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Action Research International Linguistic Levels_Ana Maria Hurtado

Action Research International Linguistic Levels_Ana Maria Hurtado

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  • Category 1:Opinion abouttheintroduction of international standards
  • Category 2:Information about International levels
  • Category 3:Streaming students according to their linguistic level on entry
  • Category 4: Class Size
  • Category 5:Teachers’ and Students’ Roles
  • Category 6:The“plateau”effect
  • Category 7:Quality of Initial TeacherTraining
  • Category 8:Teachinglexis
  • Category9:Building up team work

Action Research for the Definition of Communicative and Linguistic Standards in an English Teaching Course of a Chilean University

Author: Ana María Hurtado Maldonado Chile, 2006

ABSTRACT This action research project aimed at establishing in a precise, rational and consensual way the linguistic and communicative levels that the students of the English Teaching Course of Universidad San Sebastian should be able to attain at the end of 1st to 4th years. Specifically ,we wanted to involve the teachers and students to: - discuss the general aims of the English Teaching Department related to the development of communicative & linguistic skills in English; - propose consensual changes in the contents of the School Curriculum in relation to the development of these skills; - monitor the process of change in the students’ linguistic and communicative skills, taking into consideration their needs and national Ministry of Education policies. According to the nature of this research focus –which implies improvement and curricular change—the methodology of this study was qualitative. It was, thus, oriented to the process of discovery, exploration and description. It monitored the change, taking into account the voices of the different actors: teachers and students. The method chosen to conduct this project was action research. It was, therefore, collaborative, carried out by a practitioner and its purpose was that of improving the situation in the specific context of the School of English Teaching of the University. In the action research process, the following controversial issues were brought up by the participants: 1. The state of English teaching in Chile at the present time and the feasibility of introducing international levels over various time scales 2. How well informed teachers and students are about international standards 3. Connections between the different components of the language improvement curricular programmes 4. Streaming students according to their linguistic level on entry 5. Students’ attitudes towards learning 6. Quality of initial teacher training 7. The development of team work among the teachers Different teams of teachers implemented the proposals of this project in this University. New ideas and paths of action have come up as the process of


reflection and self-criticism continues and as the national and international scenarios continue evolving. Key words: action research, curricular change, international standards


II III IV V VI VII Introduction Definition of the Issue The Context and Relevance of the Issue Boundaries and Constraints Principles of Procedure Research Methodology Data Analysis and Interpretation A – Computer Adaptive Test B – Semi-Structured Interviews VIII Categories: Interviews with Teachers and Students 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Opinion about the introduction of international standards Information about international standards Streaming students according to their linguistic level on entry Class size Teachers’ and students’ roles The “plateau” effect Quality of initial teacher training Teaching lexis Building up team work



Appendix 1 -Common Reference Levels: Global Scale (Extracted from the Common European Framework for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment), Council of Europe Appendix 2 – University of Cambridge Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) exams Appendix 3 – Standards of Language Competence: English Teaching School, Universidad San Sebastián Appendix 4 - English Teaching Course Plans


Propose consensual changes in the contents of the School Curricula in the area of development of the communicative and linguistic skills in English. Furthermore. There was also the need to standardise the language we were using to define these levels. Specific Objectives 1. i. However. teaching English as a foreign language.I – INTRODUCTION There was something that was disconcerting. 5 . I felt we needed to discuss. These definitions and statements should take into account the purpose of our students’ L2 learning. clarify and define consensually and accurately what general linguistic and communicative standards the students could realistically attain at the end of each year of the English Teaching Course. designating parameters for the description of language use. rational and consensual way the linguistic and communicative levels that our students of the English Teaching Course should be able to attain at the end of years one to four of their course. Monitor the process of change to align the objectives of the School curricula to the national policies stated by the Chilean Ministry of Education. The English Teaching Course of Universidad San Sebastián had fixed general statements about the levels of proficiency in English that the students had to attain each semester in its course programmes. 2. and to identify clearly the stages in their process of acquiring the target language. 3. II – DEFINITION OF THE ISSUE I wanted to start a process aimed at establishing in a precise.e. we needed to specify the goals and outcomes of the English Teaching Course. Discuss the general aims of the School of English Teaching of USS in the area of the development of communicative and linguistic skills in English at each of the years of the Course.

