jueves, 29 de septiembre de 2016

What makes a good Teacher: their Command of
the Language or their Methodological Knowledge?
                                                                  By Zarela Cruz

Have you ever wondered the same question? I have, especially after overhearing some students exchanging opinions about their English teachers. They mentioned a number of features appropriate to be compared (listed at random):  their last names, their “Anglo-Saxon” appearance (if it can be referred as that), their accent, their knowledge of the world. None of them mentioned anything about methodological aspects, but they dreamed of having a foreign-looking teacher if not an English native speaker.

I started digging on this topic and asked a number of my students and colleagues just one question: What makes a good teacher of English? I almost took for granted that they would say: their experience and preparation; but I was wrong; most of them chose “passion for teaching” as the first requirement, then flexibility (not getting stuck on a book page), sense of humour and, finally, command of the language. For them, unlike the students mentioned at the beginning of the article, methodology was imperative; they also mentioned cultural aspects that in their opinion, went hand-in-hand with their command of the language.

Surprised? This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is lots of existing literature about the requirements to become an effective teacher (essentially, you will realize that  the word good is not used). We have to go deeper and start asking ourselves about the kind of teacher our institutions are looking for: Do they look for experienced teachers who know a great deal of methodological approaches or for novice teachers with a good command of the language? What kind of teachers do they hire and why? In which category do you belong?

There is much more to develop regarding this topic. You are very welcome to our 10th Latin-American Congress for English Teachers this upcoming October to elaborate more on the multiple answers to this question based on your experience and on your goals after analyzing the demands of the Teaching of English market.

In the meantime, feel free to let us know what you think and share your experience with us!  What has worked for you? Do you fulfill both 

Faculty Focus: 9 characteristics of a great teacher
Research:What are desirable characteristics in an English teacher

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 analyze the current market demands and  how prepared teachers should be to fit in.

miércoles, 28 de septiembre de 2016

Reflecting on Teaching for 
Next Generation Education

All along teaching, different teaching approaches have been applied in education in order to attend learners with the latest in methodology and to provide a more personalized teaching. On the other hand, teachers have adapted their teaching style to the needs of students; that is from Grammar Translation, Direct Method, Situational Approach, Audio-lingual, the Communicative Language Teaching, TBL, and others, the challenge has still been to develop sessions that are more communicative so that learners achieve the mastery of the Common Core standards.

Increasingly, the challenge leads teachers to incorporate activities that help learners develop not only the four language skills: listening, reading, speaking, and writing, but also integrate rigorous core academic content with critical thinking and complex problem solving skills, as well as to promote collaborative work so they communicate effectively. However, the educational policies in our country force teachers to cover a syllabus a fact that unfortunately restricts not only teachers but also students´ creativity and this entire dream remain there.

If we only reviewed of our ‘lectures’ given in class at the end of every year, we would probably notice that some of them were worthless. Tons of worksheets, handouts, quizzes, and exams wouldn’t have been necessary for sure, but they had to be applied because of the syllabus and the evaluation system. So are we on the right track to be ready to teach next generation learners? Isn´t it time to stop and think about our job and the way things are being done in the classroom?

I think we should take some time and reflect on how to redesign lessons and the way learners need to be attended. Are we speaking their language, or we keep teaching the same way to every single group thinking we have the panacea and will make things work in class. We need to make them more personalized and competency-based. A good start is recognizing that Baby Boomers, X and Y Generations have received significantly different education –numberless methodological approaches- and that the current generation as well as the coming one need urgent changes in class. The past is gone; the present is the chance to make things work for them. Should you then be part of this change?  

As teachers, we have the responsibility to promote curiosity, investigation, creativity, and much more through different contexts, which should be our main concern. Let’s get ready to do our best in enlightening next generation students. Cutting edge educational studies  show that despite the wide variety of individual school models, next generation education will inevitably rest on three building blocks: 1) knowing the student 2) appropriate content, and 3) a variety of delivery methods. In combination, these components can potentially bring high levels of personalization to student learning. 

