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About Practice Teaching

Practice teaching in a real classroom setting seeks first of all to familiarize student teachers with the reality of the EFL classroom in Greece, and especially with the pedagogic practices used in state and private primary and secondary schools. It also seeks to help the learning and the teaching process in the classroom, as student teachers assist in lesson planning, the design of learning tasks and the development of projects and interesting class activities. During Practice teaching in schools, student teachers become familiar with other curricular and extra curricular activities, i.e., important knowledge for cross-curricular TEFL programmes.

Structure of the course

The organization of the teaching practice course and allocation of student teachers to various schools begins well before the start of the course (March). In December of every year, students who have signed up for the course are given a form to complete which asks for personal details and their preferences for types and location of schools (primary/ lower secondary/ higher secondary/ technical school, private or public) they would prefer to carry out their teaching practice. The allocation of student teachers to schools (on the basis of their preference form) is carried out throughout January and by February of every year, students are announced their allocated schools. In cases where student teachers live outside Athens and have difficulty in commuting to schools, special arrangements are made with schools close to their area of residence for the student teachers to complete their teaching practice.

The Teaching Practice course lasts from March to the end of May and during this period student teachers visit their allocated school on a systematic basis. They are requested to visit their school at least twice a week and observe at least 2 English language classes per week. The student teacher together with the mentor teacher negotiate the days and times of the observation.

During the first few weeks of the course, student teachers are requested to complete structured observation forms developed by university staff focusing on various aspects of teaching. Ten observation forms have been developed; all students must complete form 1 and 10 and they can choose any three from forms 2-9. All observation forms are assessed. Moreover, instead of completing three out of the observation forms 2-9, students may choose to do the diary project in which they record their observations, reflections and other thoughts and feelings about teaching, during the whole period of their teaching practice.

The focus and purpose of each observation form is presented below:

Observation form 1a

This form is completed on the basis of the total number of classes that the student attended and elicits information on:

  • uniformity of the level of knowledge of English of the pupils/learners,
  • use of supplementary material,
  • use of new technologies,
  • class-management techniques,
  • L1 use in the EFL class,
  • motivation of pupils to learn English.

Observation form 1b

This form is completed on the basis of one class that the student systematically observed and elicits information concerning:

  • class level,
  • gender differences in the behaviour of the learners and in  the teachers towards the learners,
  • sexist behaviour or language use on the part of the learners or the teacher,
  • main textbook used and its paraphernalia,
  • approach on which the main textbook is based,
  • adaptation of the main textbook to the Greek EFL learners’ needs,
  • concern for the development of the learners’  linguistic and/or communicative competence and  cultural and/or intercultural awareness,
  • main concern for learning and/or teaching,
  • provision of opportunities for autonomous or self-access learning,
  • use of project work

Observation form 2: Maintaining control and discipline 


  • To become aware of how teachers respond to instances of students' misbehaviour.

Observation form 3:   Openings and closings


  • To become aware of the variety of ways in which teachers can open and close their lessons.                                                    
  • To develop the trainee’s skill in identifying openings and closings of the lessons.

Observation form 4:   The use of teaching aids   


  • To develop awareness of the role of different types of materials and resources in the classroom.                             
  • To understand the uses and purposes of various teaching aids.

Observation form 5The stages of the lesson


  • To develop awareness of how lessons are structured and sequenced. 

Observation form 6: Organising pair/group work


  • To increase awareness of how the teachers set up, carry out and conclude pair/group work activities.   
  • To raise awareness of teacher and learner roles in these activities.

Observation form 7: Grammar presentation  


  • To become more aware of the ways teachers use to present grammar.                                                          
  • To investigate if grammar is presented in a meaningful context.

Observation form 8: Vocabulary  


  • To become aware of the different ways in which vocabulary can be presented to learners and then practised.

Observation form 9: The use of the L1


  • To become aware of the different ways in which teachers and students use the L1 in the classroom.

