jueves, 15 de marzo de 2018

Have You Started Working on Your 2018 Resolutions?

By Mayra Yaranga

The school year has already begun. To what extent are you a different professional in comparison to the one you were last year?

Have you thought of how to improve your language competence and methodological approaches? Here there are some questions that might help you do just that.

What do your answers mean?

1.    With regard to foreign language competence:
a.    It has improved and I have qualifications (language-related certificates, diplomas or degrees) to prove it
b.    I’ve been preparing to take exams
c.     I think it has improved but I can’t prove it

2. Think about these activities: Watching foreign language films, reading in the foreign language, using the foreign language when socialising.
a.    I do them a lot more often than last year
b.    I do them more or less as often as last year
c.     I do them less often than last year

3.    Have your colleagues helped you identify areas for possible improvement in your lessons?
a.    Yes, they’ve observed me several times
b.    No, but I’ve arranged for it this year
c.     No, I haven’t thought about it

4.    In the last year, how many academic events related to foreign language teaching have you attended voluntarily?
a.    Several
b.    One or two
c.     None really

5.    Compared to this time last year, how aware of the Peruvian educational policies are you?
a.    Significantly more aware
b.    Slightly more aware
c.     Equally aware

6.    In the last year, your opinion on the Peruvian educational system has become…
a.    better informed by facts and statistics that I remember well
b.    somewhat better informed
c.     no difference

Mostly A:
You seem to be very highly committed to your profession. Hopefully all the improvements you’ve made will have a very positive impact on your teaching.

Mostly B:
You’re on the way but remember that actions speak louder than words. Working on your language competence, methodology and educational issues will certainly take you further.

Mostly C:
It’s never too late to start. There might be many obstacles to devote time and energy to develop these areas but all the changes in the teaching profession start with you!

Mayra Yaranga (1985) has completed Doctorate studies in Education at UNIFÉ; Master’s Degree in Media, Culture and Identity from Roehampton University (London) revalidated by PUCP, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education - UPCH and the Professional Title of Licenciada - IPNM. Currently she is Cambridge Oral Examiner and Member of the Research Area for Universidad del Pacifico Language Centre. She is also ESP coordinator and Pre-University Centre Director at UNIFÉ.

martes, 6 de marzo de 2018

THE skill for successful teachers

                                                      By  María de la Lama


Much has been discussed since Dan Goleman published his book Emotional Intelligence in 1996. The author defined the term as the ability of being aware of our own emotions and those of other’s and knowing how to handle them so as to make a positive impact on other people´s life. The term made a huge impact specially since intellectual intelligence, measured by IQ tests, was believed to have a direct impact on success in any environment: academic, professional, personal, at work, etc.

Emotional intelligence is very important for developing a successful teaching career. In fact, I’ve worked with teachers with promising teaching careers and important academic degrees but who didn’t achieve the high level of performance achieved by other teachers with the same level of academic preparation. What seems to make the difference? By far, the development of their emotional intelligence.

Teachers who have developed this important skill show the following characteristics at work:

  •  They are builders of positive environments by knowing how to work with    other peers in a constructive way.
  • They have developed empathy, which helps them to avoid any kind of  interpersonal conflicts with peers, students or staff.
  • They enjoy working in groups and because of their empathy skills it’s easy  for them to take leaderships roles. 
  • They contribute to the institution’s organization and growth.
  • They understand their students´ feelings, needs and learning styles. This understanding makes them flexible enough to adapt their teaching styles to tailor students’ learning styles. Thus, teachers with a good level of Emotional Intelligence become very effective teachers.
  • They develop and keep good relationships with their students.
  • They cope with stress by controlling their own levels of stress.
  •  The know what they want and enjoy their daily work. EI teachers are self-motivated professionals.
  • They are assertive individuals able to take initiative, act on opportunities, and look at their own lives with optimism.

The good news is that emotional intelligence is a skill that we can work on and develop gradually. The benefits for our personal and professional life are countless. 
Shall we start?

DE LA LAMA, MARIA, Bachelor in Education, has a master's degree in Applied Linguistics and a Bachelor's in Linguistics, both obtained at the University of California, Davis. She also holds an MBA from Universidad del Pacífico. She currently serves as the Director of the Language Center at Universidad del Pacífico.

viernes, 23 de febrero de 2018

Robotizing, Can we Prevent it?

By Flor de María Vila

Nobody is exempted from becoming accustomed to what is easy, pleasant, beautiful, relaxing, or familiar. In fact, there is no reason to consider coming to be habituated to those things as being even evil. However, when getting used to staying in our comfort zone makes us, teachers, turn into sort of androids, only then, this becomes more dangerous than anything else in our profession.
In a teaching context, robotizing implies becoming mechanical, always waiting for instructions and, in a way, not exerting control of our professional life. The idea of robotizing makes me think of not being able to be proactive.