Additionally, technology has transformed the way students interact and learn, both inside and outside of the classroom so teachers need to be familiarized to this kind of learning environments to fluently interact with them. With the rise of mobility nowadays, anywhere in the world, learners demand collaborative, active learning spaces as a baseline for entering a competitive workforce. Thus, in developing tomorrow’s leaders, thinkers, and creators, we must now put the right learning environment and course redesign to the top of the academic priorities in education. Apprentices will then be evaluating what worked well or not in all stages of their performance to make the necessary changes for the next learning experience.

What changes have been made in your school environment? Have you ever had the opportunity to work collaboratively with your colleagues and start focusing your teaching on next generation education?

 Share your thoughts with us and leave your comments below.

British Council (2015). Inglés en el Perú. Un análisis de la política, las percepciones y los factores de influencia. Retrieved from: http://www2.congreso.gob.pe/sicr/cendocbib/con4_uibd.nsf/318A8FA6AC9F382105257F3E00611BB9/$FILE/Ingl%C3%A9s_en_el_Per%C3%BA.pdf

Schleicher, A. (2014). Transforming Education for the Next Generation A Practical Guide to Learning and Teaching with Technology. Retrieved from:

Bio Data
Carmen Hurtado, graduated in the educational field; she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Educational. She finished her master’s studies in TEFL at Universidad de Piura, and taken some specializations in the EFL and Spanish. Currently teaching online courses and has been a lecturer in the late Annual Congresses at CIDUP. She works as a teacher trainer and as a Academic Coordinator at Universidad del Pacifico Language Center.

miércoles, 14 de septiembre de 2016

Is Culture the Fifth Language Skill?

By Mayra Yaranga. 

Nobody can deny the vital importance of the presence of culture in every lesson we teach. However, the question of when to teach it and how to approach it are still aspects which need to be carefully considered.

On one hand, the traditional apportionment of language in four skills makes it hard for teachers to identify the aim of a lesson. Perhaps this is why trying to insert the teaching of culture in class might be misconstrued as teaching it ‘independently’ and, although a chance to teach culture may seem hard to identify, in reality it is always present regardless of the contents given.

This could become evident when working on a reading exercise, for instance. Students read about important street markets in the world, which, apart from generating discussion on whether students know them or like them and the reading micro skills they develop, can also open up the debate on how different or similar these street markets are to Peruvian ones and the reasons why they are organised in a certain way and the way people interact with them in one part of the world or another. A key principle here is that culture should not be understood simply as the “target language culture,” but as a contrast between the diverse lifestyles and views likely to appear in every teaching context.

For our students to succeed in developing communicative competence, they don’t only need grammar or isolated vocabulary but content, and this is what culture provides. When learning a language, students also have the great opportunity to learn about the way in which others think, feel and interact. This is not limited to native English speakers alone, but, since English is spoken all around the world, scenarios emerge in which speakers of other languages might also turn this language into an effective tool for cultural communication. Therefore, fostering the inclusion of culture can greatly enhance the opportunities for meaningful lessons.

Now it’s YOUR turn

Do you teach cultural aspects in you class? How do you approach it?


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.

viernes, 9 de septiembre de 2016

Why not becoming a Language Teaching Researcher?

By: María de la Lama E.

It’s very interesting to see the many images that the term “research” can evoke in many English teachers: from boring theories to a group of scientists conducting  incomprehensible experiments, the fact is that for many language teachers  the term “research “ is everything but motivating.

The reason for the unpopularity of research among language teachers may be that the term evokes something difficult and very distant from what really happens in a classroom. This teachers’ perception of research may impact negatively on their professional development, especially now that we live in an era in which knowledge is produced and interchanged faster than ever. Thus, language teachers need to give a newer look to research becoming good classroom researchers. Easier said than done? Not at all! Consider the following easy approach to doing research.

Some previous considerations:
·   Our classrooms are perfect labs. Pay attention not only to the effectiveness of your lesson plan, but to what students do and how they are doing it. Go beyond your own lesson design and consider, for example, internal and external factors that encourage or impede students’ participation in the activity.

·         Keep a research notebook. Something just for yourself where you can register all your simple but highly valuable observations.  Then choose one of your notes and get information about the topic.

·         Get Information?? Does it mean I have to go to libraries???
Not at all. Get used to reading language teaching journals as your main source of information.  These Journals, some of them written by teachers for teachers, always provide readers  with state-of-the art information based on the latest research.  Two of my very favorite journals are: English Teaching Forum and Teaching English Professional. Just Google them!

