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Un breve reporte de como USA analiza la perspectiva de su propio desempeño en la Prueba Pisa (Programa para la evaluación de estudiantes a nivel internacional), dónde 34 paises lograrón un puntaje superior al suyo en Matemáticas.
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Tal vez nuestro país que consiguiò un puesto por debajo a èse (y con sus propios y únicos desafíos), tenga algo que rescatar de este análisis.

Los analistas,especialistas y educadores americanos comparan los factores comúnes y tendencias internacionales de los primeros puestos (Bélgica,Suiza, Los Países Bajos )- porque llegó el momento de identificar que es lo que se debe cambiar. Si se desea lograr niveles más competitivos en estas famosas pruebas internacionales , se hace necesaria una re-ingeniera educacional que incluya los siguientes elementos:

Altos niveles de calidad educativa y expectativas superiores, un ambiente estudiantil mejorado que incluya desarrollo académico y mejores sueldos para los profesores; una cultura donde el desarrollo académico sea valorado, padres involucrados en el desarrollo de sus hijos y líderes educativos que insistan en lograr la excelencia académica.

Y en el Perú como afrontamos estos retos?
Altos niveles de calidad educativa y expectativas superiores- ¿Cuales son las expectativas del país a nivel mundial? las expectativas del colegio respecto a sus alumnos, la de los padres con sus hijos? Las mías? Por mi parte, de que mi hija se desarrolle en todas las habilidades que pueda y sobre todo en las que muestre alguna aptitud y habilidad para ella. Me encantaría que la escuela le brinde muchas, pero ya aprendí que las del deporte, las debo buscar en otros sitios (Colegio María Reyna con su fuerte programa de deportes- programa vacacional cerca de la casa; Alianza Francesa con su divertido programa de Francès, que ya lo experimento le encantó ; Natación y Tennis porque las actividades físicas también son una prioridad- ambos con módicos costos y cercanos a casa.

Material de trabajo (contenido, clases) diseñado con creatividad- Porque las clases deben ser diseñadas con creatividad, Los alumnos actuales dominan la tecnología, y cada vez se les exige mas (desde los chiquitines) hasta los adultos (que estan inmersos en mil y un projectos : Maestría, idiomas, las demandas del mismo trabajo, la casa, el hogar,etc).
El profesor debe interactuar con una generación , que tiene un tiempo de atención reducido a pequeños fragmentos ( bloque de 5 a 10 minutos seguidos- según la edad) y él mismo adaptarse a esa necesidad actual. Hoy más que nunca el profesor debe ser un ser independiente en el salòn de clases, que siga la currícula pero con libertad total para modificarla según los propios requerimientos de la clase. Hoy educación es sinónimo de innovación y tecnología.

Una cultura dónde el desarrollo académico sea valorado- Creo que en este sentido en nuestro país No tenemos ningún problema. Porque aquí valoramos todo logro educacional, es más vemos a la educación como una puerta para salir adelante, como esa oportunidad que No podemos rechazar¡ Pero lo que sí debe mejorar es el nivel en que los padres se involucran en las actividades de sus hijos- porque estamos formando seres humano,empezando en su parte más sensible: la niñez. Educamos niños quienes No podrán comprender aún la magnitud de este tema, pero si necesitan el estímulo y presencia física de sus progenitores.

Líderes educativos que insistan en alcanzar la excelencia académica- hablamos aquí solo de los especialistas, directores,etc? Los padres son los primeros educadores, entonces también deben expresarse y ser escuchados. Cuantas veces me he comunicado con la profesora de mi hija para expresar mis preocupaciones en diferentes aspectos y No habré ganado todas las batallas, pero Nos sirvio enormemente para saber como enfrentar y resolver nuestros propios desafíos (exceso de tareas, tiempo libre para practicar deportes por motivos de salud, entre otros).