What are the “symptoms” of having already turned into a robot?
a.    Teaching by the book.
b.    Becoming predictable
c.    Not making any changes when giving a lesson even if this is done with students of different characteristics.
d.    Clinging blindly to the same teaching strategy because “that´s the one that works.”
Even if we present one or more of these features, we may still believe that is not important since we possess experience and knowledge. Unfortunately, I have to remark that being experienced and knowledgeable is not enough. It is very valuable to demonstrate expertise and knowledge. The problem is not being able to use those qualities in the best manner may turn to be a disaster.  

What are the threats of switching into a robot?
a.    Replacement: If we do not use our experience and knowledge in the best way, we will be one more of the many teachers that share the same tired characteristics.
b.    A demanding job market: The job market will always try to find personnel with the qualities that help satisfy its clients. In our context, this means teachers who are experts, educated, efficient, effective and adaptable. The last quality is an inescapable requirement since the current students do not have the same features as those our students of 5 or 10 years ago had; let alone the students we used to teach when we graduated.  Efficiency and efficacy are definitely crucial since the offer of learning a language in the shortest and fastest way is available at the tip of the fingers, meaning that the offer of a number of apps has increased a lot lately. If our experience and knowledge are not enough to help achieve the objective of learning efficiently, we will become a candidate to be replaced. Believe me, there are many willing and brand new teachers waiting for a vacancy.
c.    Experience and knowledge: Believe or not, those same advantages could become our doom. Staying in our comfort zone and believing those to be our endless treasures may blind us and inhibit us from taking the opportunities that could help us evolve.

What is then the way out?

a.    Take your backpack of knowledge and experience and use it to your benefit.
b.    Hauling your backpack, cross the path of proactivity to reach its other end: innovation. The prize: a guarantee of keeping your attractiveness for the job market and definitely a quality of not being easily replaceable.

I could not end this article without mentioning the importance of being honest to ourselves and to our students. We became teachers because we decided to do so. There is no such idea that we chose this profession because there was nothing better to do or because we just happen to know the language we are teaching. We could have decided to be tourist guides, we could have begun a career in international sales or any other plausible job. We decided to become teachers and this is a responsibility we have acquired. We cannot fail our students’ expectation that we are going to do our job: help them achieve their learning objective and do whatever it takes to succeed in doing that.

Are there any other threats of robotizing? 
Feel free to share your views on this subject


M.A. in Cognition, Learning and Development from PUCP, B.A. in Education with a major in English Teaching. Ms. Vila is currently Teacher trainer, Pedagogic Consultant and Member of the Research Team at Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad del Pacífico. She is Academic Director of International Contacts (test training & foreign applications advisory) and relationship manager for American universities´ MBA admissions officers with International Contacts. 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, IELTS).

miércoles, 14 de febrero de 2018

Commitment, Some Needed Fuel for Educational Institutions

By Enrique Rojas R.

Thinking about resolutions for 2018, the question may pop out, “Why should it be important for us, language teachers, to be committed to the goals of the organization we work for?” “What’s in for us as individuals?” The answer is that this issue is crucial for our health, physiological, psychological and spiritual. We cannot be happy if we do not believe in what we do.
The MBASkool Business Dictionary, a resource of management terms and concepts, defines Organizational Commitment as “the psychological attachment that an employee has with their organization.” And adds: “This plays a big role in ascertaining the bond that the employee shares with the organization. This also helps in determining the value of an employee to an organization. Employees with higher commitment are more constructive and proactive with their work.” And this certainly applies to teachers who are seen as the personification of the institutions they represent.
It was in the middle of the sixties when the first studies on organizational commitment appeared in the United States ensuing the studies of Lodhal and Kejner. In other western countries these theories gained momentum in the 70s.
Meyer and Allen's (1991) formulated a model of commitment based on components that correspond with different psychological states. They are: Affective commitment, that is, “the employee's emotional attachment to the company, acquired as a result of the satisfaction of the Organization with the needs and expectations that the worker feels,”(1) Commitment to continuation, which has to do with the time and effort that the person has for his permanence in the company and that would be lost if he leaves the job. And, the gratitude that the worker experiences and feels must reciprocate to the company for the benefits they have obtained (personalized treatment, work improvements, etc.).This is known as Regulatory commitment.
This is fine looking at it from the organization’s perspective. But, from the point of view of the teacher, what satisfaction can they obtain from their work if their goals and expectations do not match those objectives of the organization they represent?
And this can pose a serious existential problem. It will mark the difference between being a motivated professional educator and a huckster, a mercenary of education.
Unlike other professions, to which people are attracted for more practical or worldly reasons, there is usually a good deal of idealism in the decision to be a teacher, so a learning institution which existence is only destined to produce profits, is not likely to have teachers who are happy and committed.
On the other hand, as with other professionals, organizational commitment for teachers affects other dimensions such as turnover, teacher’s behavior, organizational citizenship, teacher’s productivity and teacher wellbeing.
For certain teachers, such as those in public or private grade and secondary schools there’s a certain degree of job security, at least during the academic year. That does not happen for the teachers of language institutes or language centers where classes are assigned in accordance with registration, which in many cases evolves into job insecurity and fear. When there is higher job security that makes an employee trust the organization more and commitment increases. Otherwise, it is certainly not a factor contributing to organizational commitment. Also the turnover tends to be high in these latter organizations. Low pay rates also have a devastating effect in commitment.
The perquisites and fringe benefits offered to teachers by this type of establishments also differ greatly. While some of them hire their educators formally and grant them the benefits of law, many of them do not, and deal with them as temporary or sporadic workers. It is a well-known fact that a company that provides benefits for its employees demonstrates good will towards them and keeps them happy, which lays the foundations for a solid organizational commitment.
The problem is if organizational commitment is the bond that teachers and other employees experience with their organizations, it is more likely that teachers’ ideals may align with those of many universities, public schools and some private ones, but hardly with those business organizations made solely to produce profit and economic rewards that the owners are not likely to be willing to share with the educators.
In sum, everybody should be faithful to him that pays their salary, but it is evident that commitment is a two way street. It is something that should be gained and not just demanded. It is perhaps not very realistic to expect great loyalty from people who are overworked and underpaid. On the other hand we should work for those institutions whose objectives toward education are similar to ours. And, along with them, give it all to achieve them. And we shall be happier!