The Teaching Project:

  • Student teachers are requested to provide a detailed description of the 2 teaching sessions in which they taught one or two particular classes.

By the end of the teaching practice course, student teachers are requested to have taught two classes on their own under the guidance of their mentor teacher. Their performance is assessed by the mentor teacher on the basis of specially designed Teacher Assessment Form.

The student teachers’ responsibilities during teaching practice

Throughout the student teacher’s placement period, s/he will be expected to:

a) Carry out structured observation tasks (forms 1-9 described above) provided by the University as part of his/her assessment in the Teaching Practicum course.

The timing of the observations will be negotiated by mentor and the student teacher. It would be useful for the mentor teacher to speak to the student teacher before the lesson about any aspect of the area under observation that may be useful for him/her to know about.

After the observation, the mentor teacher should carry out a post observation discussion with the student teacher about what has been observed- he/she may have specific questions that need to be answered or  may have more general issues he/she wishes to discuss.

The mentor teacher can also arrange for the trainee to observe a colleague’s class if this proves possible.

b) Participate in collaborative teaching. By this we mean any lesson that has been jointly planned and taught by the trainee and the mentor. The degree of collaboration may vary – the mentor may plan the lesson outline and suggest a specific part they wish the student trainee to take responsibility for or the mentor may give responsibility to the student teacher to carry out the whole lesson on her/his own.  Whatever the degree of collaboration, the lesson should be one where the student teacher has a clearly defined responsibility (even if it’s only a minor task).

Below are suggestions for some of the tasks the student teacher may be assigned:

  • giving task instructions,
  • organizing/chairing a group discussion,
  • checking on learners’ answers to an activity,
  • monitoring learners during pair/group work,
  • using audio/visual material,
  • providing extension activities,
  • correcting homework.

c) Take over a class for 2 sessions: It would be valuable for the development of the student teachers’ competence and confidence in teaching if he/she were given the opportunity to teach the class for at least two full sessions.

After the lesson, the mentor teacher should provide feedback to the student teacher on his/her performance pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses of the performance and suggesting ways of improvement.

Mentoring responsibilities

During the teaching practicum, the mentor can be expected to have responsibility for:

a) The induction of the student teacher

  • providing the student teacher with information about the school, the local community and its learners,
  • introducing the student teacher to staff members,
  • guiding the student teacher around the school,
  • drawing the attention of the student teacher to school rules,
  • negotiating a realistic plan of action with the student teacher.

b) The professional development of the student teacher

  • organizing student teacher observation of effective practice (student teachers will carry out observation tasks devised by the University),
  • discussing with the student teacher and reflecting on observed practice,
  • observing the student teacher in pre-defined tasks assigned to him/her (collaborative teaching),
  • writing a short report/keeping notes of the student teacher’s performance in pre-defined tasks,
  • providing regular feedback to the student teacher focusing on what  s/he did well and what not and providing suggestions for improvement,
  • aiding the student teacher in developing self-evaluation techniques,
  • informing the university if serious problems arise with the teaching practice (absences, problems of communication with student teacher),
  • completing the Teacher assessment form (provided by the University) and carrying out a post practice tutorial discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the student teacher’s overall performance during the teaching practice.

Extra seminars

When extra staff is available, TEFL seminars are offered. To see the topics of Seminars offered in the academic years 2010-11 and 2011-12, click here.

Student assessment

Multiple forms of assessment are used throughout the course. Student teachers are evaluated via the final exam and various projects and activities which may vary from one year to another:

  • Observation form 1
  • Three out of the total number of the Observation forms (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9)
  • The diary project
  • The teaching project 
  • Course evaluation
  • The final written exam

Course evaluation

Both student teachers and the EFL class teachers to whom they are assigned are required to evaluate the programme.

  • Student teachers are expected to evaluate their experience as well as the course as a whole, i.e. its content, structure, organization, etc.
  • Class teachers are expected to evaluate (a) their student teacher's performance, (b) the content, organization, structure, etc. of the programme, and (c) their experience as mentors.