Regional English Language Office
The Regional English Language Office was established in 2005 in the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru to support public diplomacy outreach through English language teaching and training in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. It cooperates with Ministries of Education, Binational Centers, professional teachers’ associations, Fulbright, Peace Corps, public and private universities and other higher education institutes, among other partners, in order to build a stronger understanding between the peoples of the Andean region of Latin America and the U.S.
USIL Conference Launches Online Component
From September 30 to October 1, 2011 RELO Andes took part in University of San Ignacio Loyola’s “14th Annual ELT Conference: Preparing our Students for University: Rising to the Challenge.” Joining guest speakers from the U.S. and Peru, Senior English Language Fellow Vicky Holdridge conducted a workshop, “Teaching Public Speaking Techniques,” and Regional English Language Officer David Fay gave one of two opening plenaries, “Painting Chewing Gum: How English is Being Taught in the Andean Region… and how it is not.” The crowd of approximately 130 academics were drawn to the event by the focus on strategies for English language education at primary, secondary and university levels. For the first time in Peru’s ELT professional development history, the conference was linked virtually to a group of approximately 40 participants at the USIL campus in Cusco.
RELO Andes Outreach to Arequipa
From October 26 to 28, 2011, the U.S. Embassy’s Regional English Language Office provided support to two key projects, an ongoing 240-hour teacher training project for English teachers in public schools and an English for Tourism Purposes project. The former project was developed by Arequipa’s only Pedagogical Institute, which provides the region with future generations of English teachers, among other subjects.
RELO Andes Webinar Drives Home Message of Face-to-Face Visit for Specialists
On October 24, 2011 English Language Specialists Fredricka Stoller and Bill Grabe conducted a webinar with a group of 10 academics in Peru who prepare future teachers of English. The webinar is a follow-on to their visit to Peru in June 2011, and serves as a review of the material, a check to ensure some of the new ideas they proposed in June transfer into actual practice, and an opportunity for the group to ask follow-on questions. The group of Academics are also responsible for drafting a training document that helps current and future English teachers teach the important skills of reading and writing. This was the first webinar for many of the participants; it was also the first webinar for professors Stoller and Grabe.
Ramblin’ Across the Andes with American Folk Music
On Monday, June 6, 2011 the American Folk Music group Ramblin’ completed a three and a half week tour that combined language learning, teacher training and a concert series in 10 cities in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Over 300 English teachers and 600 students in 10 different cities attended hands-on workshops that explored American culture and language through folk music. The concerts drew a total of over 1,000 participants. The tour emphasized the how to learn more about American language and culture through American folk music.
Ramblin’ consists of two former Fulbright ETAs, a Watson Fellow, and a fourth English teacher-musician involved in civic education project in the Bay Area. In preparation for the tour, the group prepared an illustrated book of songs and lesson plans, “Speak Up, Sing Out,” that can be used in the English language classroom. The teaching ideas were largely a result of collaboration between the group and two Senior English Language Fellows working in the Andean region, Vicky Holdridge and Stephanie Hanson. They helped fine tune the material, all of which is available for free online at http://eslfolk.com.
Bi-National Centers hosted most of the events. The workshops with students mainly involved participants in the English Access Microscholarship and College Horizons Programs. Both of these programs provide two years of after-school English language, leadership, IT and civic outreach skills to deserving teenagers. There are about 1,400 Access and College Horizons students in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. As most BNCs separate cultural and academic activities, this tour helped redefine BNC colleagues cooperate. It also stressed the natural connection between language and culture.
Apart from touching the lives of 2,000 students, teachers and viewers, the tour exposed four young, talented musicians from the U.S. to a region rich in its own folk music. Upon return from the U.S., two members of the group will return to their duties as teachers and two will go on tour as professional musicians.
ELT Upgrade Workshop Series Gathers ELT Professionals
From May 30 to June 1, 2011 28 heads of departments from national universities in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia gathered for 3 intensive days of workshops conducted by English Language Specialists Fredricka Stoller and Bill Grabe, professors at Northern Arizona University’s prestigious post-graduate English Language Teaching Faculty. The participants are all instructors at undergraduate pre-service programs and, among those from Peru, account for approximately 60% of the country’s future cadre of English teachers. Representatives from Bolivia and Ecuador attended in order to expose the Peruvian participants to slightly different models as well as to return home with new ideas from their Peruvian counterparts.
The workshops by Dr. Stoller and Dr. Grabe covered a wide range of approaches to Teaching Reading and Writing. Student motivation, student-centered instruction, critical and creating thinking skills and learner strategies were among the topics covered. Overall, the training challenged participants to break from some of the more traditional teacher-centered, comprehension check only-based practices and embrace approaches that allow students to analyze text more deeply by considering author bias, the unstated intention of an author, and the overall structure of a text. In writing, participants considered important writing steps, including using graphic organizers, brainstorming and peer editing.
