jueves, 20 de julio de 2017

A Handful of Contrast Linkers in a Nutshell

By Mayra Yaranga

In this new series of articles, we’d like to address some of the problems our students find in the process of learning English. Let us start with one apparently simple, but tricky point. In my experience, students have some problems when choosing some of the famous linking words, particularly those with similar meanings but different grammar.
What happens, for example, when our students want to express contrast between two ideas? The word they will most often use is but.

  •  I was very eager to learn Japanese, but I gave up quickly after starting.        
  • The team trained very little, but they won their matches easily.

Of course, this is not the only way to mark contrast, and, in order to show students’ English has gone beyond a basic level, they should be able to use some other linking words which essentially mean the same, but are grammatically quite different , such as however, although and in spite of.

1.      However is a sentence adverb. That means it should start a new sentence.
I was very eager to learn Japanese. However, I gave up quickly after starting.

2.      Although is a conjunction. That means it will join two clauses (two sentences within a sentence) creating a contrast relationship.

Although the team trained very little, they won their matches easily.
Students can also use the shorter though in exactly the same way. Only that it has an additional use at the end of a short sentence, very common in speech:

I was very eager to learn Japanese. I gave up quickly after starting, though.

3.      The most difficult phrase is in spite of. It is a phrase that works as a preposition. That means it doesn’t take sentences or clauses, but noun phrases (phrases with a noun or gerund as the most important word, not a verb)

In spite of my eagerness to learn Japanese, I gave up quickly after starting. (eagerness is the noun that replaces “I was eager”)
In spite of training very little, the team won their matches easily. (training is the gerund that replaces “the team trained”)

In more formal English, your students can use despite, which is a slightly more formal word:

Despite training very little, the team won their matches easily. (NOT despite of)

NOT Despite the team trained very little,

We sincerely hope you find our advice useful and helps you consolidate what your students have been doing in class. See you next time!

Now it’s YOUR turn:

Do your students show problems when using these linkers?
What do you do to address those problems?

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 works as IELTS trainer, 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. 

viernes, 7 de julio de 2017

Wishing you the very best!
Research Center Cidup

How Can Non-native EFL Teachers Cope With the High Demand for Good Quality English Courses?

By  María de la Lama

Both public as well as private educational institutions are looking for top quality English teachers who, besides being first-rate educators, can become transformation and leadership agents in the national EFL arena.  It’s true that many mentors complain about low rates but usually they do not realize that institutions are willing to pay good salaries to professionals that fulfill specific requirements. So, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts: to get a good job, one that enables professional development above all, a teacher must meet the following traits:

·         To begin with, having a good command of the language is a must, at least a C1 level in an international certification. We need to bear in mind that nowadays a growing number of high school students finish their schooling with an international certification of B2, if not a C1 themselves.

·         Updated methodological knowledge. Even if you are a qualified teacher you ought to make an effort to learn new techniques to apply in your lessons.  This will not only develop your creativity but will keep your teaching style fresh enough not to become predictable. I’ve seen instructors who used to captivate their students but who have eventually lost their touch because their resistance to update their teaching style. Teachers without creativity won’t be flexible enough to adapt to the different learning styles proper of new generations.

·         Technology is your best allied. Virtual platforms, on line courses, digital books, on-line international exams, are just some examples of how technology is changing the way we learn and the manner we teach.   Even though many schools do not have the economic resources to incorporate technology in their classrooms, teachers need to be skilful in the use of educational technology not to be left behind in their career.

·         Teaching English through content. It would be convenient to prepare yourself to teach a course in English: Science, literature, history courses taught in this language are in high demand, so teachers that are well prepared to teach courses in this foreign tongue increase their possibility of finding excellent jobs.


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.

domingo, 2 de julio de 2017

Can Circumstantial Burdens Hinder Teachers’ Professional Development?

 By Flor de María Vila 

Sometimes when we stop to think about our professional life, we feel as if our career has grown unruly and probably it has reached its peak. Suddenly, we may feel as if nothing about it could be changed since we have already tried everything there was to be tried. This fatalistic way of thinking comes together with other ideas that support or excuse the fact that our professional life cannot become any better, so we do not even think of changing anything because the die is cast.
One of the reasons why we take no further action is that we have faced situations that have blinded us and instead of having taken them as challenges, we have considered them as impediments.
Which are these obstacles?
1.  Lack of time: We spend many hours preparing and conducting classes, creating materials, writing lesson plans and other documents, and even commuting to our workplace. Furthermore, probably we have more than one job in order to make ends meet. Consequently, we can rightfully exclaim that there is no time to develop our professional life.
2.   Lack of money: We have just remarked that we work hard and likely in more than one place to earn enough money so that we can support our family. Hence, we may not have enough income to afford any other expenses such as the ones required to pursue further studies, leave alone expenses on books or online material.
3.    Lack of opportunities to improve the level of the target language: This could be true for us who teach the same course, level, etc. every month, cycle, or year. We may even employ the same books we used years ago which will not defy us to learn even new vocabulary.
It is true that our profession is no longer wholly valued and very likely fits among the most scantily salaried. However, it is also real that when one really wants to advance, there are no barriers but challenges.

