Chile’s National English Test (SIMCE INGLÉS 2012) Awarded to INSTITUTO CHILENO BRITANICO DE CULTURA

Transparency. Transparency in government is a very ancient concept.
According to Wikipedia: “It dates back to the Age of Enlightenment, which is sometimes called the “Age of Reason”.

Weimar’s Courtyard of the Muses demonstrates the importance of Weimar. Schiller is reading; on the far left (seated) Wieland and Herder, Goethe standing on the right in front of the pillar. 1860 painting by Theobald von Oer Christian Wolff (1679–1754) was the pioneer as a writer who expounded the Enlightenment to German readers; he legitimized German as a philosophic language.[

There is little consensus on the precise beginning of the Age of Enlightenment; the beginning of the 18th century (1701) or the middle of the 17th century (1650) are often used as an approximate starting point. (end of quote)

I am now going to generalize its meaning, in an attempt to make it useful for my purposes. So, forgive me if I oversimplify the concept. I do not mean to be absurd, only clear in my meaning.

Here goes: I am a Teacher of English. I want to know more about the Chilean National English test, known as “SIMCE Inglés” in Spanish.

What test is going to be used by the Ministry of Education (Mineduc) for my students this year. So, what do I do?

I go to the government webpage related to SIMCE Inglés. There I can find no information about Simce 2012.

OK, nothing new, so it must be official that the SIMCE Inglés test is the same as 2010. There is no information that says things have changed.

Next, I want to know when the test is going to be. So, I check out the SIMCE test calendar. Here I see that the English test is scheduled for 2012 and 2014.

Next, I would like to know the date of the test. So, I check out the information page: Información SIMCE 2012 Here, it shows the SIMCE English test dates: 13-14-15 November.

Now I’m ready. I know the test will be: same as in 2010. I know the date of the test also.

Now I can prepare my students with some exam specific material. Right?

Wrong.

There’s a problem. A colleague informs me that the test is not the same as in 2010.

Now, I’m confused. Why?

Well, the official SIMCE webpage says nothing about a new test. Now, let me be honest. There are a lot of people who say there will be a change. But, nobody has produced any evidence to support what they say.

So, what to do?

That’s what brings me to the idea of transparency in government. When governments sign contracts with private organizations, they make the information available for the public to see, to know what has happened, so everyone is informed.

So, I decide to take a look at the contract for the SIMCE English test. My first stop is Google. I “google” the term, “SIMCE Inglés 2012”. Here I find the following webpage listed: Ficha Licitación Nº 592-15-LP12 SERVICIO DE APLICACIÓN CENSAL DE TEST SIMCE INGLÉS

Next, I click on the link and go to the page, to see what I can see. When I get there, I see a document called, “Acta de Adjudicación”. It means in English: Documents related to the awarding of the contract.

That’s exactly what I want to know, so I click on the pictured document. It brings me to another document, called: “Resolutión de Acta de Adjudicación“. In English, it means: “Here are the results” or something very close to that.

On this page, it shows clearly that the winner is INSTITUTO CHILENO BRITANICO DE CULTURA.

According to the specifications of the contract, it means that the Chilean National English Test for 2012 and 2014 will be the a test that is capable of showing student results at Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels A1 (Lower Basic), A2 (Upper Basic), and B1 (Independent User).

What that means for Chile is a tremendous improvement over the 2010 Chilean National Test of English. That test only showed 11% of Chilean students at level A2. 89% of Chilean students failed to achieve level A2.

There was no information given on level A1, and none on level B1. In other words, a huge amount of data about where exactly Chilean students are at in their developmental process of learning English, was unreported.

So, should teachers keep doing what they are doing? Should teachers abandon what they are doing in light of the 11% passing rate. The 2010 gave us no data from which to base that kind of decision on.

Yes, we know what the best schools are doing. But we did not learn whether we were close to achieving our obnjective, or if we were far away.

This year, for the first time ever, Chile is going to have the kind of robust, rich, quantitative data from which to make some important policy, curriculum and teacher quality decisions on.

There will also be qualitative data collected, about the teachers’ practices, education, beliefs about teaching and learning. Also, another important dimension, the student’s perception of the importance of English, for them, in a personal way, will be collected. This information gives a holistic picture of the teaching and learning of English in Chile. I am sure we will find out some amazing information, again, this year.

Still, after all that, I am left with one question uppermost in my mind: How Long Is Chile Going to Test Only Two (2) Skills?

I do not believe anyone can offer a coherent explanation for testing only 2 skills (reading and listening), when the curriculum specifies the teaching of 4 skills (reading, listening, speaking, and writing).

The danger of testing only 2 skills must be clear in everyone’s mind. If you only test 2 skills (reading and listening), then why am I wasting my students time on these other 2 skills (writing and speaking)? (This is called “washback“.)

