jueves, 23 de agosto de 2018

Teacher’s guide: a Guide or a Strait-Jacket?

                                                            By Zarela Cruz

When it comes to preparing our class, our main frame is the Teacher’s Guide. There is a point in which we wonder if it is helpful or if, eventually, it restricts our creativity.

Let’s analyze the facts.

Novice vs experienced teachers
For novice teachers, a Teacher’s Guide is like a bible: it contains all pedagogical aspects to be taken into account; it tells them what to do step by step so it is an excellent back up.

Tailor-made or ready to use?
The information in the Teacher’s Guide does not necessarily fit our institution’s goals. However, it may be helpful and supportive.

Below, a list of pros:
  •  It definitely saves time.    
  •  It explains how activities can be used since they   are suggested by their own authors.
  •  It describes the methodological approach of the textbook.
  •  It supplies extra materials such as exams, exercises, handouts, CDs and even an eZone!

And now, a list of cons:
  •  It restricts your creativity.
  • ·You may feel that the sequence of your class is imposed by what the           book states for a specific unit or chapter.
  •  You do not have the chance to create your own examples.
  •  You may not include your own experience or know-how.

Do any of these reasons sound familiar to you? There has always been a debate about the usefulness of such a guide: some teachers are convinced that they bring not only variety to class but also invaluable help. On the other hand, there is also a number of teachers that think it is a good start, but it should not be definite.

Your turn:
How do you see the teacher’s guide?
Has it always meant the same to you?

Retrieved from:
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 a Teacher’s Guide.

viernes, 17 de agosto de 2018

Teaching a foreign language: are we on the right track?

                                                                                               By María de la Lama

Technological developments, especially in the area of communications, have sped up the globalization process that we are all witnessing today. In the business world, in particular, it seems that technology has faded away the thousands of miles that set countries apart. However, when it comes to international communication conducted in English, the unmistakable lingua franca for business, difficulties in communication persist.    It becomes evident that Technology by itself then does not free us from the reality that without a good command of the language being used to interchange ideas in an international context, any attempt to communicate orally may end up as a frustrating experience.

 Globalization has not only affected the way business is conducted, but also the manner in which business professionals need to be prepared to face the challenge. New skills are required from the business professional, and the skill of being communicatively competent in English is on top of the list. It pertains then to educational institutions to devise different approaches and methodologies to endow future business professionals with the capacity to communicate in English fluently and accurately. 

Therefore, the question to be answered is how to improve the process to learn a foreign language.  To try to find an answer in the emergence of a new method or approach would be somehow simplistic.  It is however through the analysis of successful methodologies where accurate indicators of what works in any effective language program can be found. A recurring trend of effective methodologies seems to be the insertion of content in language programs, once students have reached a basic command of the foreign language. Content in this sense refers to the knowledge to be acquired in a given area such as history, science or administration, to name only a few.    Nowadays there is increasing evidence that learning something new through a second or foreign language will boost the students’ competence in that language.   Objectives of language programs seem to be switching from the learning of grammar or vocabulary to acquiring knowledge in an area of interest and relevance for the participants.  In the case of business professionals, the focus of a language training program could be, for instance, to employ English to deepen their knowledge of marketing or accounting.  

This content- based instruction model in the teaching of foreign languages has many advantages. First, students receive in English a great deal of input about a topic. This enables them to concentrate on the message rather than the form, i.e. what is being said instead of how it is being said, which is a much closer reflection of a real communication process. Second, in this natural acquisition of knowledge  students develop strategies to cope with the language such as asking for clarification, confirming or restating main points to mention only a few.  Finally, since the selection of the contents to be learnt is done according to the students’ interests, a high level of motivation will be sustained throughout the language program, furthering a quick acquisition of linguistic skills.  

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.