There are some documents that we considered to give an account of the context of this project: 1. The Mineduc defined the following targets to be attained by 2010. On the other hand. Chilean Ministry of Education: Teaching Competence Standards (November 2000) 2. Chilean EFL Standards and ALTE levels While I was carrying out this project. there are some others that require a description. 3. Chilean Ministry of Education: Framework for Good Teaching 3. the subjects related to developing competence in English. 2. 4. However. During these years it had had two different Course Plans. The School of English Teaching started in 2001. the Chilean Ministry of Education determined specific levels of English to be achieved by 8 th graders and 12th graders. Course Plan in the Area of English 1. 1. had not changed in the Plan. as we will see later (see item 5: Course Plan in the Area of English Language). the contents had been modified according to the perceived contextual needs of the country. However.III – THE CONTEXT Universidad San Sebastián was founded in 1890. Programme of the Ministry of Education: “English Opens Doors” These documents are well known in Chile. as well as by EFL teachers. • • • For 8th graders For 12th graders Teachers of English Alte 1: Waystage Alte 2: Threshold Alte 3: Independent 6 . Chilean EFL Standards and ALTE levels USS Profile of the Graduate (2002) USS Faculty of Education: Mission (2003) University of San Sebastián English Teaching School: Course Project Document 5. The changes in the course plans reflect the growing relevance that initial teacher training has been gaining in teacher training in general in Chile.

competent in their discipline and with attitudes in agreement with the values that our University promotes.” (The translation and underlining is ours. USS Faculty of Education: Mission Mission “The mission of the Faculty of Education of the University of San Sebastián is to train teachers with pedagogical vocation. reflective thinking. In this sense.2. Economy management 3. research and self-evaluation. to contribute to the improvement of the quality of education. we develop a teaching culture that orientates its pedagogical practices by means of permanent professional development. we implement a global-humanistic curriculum that emphasises the educational praxis and the development of educational programmes that use innovative teaching and technological resources. Communication (including communication in a L2). University of San Sebastián English Teaching School: Course Project Document The School of English Teaching stated in its Course Project Document a professional profile which is characterised as follows: 7 .) 4. USS Profile of the Graduate (2002) It was defined in terms of competences and classified into two areas: Area of Values and Attitudes Creativity and innovation Self-management Team work Area of Professional Development Intellectual leadership. For this purpose. which includes discipline mastery.

) early contact with schools through participative observation broad view of the educational system equipped with methodological tools for EFL teaching critical mind aware of the psychological characteristics of the adolescent self-reflective knowledge and practice of effective methodologies and new technologies motivated. the course book “New Interchange”. communicative teaching. was used from 2001 to 2003. in the following chart. Pedagogical training 3. Course Plan in the Area of English Language The subjects that develop the communicative competence in English are “Lengua Inglesa” and “Práctica de la Lengua Inglesa”. 8 . dynamic and participative The study plan includes subjects in the following three areas: 1. English language 2. I would like to explain.- good mastery of the English language (through immersion. starting from the second in the series. To provide a clear picture of the contents of these subjects. Year “Lengua Inglesa” “Práctica de la Lengua Inglesa” Number of pedagogical hours in the academic year 232 First 1) General English 2) Speaking 3) Listening 4) Reading & Writing Second Third Fourth 1) General English 2) Speaking & Listening 3) Reading & Writing 1) General English 2) Proficiency 3) Usage 1) General English 2) Proficiency 3) Usage TOTAL 174 174 174 754 In the General English component. Initial teacher training 5. etc. what skills are meant to be developed in each of them.