The participants were divided into groups on the first day and worked each afternoon to create a list of ideas that could be adapted to fit into their own teaching context. The ideas were accompanied by another list of specific actions that they will take upon return to their institutions. Some groups worked late into the night to prepare their final presentation. The groups took into consideration that their roles both as language teachers and methodology instructors needed to be addressed.
Follow-on activities include combining the ideas and actions into a final document that will be used to guide discussions with their colleagues on camps as well as with in-service teachers in the public schools. Each participant will also draft an action plan that is specific to their institution. This document will be negotiated with their colleagues. Finally, the Regional English Language Office will moderate a new Google group with all of the participants and prepare all for a follow-up digital video conference with Dr. Grabe and Dr. Stoller in October, 2011.
RELO Lima at New Horizons English Teachers’ Conference
On Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28, slightly over 1,000 teachers, trainers, administrators and future teachers attended an English language teaching conference in Lima, Peru that was organized by the city’s Bi-National Center, ICPNA Lima. As co-sponsor, U.S. Embassy Lima featured prominently in the event. Cultural Affairs Officer Paul Degler gave opening remarks, emphasizing that the Embassy was responding to the country’s call for higher quality language education through exchange programs, including the Embassy’s new Rising Star Scholarship for outstanding public school teachers, through year-round targeted training events around the country, both face-to-face and online, and through consultations with the Ministry of Education and pre-service universities and pedagogical institutes. In 2011, the Embassy’s Regional English Language Office reached about 3,800 English teachers and, by the end of 2012, the U.S. Embassy will have spend about 2.5 million dollars on projects to boost teachers’ qualifications to teach English.
The U.S. Embassy’s Regional English Language Officer and Senior English Language Fellow gave presentations, reaching approximately 350 teachers in two sessions. Public Affairs Section staff together with Fulbright staff handed out materials and brochures as well as answered questions at the Embassy’s booth. During five long coffee breaks, the staff introduced hundreds of participants to exchange program and in-service training opportunities. The Embassy’s also moderated the final round-table with five Specialists, four of whom are from prominent universities in the U.S. and one of whom is a former Senior English Language Fellow to Peru. During this event alone, the main conference room reached its 1,100 capacity.
Critical Thinking Webinar for English Teachers
On Wednesday, February 9 and Friday, February 11, 2011, a total of approximately 230 English teachers in the Andean countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia played active roles in the webinar “Critical Thinking: Developing a Healthy Suspicion of the Text,” a one-hour webinar facilitated by Regional English Language Officer David Fay. During the session participants responded to questions by the facilitator, commented on the issues and asked questions of the facilitator and among themselves. The use of authentic materials was stressed. Participants looked at how two major newspapers covered the Cairo protests, emails can be used for phishing, and proverbs often contradict one another. Participants were also referred to a recent English Teaching Forum article as well as the State Department’s “Shaping the Way We Teach English” video-based training program.
On January 18, 2011, twelve “English Language Teaching (ELT) Czars” met at a café in downtown Lima to discuss the state of the field in Peru. The initial gathering took a “pedagogy of questions” approach and generated questions such as, “Why is the next generation of English teachers – in universities and pedagogical institutes – still in need of so much support, in terms of language skills and methodology?”, “ Apart from work with NESI, how else can the BNCs support language teachers?”, “ Can the MOE set an exam, such as the TKT or one by College Board, to pressure the universities and pedagogical institutes to raise their standards?”, “ How can an association support needed changes and increased opportunities in professional development?”, and “ To what extent is the NESI program able to respond to the need for increased language skills among public school teachers? Where are the ‘holes’ (contratados, non-ELT teachers, etc.)?”
As a follow-on, the group will meet in early March. On the agenda is a discussion of how best to make use of an upcoming English Language Specialist in assessment. Regional English Language Officer David Fay, Senior English Language Fellow Vicky Holdridge and RELO Assistant Marcela Raffo facilitated the discussion.
Follow-on programming includes developing individual learning and teaching portfolios for each of the instructors, including the 50 that are at other Pedagogical Institutes, and training at their sites to be conducted by Senior Fellow Holdridge, Fulbright ETA Norbeck, Specialists and the Regional English Language Office at U.S. Embassy Lima. A new social networking site established just for the group of Pedagogical Institute instructors will host discussions on specific topics and expose the instructors to new online tools that will complement their instruction. Specialist Leskes is scheduled to conduct four follow-on webinars for the instructors.
The program was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and Peruvian Ministry of Education.
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