miércoles, 23 de noviembre de 2016

Assessing Our Own Achievements
                                                       By Zarela Cruz

The culmination of the year is getting closer and closer; students are being persistently evaluated; and last but not least important, end-of- the-year exams are just around the corner. Perhaps a question to ponder is: Is it the time to assess only our students’ achievements or wouldn’t it be judicious to gauge our own ones as well?

How can we measure our own achievements?
As I pointed out before (see post Sep, 29th), most of our time is devoted to reach the set objectives, but, are we up to it? If we do not set our own goals, how can we demand our students to reach theirs? I do not mean at all to blame ourselves, what I do mean is to be consistent. At the beginning of the year, we should also prepare a list of the goals to be reached and also figure how effective we can be in doing it. We have to plan not only summative assessment, but also formative one; we have to be aware of the techniques we will implement and the reasons why we choose one or the other; we should be ready to make adjustments all along the year. Our achievement is not measured by how much our students like us, but how eager we are to expand their knowledge and to teach them not to be satisfied; to challenge themselves to get the well-known Krashen’s I + 1. That in itself will show us that we made our best effort.

Is being highly qualified opposed to being highly effective?
Not at all. Being highly qualified should be a starting point, but not the only one to be taken into account. Flexibility is the key concept that should lead our practice. Students highly rate a teacher who is able to inspire them by showing different strategies, one who is not afraid of trying harder and harder and who is capable of reflecting on their own performance. We do know that most teachers are perfectly proficient, but we do prefer the ones  whose techniques and styles can be perfected every time, that are never satisfied with what they already know, that are flexible enough as to allow themselves to find a more suitable way to educate. These are the ones that deserve our gratitude.

And now, YOUR TURN:
 Are you satisfied with what you have already achieved? If so, why? What else are you looking for? What strategies do you apply when you reflect on your own teaching?

Let us know what you think. Your expertise, your experience and your ideas are valuable to us!


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. 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 self-evaluation all teachers are expected to do to assess their own achievements.

miércoles, 16 de noviembre de 2016

Assessing Students Learning Achievement,
is it Applied the way it should?

Corroborating students’ effective learning is one of the central concerns for us teachers, especially at the end of the school year. The question is whether by this time we have at our disposal the precise information to substantiate students’ learning achievement. Is it enough to take the final exam and bestow the scores to say the process has been accomplished and everybody is ready to move on to the next step?

Unfortunately, the standards oblige institutions and English teachers to follow the system and the fact of being involved in this, makes teachers finalize the academic year with still another exam. One more with the same characteristics: structure, scores, and out of the expected context of production. Frequently, exams are taken from the textbook CDs, thus limiting teachers´ creativity and ways to exploit students’ performance in real-like contexts; and this does not only occur at the end of the year, but during the whole leaning process as well.

When do students learn more effectively?

Practice has shown that when students know what the learning goals are they get more involved and try harder to make things work. The suggestion: good planning. This will provide students better performance opportunities and allow teachers to implement a goal-oriented coaching process. This may sound unconvincing at first, but effective learning requires attention to outcomes and demands the acquisition of the know-how that leads to those outcomes. Here is when assessment helps the learning process and provides information to identify which students learn best under what conditions. So teachers are able to make the necessary adjustments at the right time.

Assess, why?

Assessment results can be used for many purposes. However, applying the following: a diagnostic assessment at the beginning of the school year,  formative assessment during the whole process, and the summative assessment at the end of it, not only will allow teachers to get information to gauge the course grades, but to know how much students have learned.  

Assess, what?

On the other hand, what to asess is one of the greatest challenges foreign language teachers face due to the pressure to encompass  the curriculum. This often converts teachers into mere data providers; and, as a consequence, unnecessary papers are assigned, and too many tests are applied which do not produce the expected results. The point is, teachers need to monitor progress toward the intended goals in a spirit of continuous improvement. Beginning with clear objectives should be the first step. Later on, setting different aims will require different types of assessment. Some of them will facilitate to provide the necessary data, while others will serve to empower students to identify their best way to learn. This second group of assessment tools will help students to become problem solving, decision making, creative individuals, and much more, just as the new generation of students needs to be.

Designing assessment instruments to do what you want?

It has been stated that where program purposes lack specificity or agreement, assessment as a process moves forward toward clarity about where to aim and what standards to apply. With the advent of norms, it is expected to see students performing in authentic contexts and situations using the foreign language they learned in class. So assessment will demonstrate that students reached the standards in bigger or lesser dimensions.

The end of the year is approaching and we should ask if students are ready to be problem solvers, critical thinkers, tech savvy, you name it.

As educators, our responsibility is huge. If we don’t have a clear idea where we are going, we may or may not get there. Performance assessment will allow us to check not only for engagement, but also for deeper learning. Effective assessment is no longer done to students, but with them.

Thanks for following and telling us how you are using assessment
 to empower students to own their learning.

Bio Data:
Carmen Hurtado, graduated in the educational field and studies in EFL - Universidad de Piura with over more than 20 years of experience teaching English, Spanish and tutoring students of different age-groups with great satisfaction. She has also participated as a lecturer in the late Annual Congresses at CIDUP and is currently working as Academic Coordinator at Universidad del Pacífico Language Centre.

viernes, 11 de noviembre de 2016

Ending the School Year Actively

                                    By Mayra Yaranga

It is almost the end of the year and our students might be counting down the days left to go on holidays. Together with this excitement we can also discern some other less cheerful feelings, such as stress, tiredness and anxiety. How to get the most of these last weeks and turn those negative feelings into a healthier environment? Here are some suggestions.

Checking progress
It is hard not to think of evaluation when the end of the term arrives. There are likely to be aspects to continue working on, but it is highly rewarding to have students highlight how much progress they have made. Our students’ sense of achievement could be boosted, for instance, by asking them to create and award “diplomas” to each other, in order to praise their effort, performance, etc.

Content is always there
Christmas and the forthcoming summer holidays prove to be very compelling topics for any kind of classwork to close the academic year. For this reason, teachers can take advantage of them to provide meaningful language content and work on the four skills. Even the simplest of tasks, such as creating a Christmas card, will involve intensive exposure and use of the language. However, we must remember that every activity needs to have a clear and feasible communicative goal supporting it.
Seize every opportunity to help your students improve their language skills, even if it is the end of the year!

Now it’s YOUR turn.

What activities have you planned for the end of the academic year?


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, Cambridge Oral Examiner  and Member of the Research Area for Universidad del Pacífico Language Centre. She is also ESP coordinator and an Associate Professor at UNIFÉ. She has published papers in the fields of English Language Teaching and Cultural Studies.

jueves, 10 de noviembre de 2016

Dear colleagues,

We are about to start this year’s last series of articles. It is a good moment to make a pause to reflect not only on our teaching practice and achievements, but also on our resolutions for the coming year.

Keep following us!

CIDUP Research Area