El artículo del New York Times que insipira mi blog, resalta una problemática muy particular en el sistema escolar americano: los niños genios NO reciben la estimulación académica necesaria para sobresalir y por ende se pierden – pasan desapercibidos dentro de un sistema escolar agobiado por el recorte de recursos, y que carece de profesores altamente capacitados para identificarlos y e instruirlos.
Los analistas le recomiendan al gobierno americano invertir fondos agresivamente en la elaboración de programas que favorezcan a los niños genios. Los niños genios es un tema que Perú tampoco puede ignorar o hacerse el sordo, Nuestro Perú no puede quedarse atrás y desarrollar programas que identifiquen a estos niños de diferentes estratos y brindarles todas posibilidades de crecimiento, para que este talento No se pierda o lo aproveche otro país…. En fin tanto por hacer, que ya es hora de comenzar¡

Cuantos aspectos tan distintos entrelazados en un sólo objetivo: la excelencia académica. Tiene el Perú los mismos desafíos? Su estrategia de crecimiento incluye estos aspectos? Veamos que puesto conseguimos en la próxima evaluación PISA

Based on the latest educational article published by The New York Times on December 15, 2013.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/opinion/sunday/in-math-and-science-the-best-fend-for-themselves.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0

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Successful Learning Strategies for ESOL learners: Adults and Adolescents

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After completing an exhaustive research about how to incorporate Internet Resources in an adult English Language program, I selected three articles: Technology in Adult Education ESOL Classes by Nancy Ball, Using pretask modeling to encourage collaborative learning opportunities by YouJin Kim, and Making the instructional curriculum as an interactive, contextualized process: case studies of seven ESOL teachers by Rosemary Wette from the University of Auckland. These three articles stress the fact that during the 21st century, technology has invaded all industries. Consequently, the adult learners now have more access to electronic devices that can help them learn a language faster while using all their skills: kinesthetic, musical, auditorial, visual, etc. Also another important factor that helps adults learners to be effective when learning a new language is the pre-modeling task since it shows them how to communicate with a purpose.

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Reading is also a key element in the process of learning a new language that must be re-taught. Adult students’ attention should be diverted from individual words to the message of the whole text. Students struggle with the reading process and teachers must help students overcome their bad reading habits and cultivate better ones.

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Today’s world is filled with technology resources such as cellphones, iPods, laptops and Internet which makes us aware that Technology improves the quality and impact of the lessons, helping students perform better. Consequently, Technology is nowadays a key component to the success of English Language learners (Ball 12-19). The engagement aspect of technology is another important benefit. All learners need stimulation and varied learning methods. Technology offers students the chance to “do” as they learn, using hands and minds. Clicking the mouse or typing words on the keyboard gives them physical stimulation. The eWorkbook and eExam online tools provided by Icon help students to keep engaged with the learning objectives of the class at any time.
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Many online activities provide instant visual and/or verbal feedback with congratulations or corrections. Students whose instruction includes music videos are developing their listening skills. When maps, graphs, text or pictures are part of an online lesson, reading and study skills are exercised.
Another notable advantage of technology used with items such as computers and iPods is that learning becomes self-paced. Students have more control over their learning. 
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They can repeat exercises as they choose, or move on to the next items. They can determine which activities are most important to their needs and focus on those. Beare (1999) writes regarding the adult ESOL classroom, “Probably the strongest argument for the use of the computer in the classroom environment is that of student self-pacing.” For example, he notes that students using the computer for pronunciation help can record themselves and then repeat the process until they are satisfied with the results.

The Power of Technology
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Ms Ball mentions Beare`s words (1999) who also agrees about the power of technology in the classroom. He contends that computers provide advantages over more traditional instructional approaches. Beares notes that computers not only offer the option of listening exercises, but also the use of students` motor skills for typing, which can provide further enticement for learning.

The use of technology in the classroom environment also prepares students to search for and find information on the Internet. These learning opportunities then expand into “real life” as students become competent in finding information on their own. Using technology such as iPods and laptops also allows students to hear more than just the teachers voice in instruction.

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Listening to a podcast, doing an online dictation activity or filling in lyrics from a music video requires students to concentrate on hearing English from another source. It broadens their ability to hear and understand English, and it also shows students a range of resources, which they might use, outside the classroom.