Relevance of the issue Our students were going to be the first English teaching graduates of the University (which later expanded to Puerto Montt. We decided to start implementing This 9 . This document was mainly based on “A Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Hashemi. where all the lecturers attended and were given a document about the communicative and linguistic aims of the Course (see Appendix 3). & Sharp. & Sharp. what the students learn. Valdivia and Santiago). Course First year Second year Third year Fourth year Course Book Objective PET. Council was constituted by the Director and four lecturers. W. Assessment”. Third and Fourth years. We are in the process of shaping our identity as a working team of teachers. CUP Objective FCE. Our School of English Teaching held a meeting in October.. L. CUP. being open to changes. A. Capel. CUP Objective FCE. 2003 and decided to implement the European Union standards in our teaching in a gradual way. Richards. In 2003. & Thomas. we started using other course books in the First. A. trying different methodologies. The document was prepared by the School Council in October. the Ministry of Education announced the goals and deadlines for the implementation of international standards.. produced by the Council of Europe. J.. how we develop them. what they think about their process of learning an L2 and how they see their progress from year to year? The issue stated is relevant if we consider the fact that this is a young School. We needed to imprint an identifying seal to these professionals.In 2004. W. But how is this identity being shaped? How is this expressed in terms of the English language skills that we intend to develop in our students. Learning. Teaching. CUP At the beginning of 2004. Capel. according to our intention to introduce international standards in the English Teaching Course. there was a School meeting. 2003 New Interchange 3. B. 2003.

In 2004. Empowerment.Alte 2 level materials in the 1st year of the course and Alte 3 level materials in the 3rd and 4th years. I had bear in mind that being under research can provoke anxiety. In this approach. The following principles were communicated to the participants and respected at all instances. so that all research transactions were handled with strict reserve and professionalism. therefore. owners of change. 1. This research monitored this process of change. 10 . Consequently. Freedom. Therefore. the approach was that of the “reflective practitioner” (Schon 1983. 4. I intended this experience to help trigger a teacher development instance which could empower us to suggest and make the necessary changes to the present situation. constructors of their personal meanings. to reflect on what was happening in our school and how they saw its projection in terms of English teaching and teacher education. works on a part-time basis and with short-term contracts. Respect and openness to all the different opinions and attitudes. initiators of their development. The teaching staff with long term contracts consists of: • • 1 Director and EFL teacher 3 EFL teachers There is very little time for meetings or interviews and. The results of this research are meant to contribute to improve the quality of the teaching and learning processes in the School. Confidentiality. V – PRINCIPLES AND PROCEDURES When dealing with the participants. the teachers participated in this project on a voluntary basis. 3. we started implementing these innovations. Names were anonymised. as we can see in the Course Plan (item 8 of the “Context”). The model is non-prescriptive and “bottom-up”. The participants held the right to accept or refuse to participate in the research. all the people involved were well informed about the aims of the project and the ethos underlying it. This means that I had to appeal to the teachers’ motivation to develop professionally. 2. The teachers and students are the subjects of this research and the ownership of this project is meant to be with them. the teachers are seen as explorers of their own classrooms. Wajnryb 1992). IV – BOUNDARIES AND CONSTRAINTS Most of the teaching staff of the English Teaching Course.

c) Semi-structured interview with 2 focus groups of students: .RESEARCH METHODOLOGY According to the nature of this research focus –which implies improvement and curricular change—the methodology of this study is qualitative. i. therefore. Semi-structured interviews with seven EFL teachers from the USS English Teaching School.e. a) Including the documents mentioned in III. Oxford University Press). exploration and description. • • 11 . 122 students out of 134. It has been.“The Context” b) Application of a Placement Test to the students of the English Teaching course (Quick Placement Test. The method chosen to carry out this project is action research. therefore. It has been intended to monitor the change. Written account of events: journal. collaborative. oriented to the process of discovery. Ninety one percent of the total number of students took the test.All the above was crucial as I intended this project to be collaborative and participative. a figure which is very representative. thus. taking into account the voices of the main actors: teachers. VI . carried out by a practitioner and its purpose has been that of improving the present situation in the specific context of the School of English Teaching of our University. students. According to this methodology.3rd year students: Focus group 2 (students using Course book “Objective FCE”) These interviews were recorded and transcribed. I planned the following stages in the development of the enquiry: • • • Development of the research question within the field of ELT Curriculum and Teacher Development Literature review Data collection. an atmosphere of trust and respect had to be created. all of which were recorded and transcribed.1st year students: Focus group 1 (students using Course book “Objective PET”) . It is.

