you ever asked yourself how you would enhance your level of English notwithstanding
the level you teach? Sometimes, we teachers, have to hide our own instruction
preferences to keep a position. Time flies and suddenly you are told that all
the staff will be made to have international exams to test their mastery of the
language. You are frozen. What to do now?
of all, don’t panic. Panicking does
not help at all. What you have to do is to oblige yourself to practice your
English daily, no matter what. You can try with videos of your own preference,
watching movies, Netflix, listening to the news in English, reading newspapers
on line….there are many ways to do it…and here comes the best part, for free!
strategy consists of changing the layout of your email to English. That way,
you would be familiar with all the words related with this type of activity. Do you think it is hard to do? Not at all. It is within the reach of a
click. More ways to use the social media? When you use What’s app, write to
your colleagues and students in English; when you create a Facebook for an
English course, always exchange information in English. This habit pays
dividends very quickly. Give it a try and you will see.
I always attempt to do is to test myself: that is, undertake international mock
exams. Try one section at a time, so you can see which one or ones need to be
reinforced. If you want to go deeper, do
read the existing literature about a topic that interests you. On the other
hand, novels in English tend to be economical, since not many people buy them.
You may even find a very interesting one on sale.
will always have the chance to take online courses in English as well. Do it as
often as you may. There is an increasing number of students who are pursuing
such courses. You will learn not only about the topic, but also about teaching
methodologies. And you happen to be a privileged learner, since teachers partake
in both scopes: the student’s and the instructor’s.
to touristic places. You will relax and will have the chance to talk with
tourists. If you are not the talkative type, just listen to other people
speaking the language. Try to guess where they come from, if you can recognize
theaccent, some phrases they
use, some idioms you catch… the list is endless.
not least important: keep the language alive. Always read about the latest
terminology or changes in the language. Do keep in mind that language evolves
and so must you.
Zarela Cruz graduated from
Ricardo Palma University as a translator. She also finished her master’s studies in Linguistics and took
some specialization diplomas in English and Spanish: Higher Education, Virtual
Courses Design, and Spanish for Foreigners. She has also completed a number of
certificates: Teaching the Working Adult, Online, Hybrid and Blended
Education, among other self-study courses. During her more
than 20 years’teaching experience, she has taught different courses, programs and
levels. This article aims to encourage other
teachers to keep improving their knowledge of the language regardless of the
level they teach.
As EFL teachers, one of the goals
we set for ourselves professionally is to walk forward, climb to the top, and
stand out as teachers at different stages, reaching the highest levels.
However, this goal does not significantly means progress in our careers. It frequently
signifies leaning towards up-to-the-minute approaches, losing touch with the evolution
of the language -–syntactically as well as lexically— and developing a tendency
to underperform a bit in fluency and beyond.
What are the risks native and
non-native English speaking teachers face if they keep on teaching the same EFL
course-level over and over?
It might emerge as lack of confidence by
EFL teachers on their own language skills. For example, they might be afraid of
delivering the lesson using the foreign language in full style. Likewise, they could
take most of the class-period prompting early-year students to develop non-verbal
activities (e.g.; coloring, cutting, and pasting) as well as, for instance, encouraging
juniors/undergraduates to sustain discussions regularly if they have a big
class. To get over these affairs, it would take them more than a little 'learning-session’
planning time, rather than employing the time in developing communication
skills. Consequently, it might downgrade the practice of EFL in communicative
Another factor to be considered is the
need for better communication among teachers, because to 'learn' only what is to
be taught at a certain level should not be enough. It goes without saying that teaching
at one single level for a long time, gives us the impression that we have
everything under control. That is, we get to know a certain lexicon, type of
guidelines, sort of activities and even, we fall again into the risk of using
the same doings year after year. Is that so hard to avoid?
How should teachers
become aware of the importance of updating and practicing the language endlessly
so that it can be transmitted at ease, fluently and appropriately?
The need to learn languages continues to rise, higher and higher. Globalizations,
the business world, communication, amid other components, are great motivators
not only to learners but also for teachers. Are we ready to react in time and
spin out straightaway?
Tell us what you have observed in this
regard from your experience as a teacher of languages and have your say.