How can I do research? Follow these easy steps
Imagine that you are conducting a pair work activity with a group of teenagers. Even though the activity is going fine you notice that some students are not that engaged in the activity.  

1.    Write down your observations in your notebook. Pay attention to what students do and how they are doing it. Don’t concentrate only on their language production, but on how they are doing the activity: e.g.: what prevents them from fully participating in the activity? Are they enjoying it? How is the classroom atmosphere? etc.

2.   Then, after class give yourself time for accessing an English teaching journal. For this purpose we’ll access English Teaching Forum and enter the key words Pair Work to look for articles related to the topic. You’ll get a list of very interesting articles such as the following:

Getting Teens to Really Work in Class
In: English Teaching Forum 2012, Volume 50, Number 4Format(s): Text
"This article explains the brain development and behavior of teenagers as well as their special needs. The authors offer English language learning activities that meet the need for physical movement, social interaction, and reduced stress."

3.   In this very easy-to-read article you’ll find important information about teenagers´ behavior needs such as: their need to play and for social interaction, their need for rest; their need for physical activity and their need to learn in a stress-reduced environment. With this information prepare a short checklist for yourself so as to evaluate the extent to which the way you conducted the pair work activity catered to your students’ needs.

4.      In a couple of days, conduct another pair work activity again, but this time put into practice what you’ve learned from the article. Make sure that the needs mentioned in the article are taken care of. Some practical suggestions for fulfilling the mentioned needs would be: asking your students to stand up and change places for the activity; see how tired they are (maybe you are teaching at the end of the day); see if they are really interacting with their classmates, etc.

5. Write your observations and register whether there was any improvement or not. The more detailed your notes, the better they are for your research.

6.    Share your notes with another colleague. By sharing your observations you’ll get an even better understanding of your findings.

7. Continue searching about the topic and incorporate findings and suggested activities. By the end of the academic year, you’ll have become an expert on the topic.

Focus on the Language Classroom, Dick Allwright and Katleen M. Bailey, Cambridge University Press
English Teaching Forum

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.

jueves, 1 de septiembre de 2016

All the information is now at the end of your Googletips

By Flor de María Vila A.

Nowadays, it has become exceedingly common to interact with different digital networks and platforms. In fact, interacting with this new second world is a must for everyone who wants to keep updated with the latest news, methods, games, tips, gossips, offers, secrets, advice, or the very thoughts they may need in a special circumstance.

The obvious advantage of interacting with the virtual world is, for instance, the information that one can collect by typing a word or phrase in the Google search engine. In countless cases, the only thing that matters is to have access to the information that may help us do an assignment, to learn something new or to just have some relaxing time.
 Are there any further benefits in addition to finding the satisfaction to the specific need of obtaining information?

The most sophisticated yield could be that of improving your critical and analytical thinking through the use of different reading strategies such as previewing, contextualizing, reflecting, evaluating and comparing, among others.  Supplementary benefits could be those related to competences that will empower your cognitive skills; something that will be useful not only in your academic domain, but also in your everyday life. It is highly probable that you will notice your memory swelling, your attention enhancing, your vocabulary expanding, your stress reducing, and your writing and entertaining talents improving. All those are good reasons to start interacting with the digital world. All these benefits are related to the old adage “use it or lose it.” You cannot expect to remember anything you have just glimpsed, can you? You will most likely remember something you have put to use somehow. Thus, giving your brain the chance to think over a topic, question, or comment to provide a response is the minimal “exercise” that your brain needs in order to be kept in shape.

It is said that nothing belongs to you until you use it. When writing, you use a number of cognitive skills that will enable you to pass some information from your short-term memory storage to the long-term memory storage because somehow your brain rehearses the information used.

Using the information you read to create new one will absolutely contribute to your cognitive empowerment. Furthermore, it is always rewarding to contribute with our small bit to the enrichment of education in our country, is it not?

What about sharing your ideas about the following:

What have you read about interacting with the digital world? 
Are there any other benefits?
What do your colleagues say about interacting with “the cybernetic world”?


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).