viernes, 23 de febrero de 2018

Robotizing, Can we Prevent it?

By Flor de María Vila

Nobody is exempted from becoming accustomed to what is easy, pleasant, beautiful, relaxing, or familiar. In fact, there is no reason to consider coming to be habituated to those things as being even evil. However, when getting used to staying in our comfort zone makes us, teachers, turn into sort of androids, only then, this becomes more dangerous than anything else in our profession.
In a teaching context, robotizing implies becoming mechanical, always waiting for instructions and, in a way, not exerting control of our professional life. The idea of robotizing makes me think of not being able to be proactive.

What are the “symptoms” of having already turned into a robot?
a.    Teaching by the book.
b.    Becoming predictable
c.    Not making any changes when giving a lesson even if this is done with students of different characteristics.
d.    Clinging blindly to the same teaching strategy because “that´s the one that works.”
Even if we present one or more of these features, we may still believe that is not important since we possess experience and knowledge. Unfortunately, I have to remark that being experienced and knowledgeable is not enough. It is very valuable to demonstrate expertise and knowledge. The problem is not being able to use those qualities in the best manner may turn to be a disaster.  

What are the threats of switching into a robot?
a.    Replacement: If we do not use our experience and knowledge in the best way, we will be one more of the many teachers that share the same tired characteristics.
b.    A demanding job market: The job market will always try to find personnel with the qualities that help satisfy its clients. In our context, this means teachers who are experts, educated, efficient, effective and adaptable. The last quality is an inescapable requirement since the current students do not have the same features as those our students of 5 or 10 years ago had; let alone the students we used to teach when we graduated.  Efficiency and efficacy are definitely crucial since the offer of learning a language in the shortest and fastest way is available at the tip of the fingers, meaning that the offer of a number of apps has increased a lot lately. If our experience and knowledge are not enough to help achieve the objective of learning efficiently, we will become a candidate to be replaced. Believe me, there are many willing and brand new teachers waiting for a vacancy.
c.    Experience and knowledge: Believe or not, those same advantages could become our doom. Staying in our comfort zone and believing those to be our endless treasures may blind us and inhibit us from taking the opportunities that could help us evolve.

What is then the way out?

a.    Take your backpack of knowledge and experience and use it to your benefit.
b.    Hauling your backpack, cross the path of proactivity to reach its other end: innovation. The prize: a guarantee of keeping your attractiveness for the job market and definitely a quality of not being easily replaceable.

I could not end this article without mentioning the importance of being honest to ourselves and to our students. We became teachers because we decided to do so. There is no such idea that we chose this profession because there was nothing better to do or because we just happen to know the language we are teaching. We could have decided to be tourist guides, we could have begun a career in international sales or any other plausible job. We decided to become teachers and this is a responsibility we have acquired. We cannot fail our students’ expectation that we are going to do our job: help them achieve their learning objective and do whatever it takes to succeed in doing that.

Are there any other threats of robotizing? 
Feel free to share your views on this subject


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).

miércoles, 14 de febrero de 2018

Commitment, Some Needed Fuel for Educational Institutions

By Enrique Rojas R.

