Criss-crossing Cote d’Ivoire’s economic capital of Abidjan, English Language Fellow Riah Werner delivered a series of workshops at five different local schools. Werner illuminated student-centered vocabulary teaching for teachers in the CI ELT Exchange, a continuing professional-development project that Werner founded to provide training to in-service teachers from eleven secondary and post-secondary technical schools around the city. Presenting the workshops in typical local classrooms, modeling interactive pedagogy, and presenting activities that require nothing more than paper, tape, markers and a blackboard, Werner encouraged the teachers to think about vocabulary acquisition from their students’ perspectives.
Werner had had numerous meetings with the teachers she works with, and they had expressed a desire to learn how to conduct more interactive lessons—instead of relying on traditional teacher-centered pedagogy. The standard Ivorian lesson plan always starts with ten to fifteen minutes of vocabulary practice, so Werner decided to begin these professional-development workshops by focusing on vocabulary teaching. She ensured teachers would really be ready to bring their new skills into their classrooms by traveling to the teachers and delivering the workshops in their own schools with only locally available materials.