Monday, October 4, 2010

English Opens Doors in the news

[UPDATE: Bizarrely, the article has been deleted. I've re-posted the full text here.]

This article is about English Opens Doors, the Ministry of Education program I technically work for. It's a well-nuanced article talking about the ups and downs of the volunteer program. The goal is for all high school seniors to be basically conversant by 2013--level B1 is the first level of "Independent User"--which I hope no one is taking too seriously.

The comments about how no one knows how the program should work to be most effective are spot-on. Every school and every teacher have different ideas about this; unfortunately, some teachers just view it as a way to lighten their workload, for example while having the volunteer teach their classes while they read a book. I've been extremely fortunate with Marcela and INSUCO, who are very supportive and very open to my ideas of how and what to teach. I guess "open" doesn't quite cover it, as they've generously assumed I know what I'm doing and let me have complete independence.

I wonder how successful the program is in terms of the Chilean system, though. My kids are definitely learning and retaining stuff, and feeling more comfortable saying things in English, and (with a couple exceptions) enjoying a good relationship with a caring adult from another culture, and I think that's the most important thing. But what does the Ministry of Education think is the most important thing? I'm skeptical that my kids will do better in the nutty Chilean English curriculum, or on the standardized tests that will measure their progress.

That's not why I'm here, though.


  1. I have similar concerns, and I don't feel like I've had enough time with my students. I think that they'd survive better in the US than they would have before I came, but I don't know that they'll do significantly better on the SIMCE. I'm worried about that.

  2. I think that what we're *actually* doing--teaching them English they can learn and use, helping them understand that they *can*--is more important. But some teachers were putting together SIMCE photocopies in the lounge today, and it's...nowhere near as basic as the Ministry seems to think it is.

    As with so many things, it's out of my hands. =)