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Hopey (1999) notes the use of technology have grown “exponentially” in adult literacy and adult education. Hopey states that “evidence exists that adults who use educational technology can acquire greater knowledge and develop active learning skills, problem solving skills and critical thinking skills”. Hopey also says program directors see technology as a way to motivate adult learners to attend classes.  He points out that adults attend programs when they see their learning goals being met. Technology can make instruction more vigorous and teach students ways to better function in the world.

Bash (2003) refers to the adult students as learners who constantly bring new experiences into their classrooms based on their own current work and life challenges. Adult students have more dramatic shifts in their educational needs that those of younger students.  Boulmetis  (1999) writes that the use of technology can be instrumental in helping adult students achieve their learning goals.  Thus the implementation of technology is beneficial to adult ed programs for student retention. The authors explain that teachers new role remains essential as facilitators in helping students and note that even when technologically delivered instruction is used, learners still need assistance from teachers.  It is important to change trends of the past to student centered using technology. Online learning engages adults and helps with workforce readiness as well as allows self-paced study.
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Using music videos and other technology can enhance instruction and make it more real and engaging to students. Studies have found that students who are engaged in and interact with their learning retain more information.
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At the Peruvian American Cultural Institute (ICPNA), a monthly project (at the end of the cycle/month) allows students to incorporate media when working on their ALP`s projects (Automated Learner´s Project). Students find exciting and engaging ways to incorporate their electronics devices to produce a Video of fun activity where they role-play conversations with the vocabulary language or expressions learned during the cycle.  Another magnificent factor is how adults enjoy, have fun using the language : expressions, words, grammatical structures while learning them. Students feel successful carrying on a conversation in the target language. Personally, when looking at them (enjoying these activities), I am reminded of how children learn their first language: playing and enjoying. In other words, Adult students become children when internalizing another language- the highest point in learning.
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Instructors can also use the Internet to incorporate activities that allow friendly competition among students. For example, an engaging review of class material can be done through Jeopardy games and forming teams to answer curriculum based questions. There are many websites, which provide Jeopardy templates.
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But in today`s 21st century society, new and creative resources are needed to help students achieve their goals of greater English proficiency and improved work skills. Adult education programs that incorporate technology in their teaching offer students the best opportunity to build not only their language skills but work and life skills as well. Students in these programs are likely to vote enthusiastically with their feet- and show up for ESOL Classes.

Pretask Modeling is one way to encourage discussion about language form and promote collaboration during task performance (Youjim ). The provision of pretask activities, such as models of task performance, may help students understand the goal of the task and identify ways of interacting that will facilitate task performance while generating learning opportunities.

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Pretask modelling is an effective pedagogical technique for helping young EFL students discuss language form and adopt collaborative pair dynamics. Learners who received pretask modeling produced more LREs and correctly resolved a greater proportion of those LREs (Resolution of Language Related Episodes) than learners who did not receive any models.

These studies show that learners direct their attention to language form while carrying our collaborative tasks with their peers are largely successful at providing each other with feedback and obtaining answers to their questions; and remember of subsequently produce the language forms that they discussed while collaborating.
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Pair tasks are beneficial when they elicit collaborative pair dynamics and high levels of engagement. It is important to identify successful techniques for eliciting learner interaction with these characteristics.  This is particularly important in instructional contexts where learners may be unfamiliar with collaborative tasks or may be inclined to rely on the first language (L1) rather than communicate in the target language. Trainers should model how learners should interact. Mutuality refers to level of engagement between the learners, with high mutuality characterized by reciprocal feedback, consistent response and idea-sharing. High Mutuality, which is found in collaborative pairs, is beneficial for L2 learning because both learners are engaged in task performance.  These studies show that students who received modeling with metalinguistic terms generated more LREs than students who received modeling without metalinguistic terms. The findings highlight the potential benefit of pretask modeling for encouraging learners to discuss language forms during collaborative tasks.

In instructional contexts where learners may be unaccustomed to communicating with their peers in L2 due to the shared L1, pretask modeling may help them learn how to carry pedagogic tasks collaboratively in L2, solve their linguistic problems during task performance, and provide appropriate answers to their questions. Students who received pretask modeling showed more collaborative interaction that the control group.