Thinking about resolutions for 2018, the question may pop out, “Why should it be important for us, language teachers, to be committed to the goals of the organization we work for?” “What’s in for us as individuals?” The answer is that this issue is crucial for our health, physiological, psychological and spiritual. We cannot be happy if we do not believe in what we do.
The MBASkool Business Dictionary, a resource of management terms and concepts, defines Organizational Commitment as “the psychological attachment that an employee has with their organization.” And adds: “This plays a big role in ascertaining the bond that the employee shares with the organization. This also helps in determining the value of an employee to an organization. Employees with higher commitment are more constructive and proactive with their work.” And this certainly applies to teachers who are seen as the personification of the institutions they represent.
It was in the middle of the sixties when the first studies on organizational commitment appeared in the United States ensuing the studies of Lodhal and Kejner. In other western countries these theories gained momentum in the 70s.
Meyer and Allen's (1991) formulated a model of commitment based on components that correspond with different psychological states. They are: Affective commitment, that is, “the employee's emotional attachment to the company, acquired as a result of the satisfaction of the Organization with the needs and expectations that the worker feels,”(1) Commitment to continuation, which has to do with the time and effort that the person has for his permanence in the company and that would be lost if he leaves the job. And, the gratitude that the worker experiences and feels must reciprocate to the company for the benefits they have obtained (personalized treatment, work improvements, etc.).This is known as Regulatory commitment.
This is fine looking at it from the organization’s perspective. But, from the point of view of the teacher, what satisfaction can they obtain from their work if their goals and expectations do not match those objectives of the organization they represent?
And this can pose a serious existential problem. It will mark the difference between being a motivated professional educator and a huckster, a mercenary of education.
Unlike other professions, to which people are attracted for more practical or worldly reasons, there is usually a good deal of idealism in the decision to be a teacher, so a learning institution which existence is only destined to produce profits, is not likely to have teachers who are happy and committed.
On the other hand, as with other professionals, organizational commitment for teachers affects other dimensions such as turnover, teacher’s behavior, organizational citizenship, teacher’s productivity and teacher wellbeing.
For certain teachers, such as those in public or private grade and secondary schools there’s a certain degree of job security, at least during the academic year. That does not happen for the teachers of language institutes or language centers where classes are assigned in accordance with registration, which in many cases evolves into job insecurity and fear. When there is higher job security that makes an employee trust the organization more and commitment increases. Otherwise, it is certainly not a factor contributing to organizational commitment. Also the turnover tends to be high in these latter organizations. Low pay rates also have a devastating effect in commitment.
The perquisites and fringe benefits offered to teachers by this type of establishments also differ greatly. While some of them hire their educators formally and grant them the benefits of law, many of them do not, and deal with them as temporary or sporadic workers. It is a well-known fact that a company that provides benefits for its employees demonstrates good will towards them and keeps them happy, which lays the foundations for a solid organizational commitment.
The problem is if organizational commitment is the bond that teachers and other employees experience with their organizations, it is more likely that teachers’ ideals may align with those of many universities, public schools and some private ones, but hardly with those business organizations made solely to produce profit and economic rewards that the owners are not likely to be willing to share with the educators.
In sum, everybody should be faithful to him that pays their salary, but it is evident that commitment is a two way street. It is something that should be gained and not just demanded. It is perhaps not very realistic to expect great loyalty from people who are overworked and underpaid. On the other hand we should work for those institutions whose objectives toward education are similar to ours. And, along with them, give it all to achieve them. And we shall be happier!


MBASkool Business Dictionary, Dictionary of Business Concepts, 2017.

           Lodahl, T.M. and Kejner, M.M. (1965) The Definition and Measurement of Job Involvement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 49, 24-33.
          Mercurio, Zachary A. (2015-12-01). "Affective Commitment as a Core Essence of Organizational Commitment An Integrative Literature Review". Human Resource Development Review. 14 (4): 389–414. 
          Meyer, J. P.; Allen, N. J. (1991). "A three-component conceptualization of organizational commitment". Human Resource Management Review. 1:  61. doi:10.1016/1053-4822(91)90011-Z.

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, 1 de febrero de 2018


                                                     By Zarela Cruz

Being professional may mean more than we can imagine. At first sight, we may think that it demands to make the most of our professional skills at work. Not exactly. It means much more. Since it is not taught, but picked up along our careers, the list below may help you redefine this concept.

 1. Do you respect your company policies?

 2. Do you treat company property with care and respect?

 3. Do you take your work seriously?

 4. Are you organized?

 5. Are you punctual?   
 6. Are you a reliable worker?

 7. Are you a positive person?

 8. Are you willing to help?

 9. Do you avoid teachers’ room drama and 
     worker gossip?

10. Do you pay attention to dress code and personal 

This list may go on and on. Needless to say, we may have different definitions and different backgrounds. However, we all agree that, when it comes to professionalism, we want to show our best “us”.

It is more than the way we conduct ourselves in our working place; it is about the way we behave, it is about who we are as individuals.

We do not pretend to be either superheroes or geniuses, but we all would like to be part of the solution more than of the problem. We cannot deny that a pleasant working environment depends mostly on the workers themselves. If we know what is going on in our institutions, if we work hard to be (and look!) accountable, if we commit ourselves  to doing our best every day, we are on the right track.

Easier said than done? Let us know by sharing your own experience and/or giving advice to your colleagues.


What does ‘Being Professional’ mean to you?
Are you up to 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 in Translation. This article aims to reflect on the concept of professionalism at work.