It is a matter of changing the perspective:
1.    Lack of time: The ones who feel that their effort will have a reward do walk the extra mile while the rest of them sleep. They know that spending more time on their improvement will mean a better pay and thus the need of working so many hours will be reduced because a higher payment will allow them to work fewer hours and earn the same or more than before. Their improvement in teaching or level of language will enable them to apply for better positions.
2.   Lack of money: I remember that when I began teaching many, many years ago, I did not earn much money but I still managed to save a little money to buy books that would help me learn more about teaching. I already had children, but instead of spending money on treats I would put that money in an envelope and save it until I could have enough to buy that special book. (Probably, you remember the book The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Hammer (1991) or maybe Grammar Practice Activities by Penny Ur (1988). I found them the other day when I was moving to a new home. I realized that they were two of the best investments I had ever made).
Do not consider these disbursements as expenses but rather as investments which will pay back and bring you a better professional and personal life.
3.   Lack of opportunities: Even if you do not have the chance to ask for another course or level, do not give up so easily. Fight! Try to see it as a new beginning and reinvent yourself. Look for other ways of giving the lessons. Find other sources, activities, exercises and avoid the routine. If you fall into a rut, you will lose interest. And if you get bored, you will start working wrongly. If that happens, you will hate yourself because you will know that you have become dull. In addition, if you get bored and your students get jaded, your boss will most likely get fed up too and get rid of you. Thus, take chances. If you do not do that, you will not ever win and, even worse, you will miss the opportunity of learning and improving.

Do you agree with these ideas?
Are there any other impediments? Do they stop you from advancing?

Biographical Data
M.A. in Cognition, Learning and Development 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, IELTS)

jueves, 22 de junio de 2017

Why are International Exams Important?


                                                                        By Enrique Rojas R

The international English standardized exams have gained notorious importance in Peru, as well as the other countries in Latin America, and all over the world. What is the real reason for this? None other than the need to have a valid method of appraising the extent at which learners are able to understand and speak the language of Chaucer and Whitman.

First of all, a fairly accurate unit of measurement was required. The old classification of beginner, intermediate and advance wasn’t holding the water. There were no precise boundaries between these, and other intermediate subcategories like pre-intermediate and upper-intermediate, for example. Each educational institution would set its own requirements for upgrading to the next subcategory or category and establish their own labels as to what an individual in each of the brackets should know. The ensuing problem sprang, not surprisingly, when a student went from a school to another and their knowledge did not reach their expectations for the tag they bore or surpassed them widely. There was no way to know how much a student knew short of sitting them to an English exam.

Multilingualism is common for the countries of Europe, particularly in nations such as Switzerland, the Netherlands or Belgium. So it is no surprise that the Swiss Federal Authorities, in the Swiss municipality of Rüschlikon, were pioneers in organizing an intergovernmental symposium to look for the objectives, evaluation and certification of language learning in Europe. This meeting, held in 1991, found the need to develop a common European framework for languages to improve the recognition of language qualifications and help teachers to operate under the same basic parameters.  A project to develop language-level classifications for certification to be recognized across Europe ensued.

They were certainly not alone. The Council of Europe had been working since 1989, and continued until 1996, in their project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" with the purpose of providing a method of learning, teaching and assessing that could be applied to all the languages in Europe. Continued deliberation and labor eventually led to the development of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language Learning, Teaching and Assessment which is the result of the collaboration of many members of the teaching profession across Europe and other places. It was in 2001 that the European Union Council recommended using the CEFR to set up systems of validation of language ability, an initiative that it is becoming widely accepted as the European standard for rating an individual's language proficiency. The system endeavours to put forward a clear, coherent and complete basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines, the drawing of teaching materials, and the evaluation of language aptitude.

