For identifying the leading training principles for trainers involved in the process of IL we spread 25 questionnaires among people, concerned in the IL field in Bulgaria and Greece.
The questionnaire Developing a Guideline of training principles for trainers, involved in the process of IL was developed by the workgroup 2 during the distance period between second project meetings in March 2006 with the assistance of the project coordinator Dr Beate Schmidt-Belau. The tool has been sent out to approximately 25 trainers, experts in Education and Training for adults, who deal with intercultural groups/ learning. We received 15 fulfilled forms – 7 from Bulgaria and 8 from Greece.
The majority of respondents specified their experience in the field of IL as participating in short term (1-3 days) course/workshops, and few of them were experienced in long-term courses. The topics in IL are: social work (3p.), adult education (6p.), European projects (8 p.), administration (1p) and others (3p.).
Regarding the identifying of the needs of the group in terms of intercultural awareness all the respondents mentioned various methods, for example:
• Using Training Needs Analyses
• Observation and conversation with the group
• Interviews, portfolios
• Questionnaires within the group
• Sharing experience with the others/previous trainers of the group, and others.
Concerning the cultural background all of the responders headline the indirect influence of it to the learning process and communication.
As the most appropriate environment/ conditions is mentioned:
• Neutral, informal environment, where all of the participants could follow together all of the activities in mutual respect and sincere interest
• The trainer has the roll to create/to ”open” this environment and to keep it till the end of the course
• The focus must be laid on training topics, shared common values, cultural respect, trust, cooperation, interaction, not on the differences.
The trainers/ teachers/ facilitators use a wide range of materials: Flashcards, visual materials, films, pictures, photos, leaflets, photocopies, documentary movies, manuals, tests, slides, case studies, stories, participatory methods for teaching and trainers, roll plays, music, CD, DVDs.
No matter how competent or experienced the trainers are, they all encounter some barriers/ problems when delivering IL courses. These are mainly connected to the language problems and communication.
Nevertheless, there are also many elements of success that trainers encounter during IL courses. A precondition of success is most often identified as a communicative act, interaction, activeness, and desire to learn more about other cultures.
In order to overcome the language challenge most often are used detailed explanations or translation. The whole group often is involved in this process – they help each other to understand certain things. Useful for the trainer should be to use STOP technique. The most extreme way to overcome the language challenge is to have a translator in the training process. This is cost- and time-consuming solution. Other possible instruments for managing the language challenge could be involving the non-verbal communication – Games, Learning by Doing in the learning process.
There are also various methods used in IL courses. Most of them are oriented on group work in order to develop the intercultural communication.
In order to accomplish an intercultural course successfully the follow rules should be established:
• Slow the pace – focus the attention to everything that arises and giving it the time it needs to be solved.
• Make everything a learning point
• Speak one by one
• Open mind
• Respect to a difference
• Team working
• Attracting attention
• Sharing opinions and ideas
• Awareness of cultural background
• Using the learners’ experience
• Sufficient materials
As the course environment and methods are more informal than academic, the criteria and evaluation instruments are also informal or self-oriented, for example:
• Discussions after the activity
• Daily evaluation by means of discussions and evaluation pictures
• Questionnaire (open and/ or closed answer) on the content of the course, the work of teacher/ trainer, environment/ conditions, handouts, and additional comments
• Final evaluation
• Self evaluation of the teachers/ trainers (Report).
Questionnaires could consist of:
• Feeling expressions
• System of tools from the beginning to the end
• Tutor assessment questionnaires and observation of the process
• Semi-structured interview
• Assessment forms
• Personal experience letters.
Respondents have mentioned several networks that focus on intercultural education issues. And they all expressed wish to be included in a mailing list in order to receive any news about this issue.