miércoles, 5 de diciembre de 2018

Are CLIL courses that good for boosting foreign language acquisition?

 By  María de la Lama E
In many private schools in Lima there is an increase in the number of courses taught in English. Courses like  Social Sciences, Mathematics and Literature have boosted parents’ demand for such courses like never before. The term CLIL (Content and integrated learning of languages) appeared in the nineties with the aim of integrating the learning of a foreign language with the learning of new content. In this methodology, language and content are two equally important aspects and a special effort must be made to maintain the balance that prevents one from eclipsing the other. The ultimate goal is to achieve proficiency in the language by learning new content.
What are the main benefits of the CLIL methodology? To begin with, the integration of the aforementioned content with language provides a real communicative context, one of the main foundations for the acquisition of a second language. In fact, CLIL seems to correct several problems of language teaching. In CLIL courses, students have a real interaction in the language due to their need to develop knowledge. On the other hand, in foreign language or second language courses, there is frequently a very controlled interaction between the students, enough to practice a new structure and, generally, in contexts that may not be too attractive for them. In fact, CLIL courses expose students to topics that are more relevant to them, increasing their motivation, which in turn will promote the acquisition of the foreign language.
However, the integration of language and content, which is the heart of the CLIL methodology, is not an easy task, especially due to the insufficient number of teachers. For this methodology to be applied successfully, teachers, if they are not native speakers, must have a native command of the language as well as a solid knowledge of the content to be taught. But even if the availability of teachers were not a problem, it must be asked whether students really improve their performance in the second language with the CLIL methodology compared to the results of the foreign language courses.
Research aimed at comparing the results in language acquisition with that of traditional language courses shows that CLIL students improve their listening comprehension, fluency, reading comprehension and their vocabulary range. In an excellent paper entitled “Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): Limitations and possibilities”, written by Ena Harrop, there are some interesting research results worth to be considered. According to some authors, CLIL students’ pronunciation and writing accuracy do not show a significant improvement when compared to students that have been learning English as a foreign or second language. Furthermore, according to Cummins (1998) in CLIL courses, there is not enough focus on the form, which in may in turn cause the fossilization of grammatical errors. Finally, CLIL courses can only favor the development of receptive skills rather than the  productive ones.
In summary, although CLIL courses can offer several advantages over modern language teaching approaches, it seems that the balance between content and language has not yet been reached. Much research still needs to be done to point out the benefits of this methodology compared to the results of modern language teaching approaches.

And now, your turn:
 Are CLIL courses that good for boosting foreign language acquisition?

   How much do our students improve their command of a foreign language when learning not the language per se, but something else through that language? 

   Should schools promote the teaching of subjects such as Literature, Social Science or Math in English?

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.


miércoles, 28 de noviembre de 2018

The Teacher as a Researcher: a Dream or a Nightmare?

By Flor de María Vila

In the process of trying to diversify my lessons, I found myself trying different formulae to teach. Even though many changes went quite well, I felt that something was missing. I mean, sometimes I felt that what worked very well with a group didn´t turn out equally satisfactory with another.  Then a new journey began and after many trials I came to the conclusion that if we pursue a real transformation, we need to go deeper to find the real reason why something works or why it does not.  In order to do that we need to start one of the most amazing trips: research.
Can any teacher do research in his classes?
          Absolutely! In fact, we may say that it should be considered as part of any teacher´s development.
Is it difficult to do?
          I wouldn´t say it is the easiest exercise, because nothing worthwhile ever is. However, I can promise it is manageable.
          In the following lines, I will share some secrets to begin. After that, you will need to ponder what you have done and what you will eventually do.
#1. Select a minor hindrance in your lessons or anything that prevents you from feeling absolutely satisfied with your classes.
          It is more probable that you will be motivated to get under way if what you are planning to do is likely to help you with your lessons and not that just become another “load.” We teachers are already pretty busy, aren´t we? But it is really important to begin, no matter how. So, on the first day, select that issue that bugs you or something you feel could be improved.