The English University of Cambridge established UCLES (University of Cambridge Local Examinations Board) as early as 1858 (a similar organization had been set up by the University of Oxford one year before) to set school leaving examinations for non-members of the university and began the first overseas examinations in 1864. They started to develop different tests for diverse levels of speakers. By 1955 they were conducting over 100,000 examinations.
With the advent of the 21st century and the establishment of the CEFR, the British exams turned to reflect English speaking abilities expressed in their six categories. There are no passing or failing grades, just a description of what the exam takers are capable of doing.

Across the Atlantic there is another huge organization dedicated to administer a variety of English proficiency exams. It’s the Educational Testing Service that claims to score more than 50 million tests annually in over 180 countries. They’ve been delivering tests since 1947. Among them are TOEFL, TOEIC, GRE, SAT. The popular and well known TOEFL was designed to establish whether the candidate is able to conduct undergraduate or graduate universities studies in English. It went from a hand written version to a computerized one and now an internet based variety. Although it wasn’t put together around the CEFR, its results can be measured in terms of it.


Cambridge Assessment, Our Heritage.                       http://www.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/about-   us/who-we-are/our-heritage/ Retrieved June 20, 2017.

Educational Testing Service History. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/educational-testing-service-history/ Retrieved June 20, 2017.

International English Language Testing System. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_English_Language_Testing_System#frb-inline. Retrieved June 20, 2017.

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 18 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.

miércoles, 14 de junio de 2017

Is There Such a Thing as a Gap Between Teachers And Students?

By Zarela Cruz

Whenever it comes to teaching English, teachers have to face a number of challenges. To start with: are we qualified enough to apply for those positions required in the current market? If so, do we have enough life experience as to speak the same language our students speak? Normally students from expensive bilingual schools have a wide knowledge of the world, not only because of their economic status that often enables them to travel abroad, but also because the teaching tools used at their schools are brand-new. In cases like this, having proficiency of the language is a must, but what about our knowledge of the world? What about general culture? What about conversational strategies not to mention class management?

I have delivered workshops along these years and have been able to see both sides of the coin: teachers who are really committed to do their best and teachers for whom teaching is just a means to have good status and social contacts.

Teachers’ salaries and working conditions are not exactly the most attractive in the market. Besides, this is a never-ending job: once you finish your formal working hours, you have to start thinking about planning, making adjustments to your teaching, revising exams, attending meetings…the list is endless.

Being computer literate is only one of the options at our disposal (see article on April 5th). This implies more than being a traditional teacher or being tuned with the 21st century student who is almost always connected online.  This, in turn, means that teachers should be willing to attend digital literacy training, ed-tech forums, using clouds to share material, among endless possibilities our students are familiar with.

First of all: Be always one step ahead. Update your knowledge of the language; attend courses, seminars, workshops, congresses, whatever may contribute to enhance your teaching skills.

Secondly: live in the real world: get familiar with the latest TV series, video games,  singers, starlets, and take examples from them to be discussed in class from any angle: debate, agreeing or disagreeing, simple exchange of ideas, forum discussions, ice breakers. Eventually, this effort will allow you to know your students better and you may share common interests.

It is a must for teachers not to be left behind. It is true that there is a shortage of qualified teachers to be in charge of specific subject areas, but it is also true that teachers are not motivated enough to work in the schools where they are needed. Why? Because of inadequate working conditions and environment, lack of sense of achievement, recognition... those are important factors to bear in mind.   We would love to teach in institutions where our teaching is appreciated and where students are eager to learn as well. It would be really a shame to work in a place where students are more knowledgeable than us, knowing that would mean an instant loss of respect towards our figure as teachers.

What about you?
How would you bridge any existing gap between your students and you?
What drives you to be a more effective teacher?

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. She has also completed a number of 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. This article aims to reflect on the role of the teacher in the current market.




miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2017

Towards a Culture of Language Teaching Specialisation?

By Mayra Yaranga

A widespread practice among teachers of English is to spend their working hours dealing with learners of different ages: teaching kindergarten and primary school, or teaching secondary school and adult learners, etc. Unfortunately, this practice has a detrimental impact on the quality of teaching and teachers.

In our country, teaching at an elementary or secondary school generally does not have the level or recognition it deserves financially or professionally, especially when it comes to the former or kindergarten. In the particular case of English teachers, they are often sent to teach different levels according to their proficiency in the language, leaving those with a lower level in charge of younger groups. They may also be told to cover all levels of pre-college education regardless of what they were originally trained for. What is more, many teachers feel forced to supplement their income by teaching elsewhere, moving “where the money is,” which generally means teaching adults, businessmen, university students, or training learners for international examinations in the evenings, Saturdays and perhaps even Sundays.

