jueves, 12 de abril de 2018

Unmasking the “Robot” Inside You

By Flor de María Vila A.

Becoming a victim of “robotizing” is truly menacing for our profession. Turning into a sort of teaching android is something that should be avoided at all costs. But before taking distance from this danger, we need to check if we have not already become a prey of it, or if we are not in the process of becoming one.
Choose an answer to the questions.
Here are some ideas:
1.    Today you have a class and you haven´t prepared anything special. You have had a very busy week or you have had some problems at home or maybe you haven´t felt very good recently because of an illness or something similar. So you take the book, read the title of the unit and prepare yourself to decide how you are going to have your students do the exercises. Whatever the circumstances are, you check the teacher’s guide and the students’ book and you feel that just doing the exercises as the book indicates will be just fineYES or NO?

2.    You feel that you must begin every lesson with a warmer, so you always use the same game or the same question. The idea is to help students connect with the lesson, so it doesn’t matter too much the way of doing it. Besides, students love that. Do you always begin / do / present an activity in pretty much the same manner?  YES OR NO?

3.    You have had a great lesson with your teenager students. In fact, they loved it. You feel satisfied. You have been assigned to give the same lesson, but with a group of adults in the evening class. Since you had such a success with your teenage class, you don’t hesitate to use the very same strategy with this evening group. It has to be a sensation too. Do you use the very same lesson plan with all your students without considering the big or small differences that might exist?  YES OR NO?

4.    You propose, for instance, that learners work in pairs and that they do so with the person next to them. To introduce some variation, you have them move around and find another partner to work with. This definitely works because students have the chance to use the language being learned with different people. Do you always organize the experience of interacting in the same way? YES OR NO?

If you have 4 yeses, you regrettably are on a first name basis with C3PO and R2D2.
If you have 3 yeses, you unfortunately have already adopted the robot style.
If you have 2 yeses, you pitifully are on the way of embracing the robot style.
If you have 1 “yes,” you, possibly inadvertently, are on the verge of espousing the robot style.

If you need more ideas and reasons to avoid becoming a victim of “robotizing” check the following link.

Can you give us more examples that show evidence of “robotizing”?
Can you mention how to avoid any of the symptoms mentioned above?


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).

viernes, 6 de abril de 2018

Do You Feel Like a Pawn on your Employer’s’ Chessboard?

By Enrique Rojas R.
On our last article we reflected on the importance of being identified with the goals of the institution you work for. Now we offer a questionnaire so you can measure your degree of 

   1.  Do you see yourself working for the same school or institute…
a)    for many years?
b)    for four or five years?
c)    Until the end of this year?
d)    I may leave any time.

             2.  Is it easy for me to build strong relationships with my co-workers?
a)    Very easy.
b)    More or less.
c)    Not too easy.
d)    It is hard for me.

           3.   Do you expect to find opportunities for progress in your present job?
a)    Very much so.
b)   Probably with time
c)   Perhaps
d)   Not really

  4. Do you picture yourself as part of a team with authorities and other teachers?
a)  I feel I’m part of a well-oiled machine.
                 b)  We generally work in accordance.
c)  We agree on certain basic points.
d)  I do the best I can and don’t worry about the others

  5. Do you set goals for yourself…
                 a)  both for major problems and for minor endeavors.
                 b)  only for major projects.
                 c)  when I feel there’s need for a change.
                 d)  no. I just make sure to follow the program for each course.

6. Do you show concern for the students’ individual goals?
                a) I try to find out and consider the reasons why they want to learn.
                b) I teach trying to cater to the needs of the majority of students.
 c) I understand there are different needs for learning.
 d) I think their reasons are irrelevant for me. I’m only concerned with                  teaching   well.

7. Do you usually change jobs?
               a) Only if a major chance comes up.
               b) Not very often but I keep an eye open for opportunities
               c) Each year I try to find something better.
               d) I’m always ready to switch where I can find better conditions.

8. When your boss asks you to do something that is not part of your regular duties…
                a) You cheerfully accept.
                b) You sometimes accept with reserves
                c) Sometimes you accept.
                d) You never accept.

9. In your work…
                a) you strive for excellence out of your own impulse.
                b) you always try to give a good impression to your bosses.
                c) you comply just to stay out of problems
                d) you do as little as possible if you can get away with it.

10. When you get ready to begin your class…
                a) you leave your personal problems and life outside the classroom.
                b) you don’t let your state of mind affect your performance.
 c) your personal problems or state of mind doesn’t affect too much the way you treat your students.
 d) your optimum performance is only when you’re in a good mood.

11. The paperwork and other things the institution requires from you…
                a) It is always handed on time by you.
                b) You generally hand them in on time.
                c) Once in a while I’m a little late.
                d) I’m not very timely with those things.

12. Are you familiar with your institution’s mission and vision?
                a) I know them well and I can tell what they are.
                b) I’m familiar with them in general terms.
                c) I have some idea of what they are.
                d) I have no idea.

13. Do you identify with your institution’s mission and vision?
                a) Yes, one hundred percent.
                b) I do in general terms
                c) I coincide with them partially.
                d) Not really.


14. When you think about your future you feel…
                a) your institution offers you a career line?
                b) your employer cares for you as a person?
                c) like a replaceable convenience for your employer?
                d) like a pawn on your employers’ chessboard?

15. Do you think your efforts and merits…
                a) are being fairly appraised and recognized by the institution you work for?
 b) are given some recognition by your employer?
 c) are minimized and overlooked by your organization?
 d) go usually unfairly unrecognized?

Reflect on your answers to the above questions. If you have answered mostly with
a You and your institution have convergent goals. This is a win-win situation
b You can say that you run in parallel with the institution where you work
in relation with objectives and identification.
c You don´t pursue the same goals as you employer. This may be an
amber signal. Proceed with a lot of caution.
d It is absolutely unlikely that you and your employer can have a very good
relationship for a long time.
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. 

miércoles, 21 de marzo de 2018


     By Zarela Cruz

Related image

You must be wondering why I have chosen just five ways if there are so many others. The answer is simple;  to start with: the fewer, the better. Once we master them all, we can expand the list ourselves.

After talking to a number of colleagues and friends, they all agreed on the following points listed below:

1. Make expertise the top of your priorities. Always do your best and keep
improving. Never show up to a meeting without being prepared.  The more prepared you are, the better results you will get. This also means to stay open to innovation and change.

2. Share your knowledge: The more you know, the better prepared you are. If you are eager to share what you know, this will have a multiplying effect on others. This is very rewarding in itself. If necessary, support others that are in a transitional stage.

3. Stay work-focused. Do not spread gossip or make people uncomfortable when they arrive and you are talking about personal issues on a place which is a common ground. Remember: there is a place (and moment, I would say) for everything. Keeping your personal calls and/or exchanges out of your working schedule is a good start. You may want to use your breaks to catch up with your family, if needed.

4. Communicate effectively. It is true that nowadays  technology allows us to contact almost everyone at any time. But are you choosing the best method? Are you utilizing the institutional email, a group chat, a phone call? Are you taking time into consideration? Keep it short and go straight to the point without forgetting courtesy. And last, but not least important: watch your tone. It sounds like the old school, but good manners will never be out of style.

5. Respect others. Do not look down on anyone. Life has ups and downs. You may not see eye to eye with everyone, but we all have the right to be heard at work. And, most importantly, do not use somebody else’s ideas without giving them the credit they deserve.

These may seem to be basic principles, but so far they have proved to be effective. Which others would you add to your list?

Drop us a few lines and let us know!

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 degree in Translation. This article aims to reflect on the concept of professionalism at work.

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.