CONTINUOUS VIRTUAL TRAINING PROGRAM FOR IN SERVICE ENGLISH SCHOOL TEACHERS OF THE PLURINATIONAL STATE OF BOLIVIA
by Gonzalo Fortún Berdecio (Bolivia). Academic Coordinator at Bi National Center CBA – Sucre’s.
The Plurinational State of Bolivia, formerly known as the Republic of Bolivia has suffered several – perhaps too many – changes concerning its educational system, some highly positive, others of not great relevance, yet some that have greatly harmed it.
The last and hopefully long lasting change has recently been launched after the approval of the Avelino Siñani and Elizardo Perez Educational Reform Law, which in its Chapter III, Linguistic and Sociocultural Diversity, Article 7- Use of official and foreign language, paragraph 5 – establishes: “Teaching of a Foreign Language. The teaching of a foreign language starts in a gradual and mandatory fashion from the first years of school, using pertinent methodology and specialized personnel, continuing in all levels of the Plurinational Educational System.”
Being the English language the most widely spread language in the world, not only in business but in education, it is it the language to be taught as a foreign language in the State.
However, a question arises, who are going to be in charge of doing the job? English teachers, of course. English Teaching professionals graduated from 5 Language Schools around the country. Teachers who have been incorporated in the so called Teachers Rank, “Ecalafón Docente”, thanks to the application of the Barrientos Law promulgated in the late 60s, declaring the teaching of languages a free profession. This law was still in use until the law 1565 was promulgated as the Educational Reform of 1994. Ever since, not too many newly graduates from language Schools around the country have been hired by the public school system, but by the private one, being the public system the one that conglomerates the highest number of students.
The reality based on observations and testimonies from state school teachers is that Universities cease their efforts once the professional finishes his/her studies. The occasional, once-a-year, English Teachers Conventions organized by the Bolivian English Teachers Association (BETA) tries – almost unsuccessfully- to cope with the needs English Teachers have. Projects such as the “British Project” launched in the early 90s has managed to keep itself alive up to date, but its results are already past story.
The reality is that English School Teachers are left alone for them to find the way to update their knowledge and command of the English Language in order to do their job the best way possible.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT
A Continuous Virtual Training Program For In Service English School Teachers Of The Plurinational State Of Bolivia can gradually solve the deficiencies that English Teachers have around the country by means of offering a program of the following characteristics.
The CTPISET is a modular program. It is organized in 1 month modules each one with an specific content to be developed.
The CTPISET has a basic curricula emergent from a study done with English Teachers from the City of Sucre by means of the application of a needs-analysis questionnaire and interviews to School Directors.
The CTPISET is continuous because it is a non-stop program offered all year around on a virtual basis.
The CTPISET is virtual because is delivered through a virtual platform on the internet accessed by English Teachers selected and registered by their local BETA representative.
The CTPISET curricula is dynamic since its contents vary from time to time based on new Needs Analysis questionnaires applied and feedback received from participants or new candidates.
METHODOLOGY AND ARGUMENTATION
The methodology that used in updating and training programs for English teachers is focused in the development of a reflective practice, aiming for all participants to become Reflective Practitioners, autonomous teachers capable of reflecting in and on their practice.
Why should teachers be educated to ever become reflective practitioners? (There is no hierarchy nor chronology on the following reasons).
We aim to reach a reflective practice that:
• Completes their professional education.
• Favors the accumulation of experiential knowledge, best practices.
• Helps face an increasingly task complexity.
• Favors peer interaction.
• Increases innovative capability.
If the necessary support is obtained, the CTPISET can be launched in year 2012 reaching in its first stage local teachers from the City of Sucre, later extending its coverage, to a national level. However, economical support is necessary in order to set the technological support and material for the program as well as the complicity of the Teacher Associations.
About the Author:
Gonzalo Fortún Berdecio. Academic Coordinator at Bi National Center CBA – Sucre’s . Shaping the Way We Teach English National Coordinator. Level Four Diploma in the Theory and Methodology of TESOL, TESOL Global College. Senior ESOL Teacher Status. Certified Teacher Trainer. Quechua Graduate from UMRPSFXCH. ESP Specialist, University of Oregon.