This theory is based in a study performed to Korean middle School students who received pretask models. These students produced significantly more LREs and correctly resolved those LREs more often than students who did not receive models. They also demonstrated greater collaboration than students who had not viewed models prior to task performance. In short, the findings suggest that pretask modeling may be a useful tool for encouraging students to interact in ways that are believed to promote L2 learning during peer interaction. Advocates of task-based language teaching (e.g.Willis & Willis, 2007) have suggested that L2 teachers provide students with models of task performance, and the current findings indicate that this may be an effective technique for eliciting LREs and facilitating collaboration.

A relaxed classroom atmosphere encourages learners to participate actively, take risks and feel able to disclose difficulties, needs and preferences (Wette 337-365). It is also extremely important to introduce students to pair and group work and of bonding class members as a group in the initial phase of the course. When students feel comfortable in classroom setting that will be more willing to participate in communicative activities.
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How is Reading incorporated in class these days

Regarding teaching adult learners reading skills, teachers must use the process approach to reading in an EFL class. Teachers must help students overcome their bad reading habits and cultivate better ones (Wette 337-365). Students `attention should be diverted from individual words to the message of the whole text. Reading activities should start in an interesting way: showing the students pictures relevant to the lesson, providing them with a situation or a topic to provoke lively discussions, asking them a sequence of inductive questions, etc. Each introduction must be designed to suit the objective of the lesson.

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With the picture, the author gained the students attention at the very beginning of the lesson – In other`s words, he or she activated student´s schemata.
Students are naturally interested and enthusiastic about the topic. A lively discussion followed, with active participation from the students.
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All this paved the way for the ensuing reading task. These warm-ups help students tune in to reading- physically, emotionally and intellectually – and motivate them to read actively and effectively. Thought- provoking questions kept up the students motivation and interest in the lesson and increased their involvement in the reading. With the questions as concrete tasks, the students had a purpose for reading, which made it somewhat like authentic reading.

The pre-reading questions were designed to assess understanding of the whole passage. Immediate feedback was expected, and students were challenged to answer as quickly as possible.  Reading like this definitely helps students overcome the word-by-word reading habit.

Reality demands that a teacher make full use of the class time showing the students how to read so as to develop the skills they need to become effective independent readers. Teachers become more of an organizer or a director, but never as a lecturer. Students learned that efficient reading is a process of constantly making and remaking hypotheses. Students must be aware of the potential of their prior knowledge and experience, the active use of which is crucial to reading. Understanding that flexibility is a sign of a good reader. Students must learn how to read selectively and how to skim and scan, two kinds of basic fast reading. Large chunks of writing can be skipped over to achieve the reading purpose in short time.

Currently, The student’s cultural background plays an important role in reading comprehension. That is why ESOL teachers must find engaging ways to stimulate students schemata and put their minds into a receptive frame of mind so the reading material is more comprehensible by linking the student’s mind the prior knowledge.           

In Conclusion these articles set the frame for  a new breed of ESOL teachers who must be prepared to become facilitators instead of lecturers.

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The new ESOL teacher of the 21st century must be ready to activate the students mind to receive new information and by activating or awakening their current knowledge.
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Technology has reshaped how students learned and these new resources must be utilized for the success of the learner – No one can settled for less: neither the students, parents or teachers. An educational institution should provide learning environments that foster the use of technological tools when teaching languages- ignore this educational trends will only delay student`s progress.

ESOL teachers must always pre-model any activity to guide students to produce an expected response.

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These strategies are fundamental for the success of a ESOL adult or adolescent learner, since they validate their previous knowledge, provide tools to be used at their own pace and give them guidelines for practice that pave the way for communication.

References

Ball, Nancy. “Technology in Adult Education ESOL Classes.” Journal of Adult Education. 40.1 (2011): 12-19. Print.

 

Youjim, Kim. “Using pre task modelling to encourage collaborative learning opportunities.” 5. (2010): n. page. Print.

 

Wette, Rosemary. “Making the instructional curriculum as an interactive, contextualized process: case studies of seven ESOL teachers.” Language Teaching Research. (2009): 337-365. Print.