VII DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION A – Computer Adaptive Test The Computer Adaptive Test chosen was the Quick Placement Test. Reading. which was taken by 91% of the students of the Course. a percentage that is very representative. The results of this Placement test were the following: Placement Test First Year s t n 20 e d u 15 t S f o r 10 e b m 5 ú N 20 12 14 1 0 1 2 3 1 4 1 5 0 Alte L evels 12 . as it does not include Speaking or Writing. Grammar and Vocabulary. Its results must be considered with this reservation. This placement test measures Listening.

Placement Test Second Year s t n 20 e d u t 15 S f o r 10 e b m ú 5 N 21 13 5 1 0 1 2 3 2 4 0 5 0 Alte L evels Percentages 50% 12% 5% 0% 2% 31% 0 1 2 3 4 5 13 .

Placement Test Third Year s 12 o n 10 m u l 8 A e d 6 o r 4 e m ú 2 N 10 7 4 0 0 1 2 3 1 4 0 5 0 Alte Levels Percentages 32% 5% 0% 45% 0% 18% 0 1 2 3 4 5 14 .

Placement Test Fourth Year s o5 n m4 u l A e3 d o2 r e m1 ú N0 6 5 2 1 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 Alte Levels Percentages 0% 11% 11% 22% 0% 56% 0 1 2 3 4 5 15 .

I was aware of the source of bias mentioned by Nunan (1992) –i. were not well acquainted with the levels. 16 . What is your opinion about the linguistic and communicative level your students had at the beginning of the year you are teaching? (Please refer to the attached document about international levels and to each year separately. The dialogues with the interviewed teachers and students were surprisingly rich and thought provoking.) See chart below. I tried to minimise its effect by creating a friendly atmosphere in which the students could express their views freely. The principles of anonymity and confidentiality were stated before the interview and were respected. It proved to be very adequate. 2. During the interviews the teachers could see the chart in Appendix 1. The interviews took place at the end of the first semester.e. in general. i. the teachers could see the tabulated results of the QPT and contrast these with their perceptions. in July/August 2004. ALTE and European Union levels. What linguistic and communicative level do you think your students can reach at the end of this year? (Please refer to the attached document about international levels and to each year separately. These procedures proved to be very useful and necessary. During the interviews. The semi-structured interview questions were the following: 1. B . The interviewees were asked permission to be recorded.Semi-structured interviews .) 3. They represented a broad range of opinions. especially because of its flexibility and the degree of control the interviewees kept during the conversation.e. Are you in favour of the introduction of international standards? Why? Why not? This procedure was extraordinarily useful.The interpretation and suggestions derived from this data are presented in the conclusions. What information do you have about the effort that our School is making to introduce international standards? 4. which describes. the “asymmetrical relationship” between the participants—and therefore. as the teachers.I interviewed seven EFL teachers from the School. in general terms.