Testing defines what is taught in all systems of education which uses standardised tests. Giving extra time to skills that are not tested is a good way to have poor results. Put another way, if I maximise my instruction time on those areas that are tested, I will most likely have better test results.

Sadly, the contract calls for only two (2) skills to be tested in 2012 and 2014.

It is obviously too late to correct this deficiency for the 2012 test.

Can four skills be tested in 2014?

That’s a very good question.

First of all, we must be clear. Chile did not pay for four tests. We paid for only 2 tests, reading and listening. To test all students on all four (4) skills, it will require more money be spent.

What would I do if I were the Minister of Education, and someone like me, suggested that testing only two (2) skills would be potentially dangerous and very harmful for the learning of English in Chile, especially for students in municipal and subsidised schools?

Dangerous? Harmful?

Yes, dangerous and harmful, sure to occur, if it is not already happening. Let me explain.

It is a common practice in private schools for students to take full international exams (all four skills). KET (level A2), PET (level B1), FCE (level B2), and even CAE (level C1) exams are routinely taken, year after year, and successfully passed in high percentages, by students in private schools in Chile.

At International Baccalaureate schools, for example, English is learned at a very high level. It is common for students in 6th grade to read, write, speak, and listen with very high levels of proficiency.

In other words, a student at a municipal school or at a subsidised school might never, in their entire lifetime, ever have the opportunity to take a full, four skill, international exam to certify their level of English.

This is a human resource, quality of life, aspirational tragedy.
Why?

Because worldwide, tests which validate only 2 skills are looked upon very badly by employers and universities.

This is because in the past there would often be students with very high test scores on listening and reading.

However, when these students were accepted for study at university or given a job in an international company, it soon became evident that they could not speak English and could not write English well enough to study or work successfully.

For this reason, both TOEFL and TOEIC now test all four skils.

I wonder out loud how long it will be before Chile tests all four skills?

According to TOEIC: “When the TOEIC Speaking and Writing tests are taken together with the TOEIC® Listening and Reading test, they provide a reliable measurement of all four English language communication skills.”

What about the TOEFL? The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test contents goes even further. It integrates all four skills, and clearly emphasizes this point:

The TOEFL iBT® test is given in English and administered via the internet. There are four sections (listening, reading, speaking and writing) which take a total of about four and a half hours to complete.

Combining All Four Skills: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing

During the test, you are asked to perform tasks that combine more than one skill, such as:

Read, listen and then speak in response to a question
Listen and then speak in response to a question
Read, listen and then write in response to a question
(end of quote)

Oh, I forgot, I’m supposed to be the Minister of Education in this hypothetical. Well, if I were the Minister of Education (I’m not), I would not change anything for this year, 2012.

Why not? It is much too late in the academic year to put everything in place, to put all of the administrative, technical, and organizational, not to mention the human resources needed to test 240 thousand students on four skills.

Again, it is too late to do all of that this academic year.

For 2014, however, I would leave no stone unturned, I would bear any burden, economic or otherwise, to ensure that all the students in Chile are tested on all four skills.

Why is this crucial?

I can only answer by asking another question: Why do we test students, in Maths, on multiplication and division, and not just addition and subtraction?

No one would argue that a student who can add, can also multiply. No one would argue that a student who can subtract, can also divide.

So, is there anyone you know who believes that a student who can read English, can also write English?

Of course not.

Reading and writing are two different skills. One does not equate to the ability to do the other.

The same is also true of listening and speaking. Understanding spoken English (listening) is not the same as being able to speak English.

For that reason, 2012 would be the absolute last year for testing only two skills. It’s not a very wise policy, to try to equate performance in two skills as being equal to performing 4 skils.

To concluse, I ask one more question. Do you remember the children’s story about the Emperor’s New Clothes? It’s by Hans Christian Anderson. Yes?

Well, we have got to open our eyes, like the child in the story did, and recognise that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. The Emperor is naked.

Just like the “Emperor’s New Clothes”, a two (2) skill National English Test (SIMCE Inglés) is also a test that is not “wearing any clothes”.

It’s a “naked test”, and should not be allowed out in public, where “fully-clothed” tests “wear4 skills, and are respected by both university admission officials and employers at international companies…

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La Desconferencia

La Desconferencia: EdCamp Santiago
(Spanish Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Soy un maestro. Soy el más afortunado de todos quienes trabajan. A un médico se le permite traer una vida en un momento mágico. A mí se me permite que esa vida renazca día a a día con nuevas preguntas, ideas y amistades.

EdCamp Santiago es la desconferencia. Entrada gratuita, desarrollo profesional, por profesores, para profesores. Compartir en vez de competir, aprendizaje entre pares. Participantes comparten y intercambian sus mejores prácticas pedagógicas: “Best Practices”.

