martes, 16 de agosto de 2016

What Can I do to Enhance my Level of English?

By Zarela Cruz

Have 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?

First 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!

Another 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.

What 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.

You 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. 

Go 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 the accent, some phrases they use, some idioms you catch… the list is endless.

Last, but 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 masters 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.

domingo, 14 de agosto de 2016

Teaching  a  Foreign  Language
a Long Time in the Same Level
Is there a risk in it?

By Carmen Hurtado

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 activities.

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.

Bio Data
Carmen 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.

jueves, 4 de agosto de 2016

International Exams: a Tool for Teachers’ Career Improvement

By Mayra Yaranga

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 courses.

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.

viernes, 29 de julio de 2016

Independence Day

Dear colleagues and readers,
Independence Day is one of the most important holidays in our country. 
We do expect to continue on  the path of development and equality at all levels.

                                                                         Cidup Research  Area

jueves, 21 de julio de 2016

Teaching adults? Practical insights to be considered
                     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”.
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.


sábado, 16 de julio de 2016

What do you Expect From a Training Course?

What do you Expect From a Training Course?
By Flor de María Vila A.

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).