By Mayra Yaranga
A new year has started and the time has come for resolution lists! Apart from eating more healthily and doing more exercise after the high in calories Christmas season, professionals should also reflect on how 2018 will make a difference in their careers. What about foreign language teachers? There are several areas where we can make resolutions… and fulfil them!
What should be on top of our academic/professional resolution list? Without any doubt, the language competence component. The best way to prove a real improvement in this aspect is sitting (and of course, passing) an English international examination. Besides, the feeling of achievement may motivate you to venture into more challenging duties within language teaching. However, we advise teachers to be careful when choosing a date: perhaps it is more advisable to sit a test early in the year, because the last three months are usually full of activities that leave teachers physically and mentally exhausted.
Another very important action to take is to start a study or a debate group. Some experts believe teachers’ command of the foreign language might become fossilised if it is only used to give instructions and explain through metalanguage. Do teachers have many chances to voice their views on a range of topics and push themselves to show their best lexical repertoire? A group can be the best option to try this.
Of course, methodology cannot be ignored in our perseverance list. One good action to try during the year is peer observation. Asking colleagues for their insights on our practices and techniques can be an incredibly revealing experience, and can throw light on aspects which we might have taken for granted. The most important benefit is that the observation can be carried out without the associated feeling of being evaluated for ‘quality control’ purposes, which scares even the most experienced teachers.
Another action that can help us make a difference this year is attending talks or conferences on foreign language teaching. Even if this is a requirement at work, having an open mind can help us discover, or re-discover, many aspects about our work that we might have forgotten. Sharing with other colleagues what we have learned and tried in our classes would be an interesting way to consolidate this learning.
Educational commitment at a broader scale:
One final resolution has to do with our commitment to the teaching profession. It is true: we are already committed by being part of the professional environment at work, or by studying to improve our skills. However, I believe that teachers cannot and should not remain passive before the wider context of educational policy on foreign language teaching or the measures taken to address the problems education faces in our country. We should not limit ourselves because we teach foreign languages – being informed is our right and our duty.
Now it is your turn:
What are your 2018 resolutions in the professional aspect?
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.