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?

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 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).