Product Details
File Size: 676 KB
Print Length: 107 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: Spanish
ASIN: B008302H4G

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La Desconferencia: EdCamp Santiago (Volume 2) [Paperback]

Product Details
Paperback: 138 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (May 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477467734
ISBN-13: 978-1477467732

Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces

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Amazon Author Page: Thomas Jerome Baker

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My Dear Friend: Welcome to Chile (Essays from a Teacher in Chile) [Kindle Edition]

Book Description
Publication Date: February 19, 2012
My Dear Friend, Welcome to Chile.

This book shares the personal sentiment of its author, an expat, after having lived the past ten years in Chile. He says:

“I live in Chile, the most beautiful country in the world.”

He continues: “As I say these words, I want you to know that I come from the United States of America, a country that stretches from sea to shining sea, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The USA is indeed a magnificent country, but it isn’t Chile…”

http://amzn.to/PNd5Wx

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EdCamp Santiago: The First Seven Days [Kindle Edition]

Book Description
Publication Date: March 4, 2012
Dedicated to all the educators, world-wide, who have participated in an EdCamp. Go forth, spread the word to the far corners of the Earth, something is happening. There’s something going on, a R(E)volution in teacher professional development. It’s called EdCamp….

A conference, that’s not a conference. An “unconference” is a better term. A new paradigm in teacher professional development, a new, creative, innovative way of staying up to date on what matters most to teachers. As I said, it’s a paradigm shift in teacher professional development. Let me repeat: Paradigm Shift.

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Being A Teacher in Chile [Kindle Edition]

Book Description
Publication Date: May 3, 2012
“How do you become a good teacher?” Those of you who know me from reading my writing already know my answer. The short answer, the simple answer, the easy to understand answer. It has two parts.
First, love what you do. Love being a teacher so much that if you had the power to be anything on Earth, pilot, astronaut, doctor, dentist, taxi-driver, singer, dancer, artist, musician, anything at all, you would still choose to be a teacher. Love being a teacher, that’s number one.

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Soy Un Maestro: I Am A Teacher [Paperback]

I am a teacher, and I teach in Chile. This year a new Teacher Career Law, defining the teaching profession in terms of increased prestige, attracting more applicants from higher performing students, an obligatory enabling exam, higher salaries, fewer hours teaching in the classroom, and higher responsibilities wil be passed, hopefully. This book totally supports the idea that a good law is needed, and now is the time to pass one, even if that law is not yet perfect. We Teachers have such a long way to go, and this is clearly a tremendous step in the right direction. To celebrate, all of the funds received for the sale of this book will go to support the EdCamp Santiago free conference for teachers in Chile. Thank you, in advance, for buying this book. May God Bless You…

Soy el más afortunado de todos quienes trabajan. A un médico se le permite traer una vida en un momento mágico. A mí se me permite que esa vida renazca día a a día con nuevas preguntas, ideas y amistades. Un arquitecto sabe que si construye con cuidado, su estructura puede permanecer por siglos. Un maestro sabe que si construye con amor y verdad, lo que construya durará para siempre.

Book Details
Paperback: 170 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (July 3, 2012)
Language: English/Spanish
ISBN-10: 1478176520
ISBN-13: 978-1478176527

Soy Un Maestro: I Am A Teacher [Kindle Edition]

Soy Un Maestro: I Am A Teacher [Kindle Edition]

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La Desconferencia: EdCamp Santiago (Spanish Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Book Description
Publication Date: May 12, 2012
Soy un maestro. Soy el más afortunado de todos quienes trabajan. A un médico se le permite traer una vida en un momento mágico. A mí se me permite que esa vida renazca día a a día con nuevas preguntas, ideas y amistades.

EdCamp Santiago es la desconferencia. Entrada gratuita, desarrollo profesional, por profesores, para profesores. Compartir en vez de competir, aprendizaje entre pares. Participantes comparten y intercambian sus mejores prácticas pedagógicas: “Best Practices”.

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The Chilean National English Test [Kindle Edition]

Book Description

Publication Date: March 25, 2012

SIMCE Ingles 2010: The development of the national English test in Chile coincides with my story, which is woven autobiographically into the larger story, a test which apparently resulted in only 11% of students able to achieve a passing score.

This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will reveal secrets to you that you thought you already knew about tests, test-making, and test-reporting.

More importantly, if you are a teacher, you leave the reading of this book with a renewed sense of confidence in who you are, and what you do…

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Celtic Warrior Queen Boudicca

Statue of Queen Boudicca on the Thames River in London

What is deemed as “history” is often determined by those who survived to write it. In other words, history is written by the victors. The Roman historian, Tacitus, left us an account of the Roman victory over Queen Boudicca in the year A.D. 60-61.