Hurtado, graduated in the educational field; she holds a Bachelor’s degree in
Educational Science, and the title of Lic. in Education by Universidad Nacional
de Educación. She has also finished her master’s studies in Teaching English as
a Foreign Language at Universidad de Piura, and taken some specializations in
the EFL and Spanish fields. She has taught English and Spanish for over 20
years. She currently works teaching fully online courses. A lecturer in the
late Annual Congresses at CIDUP, she works as a Pedagogical Teacher Trainer and
is a member of the Research Area at Universidad del Pacifico Language Center.
It cannot be denied that obtaining
international certifications, both for language proficiency and for
methodology, is a career-boosting move for teachers of English as a foreign
language, because they are valid proof not only of their competence, but also
of their commitment to their profession.
In the first place, teachers should constantly
consider their proficiency in English. A good place to start would be the
Cambridge English qualifications, given their wide availability and acceptance
in the TEFL world. I would argue that all teachers, regardless of the level or
age they teach, should start their careers at a solid B2 standard, that is to
say, to hold a Cambridge First (FCE) with a Passing Grade of B or A. Naturally,
teachers should always seek to improve this standard, especially now that
children in many schools are being given the opportunity to sit such examinations.
Ideally, the teachers in charge of preparing these students should have
experienced the examination, as well as the ones above the level. Another
compelling argument in favour is the fact that holding different certificates
may be a key for teachers to be promoted, to teach different classes or to seek
different job opportunities.
Teaching methodology is another aspect in which
international examinations can be a valuable tool. Nowadays, TEFL professionals
need to be familiar with the theoretical foundations and well versed in the
terminology of the profession. For teachers with little experience, the TKT
would be ideal in order to guarantee that such foundations are present.
Unfortunately, qualifications such as the CELTA or DELTA are still available to
very few people in our country, and should only be considered when time and
resources become available.
I would like to suggest that teachers ought to
devote an entire year (or at least eight months) to preparing for the demands
of any qualification sought. There are resources available over the internet to
this purpose. Other than that, they could consider training courses provided
that they have the motivation and commitment to meet the demands of such
What do YOU think?
What difference do international examinations
make to teachers’ careers?
Mayra Yaranga (1985) has completed Doctorate studies in Education at UNIFÉ; she holds a Master’s Degree in Media, Culture and Identity from Roehampton University (London) revalidated by PUCP, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from UPCH and the Professional Title of Licenciada from IPNM. Currently she works as Pedagogical Specialist and Member of the Research Area for Universidad del Pacífico Language Centre. She is also Associate Professor at UNIFÉ. She has published papers in the fields of English Language Teaching and Cultural Studies.
Teaching adults? Practical insights to be
By María de la Lama Eggerstedt
If you are teaching adults you may probably
find yourself in the situation in which despite all the effort you put into
preparing a lesson, your methodology does not seem to match your students’
expectations.What’s going on? Why is
it that teaching adults may not be that easy after all?
When teaching an adult group of students
the difficulties do not come from an apparently lack of training, but from the
teacher’s unawareness of some practical insights about how adults learn.
To begin with, always bear in mind that adults
love grammar! This doesn’t mean that they do not want to develop their oral
skills. But whether we want it or not, they want “their grammar” since grammar
for this group of students becomes their “security blanket”, something that
they can have a good grasp on when struggling with the development of listening
comprehension skills, speaking, pronunciation or other areas of the language. Somehow
they have the idea that by studying grammatical structures they will control the
language. However, we need to consider that the heavy emphasis that they place
on grammar may be inherited from previous methodologies that used to focus on the
analysis of a language but not on its use.
So, here are some ideas to put into
practice to succeed teaching adults:
1.Always teach grammar communicatively. That is, make your students put
into real practice the new structure and vocabulary they have just learned. With
this group of students never skip a genuine communicative activity.
2.Constantly provide them with good and positive feedback, especially
after a communicative active is done.
3.Teach them how to learn by themselves. They are grown-ups who do things
on their own. Thus, make them think
about which learning strategies work better for them and which ones are not that
effective. Give them lots of learning strategies. Better yet, make them
discover their own.
4.If you really want to make a difference as a teacher, teach
pronunciation. Especially, make your students aware of the phonological
differences between English and Spanish.