Working all day, every day, leaves many teachers devoid of energy and enthusiasm for their work. They may end up becoming jacks-of-all-trades in order to make a living. In addition, those who devote time to educating people at the most sensitive stage of life feel compelled to seek “status” by teaching more “profitable” classes. This leaves little room for improvement, as everything in their professional lives becomes doing and not finding ways to enhance their teaching, to ensure that those human beings in front of them are being given the best education possible.

This situation may seem inescapable, a routine in which teachers remain stuck without a way out. However, I believe that language teaching is currently experiencing what has affected many other professions: specialisation. Nowadays, teachers need to find a particular area of their interest and devote all their attention to it, instead of trying to cover every type of teaching at the same time. Those who are more interested in very young learners, for example, should start by becoming highly qualified in teaching this age group and begin, through work experience, to develop expertise in this specialised field. If finances are a concern, this should be seen as an investment rather than as an expense. An entrepreneurial attitude will not only fulfil professional ambitions but also has the potential to make a difference to Language Education.

What do YOU think?

Can specialisation have a positive impact on teachers and teaching? Are there any drawbacks?

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 works as IELTS trainer, 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. 

jueves, 25 de mayo de 2017

¿En qué forma me beneficiaría saber Portugués? La importancia del Portugués para los peruanos

                                                        Por Elis Regina Teles

  La capacidad de comunicarse es inherente al ser humano y pieza fundamental de la convivencia. El hombre se comunica por el lenguaje hablado, escrito o hasta por la expresión corporal. En el mundo actual globalizado el ser capaz de comunicarse de diversas maneras siempre trae resultados positivos en un mercado que es cada vez más competitivo. El profesional que sabe comunicarse, siempre sobresale. Quien domina una segunda o tercera lengua, está siempre al frente y se destaca de la mayoría.

       Conocer una nueva cultura, hacer negocios, viajar, visitar lugares encantadores proporcionan la ocasión ideal para aprender un nuevo idioma: el portugués. El idioma portugués es la lengua oficial de ocho países en cuatro continentes y es hablada por más de 260 millones de personas. También es una de las lenguas más importantes en América Latina.

   Brasil ha crecido  y se ha destacado en las últimas décadas por la expansión de su mercado, incrementándose así las posibilidades en los campos laboral y educativo, mientras que la medicina ha experimentado un formidable avance. Han surgido de esta manera grandes oportunidades.

     Abrir una empresa, formar una sociedad, trabajar, hacer intercambios culturales o especializarse es cada vez más común entre los peruanos. Las facilidades que se han abierto, además de la proximidad de las fronteras con Brasil  les proporcionan  la oportunidad ideal para  realizar lo que desean. Claro que para ello es  necesario perfeccionarse.

        Por esas razones resulta de suma importancia para el peruano aprender y dominar el idioma portugués como un instrumento idóneo para consumar sus objetivos.

Qual é a importância de saber uma segunda língua?

A importância do idioma Português  para os peruanos

      A capacidade de se comunicar, seja ela pelo  domínio da linguagem falada, escrita ou corporal, sempre traz  resultados  positivos em um mercado que é cada vez mais competitivo.

      O profissional que sabe se comunicar, sempre se diferencia. Quem domina uma segunda ou terceira língua,está sempre à frente e se destaca  da maioria.

     Conhecer uma nova cultura , fazer negócios, viajar , visitar lugares encantadores  é a  oportunidade ideal  para aprender um novo idioma: o português .

     O  idioma português é a língua oficial  de 8 países ,em  4 continentes e é  falada por mais de 260 milhões de pessoas  , também é  um dos idiomas mais importantes na América Latina.

      O  Brasil  cresceu e se destacou  nas últimas décadas  com a  expansão  do  seu  mercado  nos campos laborais ,na educação  e na medicina  surgindo assim   as  grandes oportunidades.

       Abrir uma empresa, ter uma parceria  , trabalhar ,fazer um intercambio cultural  ou se especializar é cada vez mais comum entre os peruanos ,com as facilidades existentes e  a proximidade nas fronteiras  o Brasil é a  oportunidade ideal para realizar o que desejam  e para isso é necessário  se aperfeiçoar.

      Então  é de  suma importância  para  o peruano aprender e dominar  o  idioma português e assim realizar seus objetivos.


Elis Regina Teles  estudió Pedagogía en el Centro Universitário de Patos de Minas  (UNIPAN).  EN Brasil  se desempeñó  como docente  en él área de niños con habilidades especiales además de enseñar en colegios la Lengua Portuguesa y Literatura.   Actualmente es docente  de idiomas y se desempeña como traductora e intérprete de portugués y español