MBASkool Business Dictionary, Dictionary of Business Concepts, 2017.

           Lodahl, T.M. and Kejner, M.M. (1965) The Definition and Measurement of Job Involvement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 49, 24-33. 
          Mercurio, Zachary A. (2015-12-01). "Affective Commitment as a Core Essence of Organizational Commitment An Integrative Literature Review". Human Resource Development Review. 14 (4): 389–414. 
          Meyer, J. P.; Allen, N. J. (1991). "A three-component conceptualization of organizational commitment". Human Resource Management Review. 1:  61. doi:10.1016/1053-4822(91)90011-Z.

Graduated in Journalism at the PUCP, Peru, Enrique Rojas R. holds a MA in Journalism and MA in Inter American History from Southern Illinois University, USA; an MA in Literature from University of the Americas, Puebla, Mexico, all the coursework for a MA in TEFL at Universidad de Piura, Peru and BA in Education from Universidad Federico Villarreal. He has also obtained Certificates of Proficiency in English both from Cambridge University and the University of Michigan and the Diploma for EFL Teachers from Universidad del Pacifico. He is an Oral Examiner for the Cambridge University exams and has been awarded the title Expert in E-Learning from Asociacion Educativa del Mediterraneo and Universidad Marcelino Champagnat. He has worked as a professor in universities in Peru, Mexico and the United States; as a newscaster and a producer in radio and television stations in the United States and Mexico, and as a writer and editor in daily newspapers of the same countries. He has been in the staff of CIDUP for 19 years teaching English and Spanish specializing in International Exams, English for Business, ESP and Teacher Training. He has been a speaker in every Congress of English for Special Purposes organized by Centro de Idiomas de la U.P. He is also a member of its Research Area. 

jueves, 1 de febrero de 2018


                                                     By Zarela Cruz

Being professional may mean more than we can imagine. At first sight, we may think that it demands to make the most of our professional skills at work. Not exactly. It means much more. Since it is not taught, but picked up along our careers, the list below may help you redefine this concept.

 1. Do you respect your company policies?

 2. Do you treat company property with care and respect?

 3. Do you take your work seriously?

 4. Are you organized?

 5. Are you punctual?   
 6. Are you a reliable worker?

 7. Are you a positive person?

 8. Are you willing to help?

 9. Do you avoid teachers’ room drama and 
     worker gossip?

10. Do you pay attention to dress code and personal 

This list may go on and on. Needless to say, we may have different definitions and different backgrounds. However, we all agree that, when it comes to professionalism, we want to show our best “us”.

It is more than the way we conduct ourselves in our working place; it is about the way we behave, it is about who we are as individuals.

We do not pretend to be either superheroes or geniuses, but we all would like to be part of the solution more than of the problem. We cannot deny that a pleasant working environment depends mostly on the workers themselves. If we know what is going on in our institutions, if we work hard to be (and look!) accountable, if we commit ourselves  to doing our best every day, we are on the right track.

Easier said than done? Let us know by sharing your own experience and/or giving advice to your colleagues.


What does ‘Being Professional’ mean to you?
Are you up to it?


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 the Teaching of English and Spanish. She has also completed some online certificates:  Teaching the Working Adult, Online, Hybrid and Blended Education, among other self-study courses. She has taught different courses, programs and levels and has been a teacher trainer, a lecturer and online instructor for more than 25 years. She is currently studying a master’s in Translation. This article aims to reflect on the concept of professionalism at work.