#2. Make a diagnose of the current situation. You cannot “cure the illness” unless you identify the symptoms, can you?
          It´s necessary to try to pinpoint what the problem is, why a lesson went wrong or why it didn´t work with a certain group of students.
Make a list of the activities you organized and recollect the objective you had for each one. Were they achieved? Why or why not? Share this situation and ask your colleagues what they think or if they have ever been in a similar situation.
Next time you carry out a similar exercise, for instance, a listening practice, record yourself using your mobile phone. You can either only tape your voice or have a video made. Sometimes, we do not become aware of the problem until we listen to or watch ourselves in action.
You can even ask your students why they have difficulty with a certain exercise, for example. They may give you important information.
Last but not least, surf the web and type for instance “problems with listening skills.” You will find thousands of articles that could give you a better idea of what could be happening.
          It is crucial to gather information from different sources before attempting another way of teaching. You may also like to read this article: https://languageteachingblogger.blogspot.com/2018/07/listening-skill-difficult-to-teach.html

#3. Do not panic! Now you have a lot of information, so you are ready to prepare a plan of action.
          Believe it or not, this is manageable. You can start with the simplest plan you can think up. I would suggest connecting one of the ideas your students gave you, one of the teaching experiences your partners shared with you and one of the solutions described by the authors you read.
          Prepare a simple plan which should have the following characteristics: Activity, its objective, and a sample of evidence that will show that your venture is working. Make sure this evidence is visible so that you can monitor and keep a record.
#4. Evaluate and plan again.
          Assessing yourself is not that difficult if you have a clear objective. It is simple: If the goal was achieved, then your plan worked well. If it wasn’t, you need to reflect and plan considering another solution. Go back to #3 or #2 if you feel you need to gather more information to propose something new.
From my experience, I could say that the hardest thing is to commence. When I began, I felt I didn´t need more work (probably you don´t either). Nevertheless, when I realized that my job started to flow and that my students could improve their skills faster, I just let myself be carried away by each issue I needed to fix or improve.  

So today begin with the easiest step: #1

Do not try to do more today, or you will be feel overloaded.
Tomorrow, you can hack # 2 and then go on from there.

Feel free to share your experience or ideas.

Action Research for Language teachers by Michael J Wallace
Action Research in Language Learning by Mohammad Ali Nasrollahia, Pamela Krish , Noorizah MohdNoorc

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).

jueves, 22 de noviembre de 2018

Are we Prepared to Let our Students Think Critically?

By Enrique Rojas R.

The whole concept of education seems to have changed. In our modern pedagogical jargon we refer to things such as critical thinking, developing reflective judgment, and fostering independent reasoning as the newest tendencies. However, coming to think of it, aren’t those characteristics inherent to the thinking process? Our deliberating, just in order to be ours, doesn’t it have to be critical, reflective and independent?

         The concept of teaching as sharing knowledge with our students is no longer accepted if by knowledge we understand a bundle of facts, truths and principles that are fed in oral or written form by preceptors to disciples. People used to think of teachers as individuals full of knowledge distributing it among the students, pretty much as in the example presented by Jim Scrivener, of a full pitcher (the instructor) pouring its contents into empty mugs (the students).
  But if we go back to our ancient Greek roots, we cannot imagine the pedagogues merely splitting out pieces of wisdom. The concept that the real mission of a teacher was to educate their students to think could not have been strange to them.
         In much more modern times but still far from our contemporary millennial thinking, Bloom clarified different aspects of teaching and learning far from just spoon feeding intellectual stuffing. So, critical thinking cannot really be an invention of recent days.

         However, in the teaching of foreign languages, as in other aspects of education, it is appalling how we cling to worn out and erroneous formulae. Just an example of that should suffice to demonstrate it. Only a few years ago in a major learning institution a supervisor was coaching teachers in proper exam correcting techniques telling us that we should exclusively accept the answer offered in the answer key. When we asked why we could not accept an equivalent answer, he told us: “Because the answer in the answer key is aligned with the textbook and this is what the students have been taught and, therefore, what they have to answer.”  We wonder what that type of attitude has to do with educating.

Are you ready to let your students think independently?
Do you accept alternative meaningful answers?

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, 14 de noviembre de 2018

Social Media and Technology in the Classroom

                                                                            By Zarela Cruz

        Who hasn’t heard of Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Google? Are we already used to Blackboard and Moodle? Social media does encourage social connections and does allow exchange of information at once.

        Despite their drawbacks: access to questionable content, addictive nature, bullying, and negative peer pressure, there is no doubt that they are here to stay. Since we can either embrace technology or neglect it, we should set up filters that prevent students from getting distracted and/or waste their time.
        We have to consider that there are also tremendous benefits when it comes to social networks. On the optimistic side we find that introducing the latest tools and technologies can be a great ally and not only to the growth of our students, but also towards the educator’s professional development.
        Below, I list some positive ways in which social media can be used in our lessons:
Social Media Technology in the Classroom Helps to Increase Student Knowledge

        And it can be done in a few minutes! How?  By simply scrolling through your newsfeed. You can also easily find relevant information by using #news. Besides, you can discover information about different fields: from gardening to astronomy. And at the reach of a click!