5.Develop their self-confidence when speaking English. Unlike children or
teenagers, adults are sensitive to how they may sound when speaking English.
6.In class, make the most effective use of time. Consider that most of
your students come to class with an instrumental motivation and the last thing
they want to do is their waste time on an ineffective lesson.
7.Welcome mistakes! Adults know that by making mistakes they learn. More
importantly, never say anything sarcastic, improper or discouraging. Believe
me, they will never forget it!
8.Make sure that your written tests or exams do not measure just grammar
or vocabulary. Test their ability to interact in different situations. Dialog
completions are good for this.
9.Finally, for adults, learning a foreign language means acquiring
relevant cultural information. Teach English in such a way that your students
are not only learning a language, but also increasing their knowledge of the
world. Who knows? Maybe one day in a social gathering they will say something
like: I know that! I learned it in my English class”.
TEACHING LANGUAGE IN CONTEXT. Omaggio.
DE LA LAMA, MARIA, holds a Master´s Degree in Applied Linguistics and
Bachelor´s Degree in Theoretical Linguistics from the University of California;
MBA Universidad del Pacífico. Current Director at Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad del Pacifico.
What most novice English teachers dream of becoming
skilled at are things such as how to begin the lesson in a diverse motivating manner
every time, how to act when something unexpected occurs, what to do when pupils
do not understand their explanations, along with how to react when they act up
or misbehave, among various other awkward situations. The solution to these
unavoidable circumstances perhaps could be found in a high-quality training
course given by a cream of the crop educational institution.
However, after an uncertain period of time, the
feeling surfaces over again. Once more, they may experience a strong sensation
of shortage of strategies to deal with the new classes and groups of students. Probably
then, they realize they need to improve their methods, techniques and so on.
Hopefully, this constant change of necessity could be
compared with the types of needs in Maslow´s theory (1). According to this,
needs are arranged in a hierarchical order which goes from the most basic
(deficiency needs) to the highest ones (growth needs). The next level of
necessity appears when the previous level has been satisfied.
Then, educators look for new methods to teach, in
accordance to the expertise gained in the number of years they have spent at
work as teachers, plus their studies and knowledge acquired in one way or
another. If he is an apprentice instructor, he will search for the basics; for
example, how to transmit some knowledge (“the child”). If he has more experience,
he will try to improve his teaching methods (“the adolescent”). A few years
later, he will try to support his practice with theory (“the young adult”).
Later, he will easily find ways of applying the theory in different conditions
(“the middle-aged”). Finally, the highest category will be the self-provider of
knowledge who does research and who very likely creates new knowledge for
himself and others (“the mature adult”).
How can we go from covering survival needs to
producing new knowledge?
Picture this scene: You have been given a new computer
with the latest programs. You feel extremely enthusiastic with your brand new
tool precisely because it is innovative. However, the true is that the only
program you know is Word, so you can only use your PC to write letters or draw different
types of documents. Since you do not know how to use other programs, you are
deprived of the possibilities to exploit the potential your computer holds.
Let’s imagine you are looking for formulas to teach
the four skills, for instance. You go to different training courses, seminars,
lectures and so on, but you are still trying to learn a novel touch to use the “Word”
program. Thus, you end up saying: “there´s nothing different; it is always the
same things”. It would be valid to say that one must be creative and curious
and avoid looking for the same program; the same ready-to-use program. Instead,
one must try to exploit the potential of those training courses and eventually
become self-providers of knowledge. It might be time to little by little change
into a “mature adult”.
It would be good to ask ourselves
the following questions:
Do I teach the same way I used to
teach a year ago?
How much of what I am using in my
classes is MY OWN STUFF?
Am I still trying to learn what a
novice teacher (the child) will?
(1) McLeod, S. A. (2016). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
M.A. in Cognition,
Learning and Development (c) from PUCP, B.A. in Education with a major in
English Teaching. Ms. Vila is currently Pedagogic Advisor and Member of the
Research Team at Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad del Pacífico and Academic
Director of International Contacts (test training & foreign applications
advisory). She is official Examiner for several University of Cambridge tests,
freelance consultant with Universidad ESAN, experienced speaker on diverse
English teaching issues for prestigious institutions, and senior international
examinations trainer (GMAT, GRE, TOEFL).