Prasutagus, the wealthy King of the Iceni tribe, had died. Upon his death, his wife, Queen Boudicca, became the new ruler of the Iceni tribe. She headed a rebellion against the occupying Romans in Britain in A.D. 60 in which more than seventy thousand Romans were killed. The rebellion was eventually crushed and Boudicca committed suicide. So, this is a neat, sweet his-story with a happy ending, if you were on the Roman side, that is.

Yet undeniably, every community has a memory of itself. Not a history, nor an archive, nor an authoritative record, but a living memory, an awareness of a collective identity woven of a thousand stories.

Now, with the help of the Roman historian Tacitus, I shall tell you Queen Boudicca’s story, her-story……

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Boudicca: Her Story
[Kindle Edition]

What is deemed as “his-story” is often determined by those who survived to write it. In other words, history is written by the victors. The Roman historian, Tacitus, left us an account of the Roman victory over Queen Boudicca in the year A.D. 60-61.

Yet undeniably, every community has a memory of itself. Not a history, nor an archive, nor an authoritative record, but a living memory, an awareness of a collective identity woven of a thousand stories.

Now, with the help of the Roman historian Tacitus, I shall tell you Queen Boudicca’s story, her-story……

Boudicca: Her Story [Kindle Edition]

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Pecha Kucha & ELT

I saw my first Pecha Kucha over three years ago. It was when I was working at Universidad Andrés Bello at Campus Casona in Santiago with the students in the English Pedagogy program. I admit I’ve been fascinated by “Pecha Kucha” ever since that first time. I remember being very impressed by the performance I watched. There were a number of reasons for this. For now, let me share with you why I find Pecha Kucha to be so impressive and fascinating as a presentation technique.
Firstly, when we speak of our first time doing something enjoyable, it’s always a good feeling. We like what we like, we know what we like, and because of that, we return often, to what we like.

As you can tell by now, I like Pecha Kucha.

Secondly, its principles are easy to understand and apply. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it’s effective, it’s collaborative, it’s visual, it’s easy to prepare, it’s fun. However, it does require practice, lots of it, to do this really well. Practice, oh what a sweet word in the ears of any EFL teacher. Students practicing what they are going to say, again and again, going over their own words, to speak about images they themselves have selected. Volumes of practice, huge quantities of practice, helping the students to achieve the eventual automaticity that is the hallmark of mastery.

Having said that, of all the principles of the Pecha Kucha, the most important principle is this: images are powerful.

Images convey meaning and emotions. In fact, the whole range of the human experience can be conveyed by images. For example, think of the images left on the walls of caves by cave men. No one needs a cave man to verbalize what you are seeing. You feel it – through your eyes – to your brain – to your emotions. It’s visual storytelling. That’s what the Pecha Kucha is, visual literacy in its purest form…

Pecha Kucha & ELT
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The International Baccalaureate [Kindle Edition]

The International Baccalaureate [Paperback]

The global search for high-quality education, embedded in high-performing education systems, has taken on mythical proportions, almost resembling the alchemists’ quest to turn common metals into gold.

It is my hope that the present day search for global education, equitable and providing equality of opportunity for all, shall not cease until the “gold” we seek, has been found.

I therefore dedicate this book to all the educators, researchers, parents and students the world over, who strive to achieve this elusive goal,high-quality education for all the citizens of the world.

In this endeavour, it is my belief that the International Baccalaureate merits a closer look, based on their more than 40 year history of delivering consistently excellent results.

I add that all of the reflections and views in this book are mine alone, unless otherwise noted, and can not be attributed to my employer or any other organization I am affiliated with, past or present. For any errors or oversights, I bear the complete responsibility.

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Amazon Author Page:

Thomas Jerome Baker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Head of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.

He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.

Edcamp Santiago 2013 is currently looking for volunteers to help organize the annual event. If you are interested, contact Edcamp Santiago! Your help will make all the difference!

Email: edcampstgo@gmail.com
Facebook: Edcamp Santiago
!Like our page on Facebook please!
Read our Blog!
Edcamp Santiago on LinkedIn
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Twitter: @EdcampSantiago

Es una red que reúne a Profesionales de la Educación preocupados por desarrollar y fortalecer las capacidades de sus comunidades educativas, a través de la creatividad, la innovación y el emprendimiento.

Thomas was recently selected for membership in the Comunidad de Innovación Escolar of the Foundation Telefónica and Foundation Educación 2020. It is a network that brings together education professionals concerned with developing and strengthening the capacities of their educational communities through creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Thomas is also a past member (2011-2012) of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile.

Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of forty four (44) books overall.

The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Jerome-Baker/e/B007G9HJFM

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About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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