Allows Students to Get Help from Others
      They can get this help from another student or from an expert. Students can also have the chance to send private messages to the teacher in case they need some clarification and/or want to share their progress.

Can Encourage Student Participation
        How so? Shy students will feel more comfortable sharing their insights via internet. Social media also allows students to collaborate with each other: by posting in Wikis and Blogs, for example; leaving their comments and exchanging information.

Students May Keep on Working on Topics of Their Interest
        Once the activity or task is over, students have the chance to keep on working on topics of their interest by contacting experts. They can even find valuable related links or websites and share them with teachers.

And What About Teachers?

Resource Sharing
        By using MOOCs like Blackboard or Moodle, teachers can share documents, videos, websites and applications with their colleagues. These platforms also allow teachers to load updates, messages for the students, reminders of upcoming events, tasks and their deadlines among others.

Tool for an Educator’s Professional Growth
        There are institutional international networks that help to foster professional growth. How? Enhancing collaboration and contacting colleagues all around the world. Teachers can either be mentors or have mentors to get feedback about teaching styles, classroom problems, disruptive insights and so on.
        With increased web access, teachers and students get information they may have been completely unaware of. This, in turn, will have a say in the proper implementation of social media and technology in class. 


Do you use social media and technology in the classroom?
 Are you for or against it?


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 convenience of using social media and technology.

miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2018

Humans Wanted: Soft Skills in the English Classroom

By Mayra Yaranga Hernández

Tolerance, social perception, empathy, emotional intelligence, cultural awareness, critical thinking and others are part of a set of crucial skills we all need to survive in a world filled with materialism and vanity. We all know these skills are essential to adapt to a rapidly changing world but, are we born with them? Can we learn to develop them? Can they be taught? And if so, can they be measured somehow?

         The World Economic Forum, through its Future of Jobs Report 2018, suggests that by 2022 the top skills people must have will be: analytical thinking and innovation; active learning and active strategies; creativity, originality and initiative; technology design and programming; critical thinking and analysis. As we can see, most of them are soft skills. If the aim of education were to develop them, would it be possible to insert them in the context of a classroom? To be more precise, do they have a place in an EFL lesson?

         Current knowledge on soft skills tells us that they are not really teachable –-that we are somehow born with them-– and that they are common to all human activity. It is also agreed that they are not easily measured because they are of a more qualitative and subjective nature. Therefore, it may seem that their application in an English classroom is not feasible. On the other hand, if asked, teachers would probably say they all develop these skills to a certain extent when they promote leadership, tolerance or empathy. I would argue that this is true, though the key word here is “promote”, which is different from “teach” and sounds a lot less overwhelming! This could be done on a daily basis and without any explicit instruction: a hidden curriculum for the benefit of students.

         Given their importance, then, we should reflect on ways to promote soft skills in our daily work. An example could be how we encourage active listening: we could ask students to talk about something personal, and then ask their partners to report it to the whole class in as much detail as possible, including personal reactions to what they heard. It may sound rather obvious, but for some students this is quite challenging, as they are not used to paying too much attention to their peers. Furthermore, the next step would be to discuss ways to address soft skills with colleagues, in order to find common best practices and set criteria to assess them in a way as objective as possible. Perhaps, in our current world filled with emotionless technology, this could be the light at the end of the tunnel: a way to create the human beings the world needs.

Now it’s your turn
What do YOU think?
Do you promote soft skills in your lessons? How?

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 Pacífico Language Centre. She is also ESP coordinator and Pre-University Centre Director at UNIFÉ.

miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2018

¿Qué es innovar?

                                                                                                     Por Research Centre CIDUP

La innovación fue el tema central en la duodécima edición del Congreso Latinoamericano de la Enseñanza de Idiomas. Luego de haber sido parte de los numerosos talleres y semiplenarias quisiéramos resaltar la importancia de introducir nuevas estrategias y técnicas en nuestro diario quehacer pedagógico.

