Getting Teachers Ready to Teach
The Situation in Chile
In March, 2012, Profesor Hiram Vivanco Torres stated that only half of the teachers of English in Chile, are teachers of English (page 9, “Critical Diagnosis of Current Teacher Training Programs in Chile”, British Council, 2012).
He reached this conclusion after studying a document known as “SIDOC“. In Spanish, this abbreviation stands for, “Sistema de Idoneidad Docente“. This document provides information about the education qualifications of the teachers in a specific school, in every school in Chile.
On page 10, he provides a region by region breakdown of the teachers. He contrasts the number of qualified teachers, 4671, with the total number of teachers 9056. So we can see that he is justified in stating that approximately half of the teachers of English are not qualified.
Let me repeat: 50% of the teachers of English in Chile are not qualified. As a result, nobody is surprised when only 18% of the students in 11th grade passed the 2012 National English Test, known as SIMCE Inglés.
It is impossible to pass an English test if the English teacher, is not an English teacher. The high rate of failure is clearly explained, in Chile, we do not have enough qualified Teachers of English. There is a tremendous shortage.
This lack of English teachers creates classic market conditions of supply and demand. When the supply of qualified teachers of English is low, the schools that pay the best salaries, will get the best teachers.
This explains why more than 80% (80 out of every 100) of the students who attend private schools were able to pass the test, while only 0.8% (8 out of every 1000) of students in public schools passed the test.
Chile Needs More Teachers
I live in Chile, the most beautiful country in the world. Why do I make such a seemingly outrageous claim? Upon what evidence do I rest my case that Chile is the most beautiful of all the countries in the world? Tp put it simply, I use a mirror.
Time itself is the “mirror” I use to “reflect” Chile’s great natural beauty. I look in the old books, written one hundred and two hundred years ago, even 300 years ago. The writers of the past “reflect” a country in my minds eye that I have come to know in its present form. It is the same country the authors of old describe:
“Chile is a ribbon of a country, an emerald and gold strip stretched between the snow-crowned wall of the Andes and the blue waters of the Pacific.”
“Thirty times as long as it is wide, Chilean territory runs from the
seventeenth to the fifty-sixth degree of south latitude, for, with a Pacific coast measuring nearly three thousand miles the average breadth is no more than ninety.”
“It is a land of extreme contrasts; of great violence, of great serenity: but whether harsh or smiling, Chile is a stimulating, a promising land holding the mind and the heart. It is a breeder of men and women of forcible character.” – L. E. Elliot, page 1, 1922. “Chile: Today and Tomorrow“.
An ancient legend legend says that after God finished making all the other countries of the world, he looked around him. There were bits and pieces of all the other countries leftover. So he put them all together. That is how Chile was born.”
This is the foundation upon which I rest my claim that Chile is the most beautiful country on Earth. If your country is beautiful, and Chile contains your country within it, then Chile by definition is more beautiful, because she contains the elements of all the beautiful countries, magnifying its beauty exponentially.
So, if you are a teacher of English, qualified, competent, then I urge you, come to Chile. I want to share something with you. Chile is rich in culture, tradition and beauty. As a teacher of English, you are desperately needed.
English is the key that opens doors to opportunity in this globalized world we live in today. English increases economic, social, and professional growth of individuals and of nations. When the citizens of different nations can communicate in a common language, there is greater opportunity to promote the development of peace and prosperity for everyone on Earth.
In Chile, we simply don’t have enough trained, competent, qualified teachers of English. That’s the big problem, one of quantity. But quality is also a problem.
When a teacher graduates from university, after 5 or 6 years of study, but can’t speak English, then quality is poor. Everyone suffers. The teacher will spend an entire career, 35 or 40 years, as a fraud. Teaching English, in Spanish, means the students will never learn to speak fluently, to converse effortlessly in English.
Recently, only this past Sunday, a report in a leading newspaper stated how most of the high school graduates entering university to study English Pedagogy come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and have the lowest scores on the university entrance exams. In other words, new teachers are not coming from the best possible candidates, but the lowest, in general. Being a teacher simply is not an attractive career option for our best and brightest students.
Teacher training has been unregulated. Different universities teach different programs. It has been reported by reliable sources that as many as 165 different Teacher training programs exist. There are no minimum standards defined as to what a teacher of English must know and be able to do. A team from a leading university is currently working on establishing standards for teachers of English.
Things don’t look like there will be any changes soon. Efforts are underway to attract best students into teaching. Standards will be defined. Teachers will have to achieve not only pedagogical standards, but also a baseline level of English will be established. Surely the teachers will be required to recertify their language abilities at some reasonable interval (every 2 or 3 years).
It is difficult to be optimistic when you look at the current situation. The future is here, today, right now, and Chile is not prepared to communicate with the rest of the world in English. Change is happening slow, too slow. At the present rate, it will take 50 years (minimum) to reach an acceptable level of competency.
If that happens the 21st century will surely pass Chile by, and leave us all behind. The opportunity of globalization is dependent on successful communication, and for now, English is the language of international communication, intercultural communication, and more important, personal communication between the people of the world.
For these reasons, I urge you to come to Chile. If you are a teacher of English, trained, qualified, competent, energetic, enthusiastic, and lovers of great natural beauty and an ancient culture, then Chile is waiting for you…