Wow! 2015 is off to a fast start with so many things happening for me personally and professionally. I start the year off, appropriately, with a free book for my readership. But first, to catch up on the news, I was invited to participate in a very satisfying seminar for English teachers in the community of Hualpén. The teachers there are amazing, absolutely amazing. They took my breath away with their dedication to their profession, to their students, and to their own professional development. I can not thank them enough for inviting me, because I left very inspired by them. I learned so much from them.
The coordinators of the Hualpén English Teachers Network, Isabella Diaz and Yenny Gaete, have formed an incredible group of dedicated, motivated, enthusiastic, determined, cohesive and talented teachers who are doing tremendously good work and really great things in the municipal sector in Hualpén. I can’t praise them enough for the outstanding work they are doing with students from the public sector. Their students come primarily from very vulnerable, at risk for failure, low socio-economic backgrounds. The teachers are making a difference in turning that around into an epic success story.
Very importantly, they have the support of the community behind their efforts. There is a real, palpable and united effort from everyone, from the office of the mayor of Hualpén on down, to provide the very best educational opportunities to children in that community. English has been given a priority in Hualpén, from the earliest ages, starting in kindergarden. There is a belief that 2 languages can be learned at the same time. There is a belief that learning English is not a socio-economic issue, that poor children can learn English. Over time, their efforts will surely bear wonderful fruits for the children of that community. In sum, it’s the kind of stuff that makes my heart sing! I truly look forward to collaborating with those teachers whenever I can, again and again, in the future.
On a personal level, this year is a year of change for me. I will be taking on a new personal challenge, career wise. Yet at the most fundamental level, I will be doing what I love, namely, teaching English. As I have said many times, teaching English is my life. For better or for worse, English has the ability to change lives, to improve the quality of someone’s life, to open the door to economic and social opportunity, and to enrich one’s own appreciation of your own cultural heritage in numerous ways.
Related to that, today is a very good day to announce that my book about teaching and learning English in Chile which looks at the past 15 years of national English tests is available for free for 5 days. So, if you have an account at Amazon, download this book for free. For me, it is appropriate at a moment of change to look backward, to appreciate where I have been (personally and professionally) before moving on to where I want to be in the future.
This book combines my history as a teacher of English with the history of teaching and testing English in Chile. I am happy to share it with you and hope it will help you to become a better teacher, a better learner of English. I have tried to remain objective, state the facts, and use a factual evidence base to inform my thinking about testing. It is this knowledge of where we have come from, overall, that is the strongest case for where we are heading. Regardless of the snails pace we are traveling at, there can be little doubt that we are moving forward toward the ultimate goal of bilingualism in Chile (Spanish-English). In fact, I sincerely believe we are a lot closer than we think, but that’s only my opinion…
Publication Date: July 4, 2013
Bienvenido. Welcome to educational testing in Chile. The object of this book is to present as clear an account as possible of the historical development of educational testing in Chile with regards to the Chilean National English test. It is a mixed-genre, story within a story, autobiographical-historical text interwoven into one continuous, developmental narrative, of a teacher and of a nation, Chile.
The aim has been to adapt it to the needs of the great body of busy teachers and learners who have neither the time nor the means to make a comprehensive study, but are earnestly striving to be informed regarding the facts that are indispensable for an understanding of the theory and practice of modern English Language teaching, learning and testing in a foreign language context.
Why this book? This book is written by a teacher, for teachers, worldwide. It deals with questions of interpreting test results, washback, and the inevitable, preparing for international exams, regardless of type.
Yet beyond these considerations, there is the historical aspect. In today’s globalized world, it seems we forget things that happened only a decade ago. Thus, we repeat the mistakes of the past, unnecessarily. This book plays a role in remembering what we have done in the past, especially in English Language Teaching, Testing & Learning.
Yet, is this book able to make a contribution? Does it provide new knowledge, new insights? Despite the hasty conceived generalization that socioeconomic factors explain everything, I believe this book has something new to say, the ability to shed a fresh light, from a different, closer perspective than what we have been provided thus far. I am talking about the view from the classroom, the teacher’s “unheard voice” to what has been left unsaid…
Yes, the public, worldwide, is often led to believe that poor children can’t learn. They go to poor schools, with weak teachers, with low hopes and low self-esteem, hopeless and helpless. Yes, we know, this is what worldwide is often the case for the underprivileged masses.
To exemplify, Carolina Schmidt, the former Minister of Education, here in Chile, said, (I paraphrase in my own words): The situation here in Chile is that learning English is a socioeconomic privilege. I hope the reading of this book will lead you to draw a different, more hopeful, conclusion. Some child’s very future could depend on it…