¿Qué implica innovar?
La innovación se puede generar desde diferentes perspectivas. Por ejemplo, desde aplicar una nueva técnica para el desarrollo de la comprensión auditiva hasta mirar desde una nueva óptica y por ende dar un nuevo uso a una técnica ya conocida a fin de atender a los nuevos estilos de aprendizaje. Sin embargo, para innovar es necesario conocer los nuevos propulsores de cambio para la enseñanza del idioma inglés como lengua extranjera. Temas como “habilidades blandas”…..cobran relevancia al convertirse en las fuentes de las corrientes innovadoras.

jueves, 11 de octubre de 2018

“Enrique, would you like to be a speaker  

               in the national congress we are organizing?”                                                                   

                                                           By Enrique Rojas R.
    It was a cold and habitually gray afternoon of August 2007 in Lima, and I heard this proposal from who was my boss at that time (and still is today), Marita de la Lama, Director of Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad del Pacífico. Naturally, I was dazzled and delighted to have been chosen since the speakers at that now historical happening were just a handful. Something that has varied substantially with time.

                  Many years have passed and many congresses have taken place with brilliant success, eleven to be exact. The event became a tradition in the environment of language learning; in fact, it acquired enormous importance and an international scope. And my participation in each one of them became customary as well, which demonstrated the bounteous tolerance of my superiors. As a matter of fact, I think I can proudly say that only Marita and I have been constant lecturers in each one of these renowned and splendid celebrations in the milieu of language teaching. And taking the risk of sounding stuck up I feel tempted to say that on the occasion of the coming 12th congress, I won’t only be in charge of a workshop but, for the third time, in addition to this, I’m going to dare to participate in one of the semi-plenaries, precisely the one with which the event closes, the round table. That makes me a happy man. My enthusiasm and passion are being recognized.

         Due to my professional mass media upbringing I don’t use the first person in my writings. But in this case I’m presenting a very personal account of something I have seen sprout, grow and bloom since its inception as a seed in my boss’ ever restless and innovative brain. She has always thought that we cannot be just “another language school.”  As part of a university we have the mission to shed light on the path, to lead the way in our endeavor of teaching languages, to steer the professional educators in the field toward the achievement of improvement, innovation and progress. And this is what we are trying to do. The annual congress is one of the ways to do it.
     That first assembly congregated just 80 enthusiasts. Now 330 people participate wholeheartedly in the event. They come from the whole nation and even from beyond our borders. Many more would like to attend but, we cannot accommodate them in our facilities and we wouldn’t like to make the event massive anyway. 
        Our first congresses took place in a major hotel facility. As a matter of fact, I remember when we arrived to prepare everything and found in horror that there had been a sweet fifteen party and the place hadn’t been cleaned and tidied. Marita and Karen, our Administrative Coordinator, were on the verge of having a heart attack. But I don’t exaggerate when I say that our CIDUP administrative team has always done miracles, through the years and since the very beginning. By the time the first guests began to arrive, everything was ready and perfect, nothing was out of place and the organization of our congresses’ has thus been characterized for being impeccable, from the first to the last of them.

         That is why I can foresee, with absolute confidence, that our 12th Congress this year is going to be equally successful and flawless. And I expect to see you there!

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. 

jueves, 27 de septiembre de 2018


To continue with the same things leads us to anachronism. Innovation leads us to progress. Renew your teaching attending our 12th Congress!


Sergio is an ELT Manager for National Geographic Learning, South America; MA in ELT, University of Southampton, United Kingdom; and Bachelor of Arts, Modern Languages, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia. Certified in ELTS and DELF.
Sergio has taught English to children, youngsters and adults for more than 10 years. He has also worked for different publishers, developing English programs and  classroom management strategies. Being a teacher trainer at several institutions allow him to share this experience and joy for teaching.

Dorothy holds an MA in TEFL from the School for International Training in Vermont, USA. After teaching ESL for over 25 years, she now concentrates on writing and editing materials and conducting teacher-training workshops. Most recently she was a plenary speaker for IATEFL 2018 in the UK. Her areas of specialty an interest are teaching writing, teaching reading, business English, academic English, testing and humor. A prolific textbook author and editor, Dorothy is a co-author for Macmillan’s flagship course Open Mind and  the series consultant and co-author for the dual skills course Skillful. Website: http://dorothyzemach.com

María de la Lama holds a Maters’s degree in Applied Linguistics and Bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Linguistics both from the University of California. She also holds and MBA from Universidad del Pacifico. Currently she is the Director of Centro de Idiomas - Universidad del Pacífico.