I also interviewed two focus groups of students The first group was made up of 4 students from the 1 st year of the English Teaching Course. “Your concern came rather parallel to the concern of the Ministry. where materials of Alte level 2 were being piloted. a) It is a government policy. aligned with Alte 3.. not only of Chile. The principles of confidentiality and anonymity. were stated and respected.” b) The Government of Chile is interested in raising the communicative competence standards in English both of teachers and students in the schools of the country. The interviews were held at the beginning of the second semester. VIII – CATEGORIES THAT EMERGED DURING INTERVIEWS WITH TEACHERS AND STUDENTS Category 1: Opinion about the introduction of international standards All the interviewed teachers agree with the idea of introducing international standards in the English Teaching Course for various reasons. and students are being tested as well. These interviews were recorded and transcribed. The second group was made up of 4 students from the 3 rd year of the English Teaching Course. in August 2004. “It is absolutely necessary to be assessed internationally because we are citizens of the world. The Ministry of Education is aware of the reality that English is being taught in Spanish in many schools. again. for teachers of English to be able to stay in the state owned or subsidised system. and we have to be tested whether we like it or not. They don’t speak English. they can read very little and they don’t produce. where materials of Alte level 3 were being piloted. (…) Teachers of English are not teaching in English.e. and Chile is part of an international community. they cannot communicate in the language…” 17 . That is why the Ministry of Education has set a minimum level of language competence. i.

could take to participate in this process more effectively: Some teachers feel the need to improve their language proficiency. Teachers with over 20 years of experience were unwilling. a process that is never finished. that’s something different. that is great. The teachers also suggested some measures we. in terms of knowledge (of the language). so that we can accomplish our goals in a better way.” (Adrian Underhill.. they didn’t matter about it. as a School. in terms of theories…” “The ones who were teaching for 5 years. We did not know what our level of English was when we left University…” e) International standards are prestigious. This measure will improve the Chilean educational system. as Adrian Underhill defines it: “Teacher Development is the process of becoming the best teacher you can be. It is not enough to learn English while at the University. “…that means they have to continue studying. to try new things…” d) Our students will attain higher language proficiency levels. We did not have anything like that in the past.c) The government has given a powerful signal to the English teachers. We can see that some teachers feel identified with the concept of teacher development. of course. (…) Teacher development is a continuous process of transforming human potential into human performance. continue developing. “I haven’t been assessed internationally. There you are afraid. and worrying about it. I would like that. “. 1997) 18 . you are willing to learn.” “It was something that had to be done. interested in pursuing a course…” I’m Another teacher. Professional development is a continuous necessity. going to seminars and speaking English. suggested we could have a meeting with an expert in international standards.. and I think for our students who are going to become English teachers.

Focus group 1 “You can study from this book on your own because the instructions are clear.” Focus group 2 “There isn’t a ‘grammar focus’. This is better because we are not only memorising things. on the other hand. They stress the fact that with these books the emphases are in the use of the language.” “I noticed the change in the vocabulary. acknowledge there has been a tremendous change.” 19 . they find them user-friendly and a good support for their learning. This is extremely beneficial. We are applying knowledge now. On the contrary. At the same time. But the change is too noticeable.” “The book helps us to get ready for the Exam on our own. indeed. Students.” “This is positive in the sense that it is a challenge and that way we feel encouraged. All the emphasis is on the use of language. it is about real life indeed. the everyday life. All the same. mainly.Teachers are not afraid of change. we know they are giving us the tools to be able to project ourselves internationally. they know innovation has a high cost in terms of the time they need to devote to implement it. they feel that change is an essential need. More phrasal verbs are used. we had to write only.” “At school. vocabulary expansion.” “Now everything is about the use of the language. Now even the teachers are teaching in a different way.” “The order is very clear and easy to understand and it is supplemented by the other subjects.” On the other hand. Grammar is replaced by use. Now we need to listen and do many things. Some of their opinions were quite positive: “…the system and methodology used to be different. the students hold a positive view about the course books “Objective PET” and “Objective FCE”. At the same time. but we are applying them (…) This will be very useful when we become teachers.

but at least they are finite and fairly easy to identify: there are only so many sounds. prepositional statements about the experiential world. but must also develop the ability to use language to get things done.” (Crystal 1995) David Nunan (2001) reinforces the importance of developing the ability to use language in a communicative way in the following terms: “…a basic principle underlying all communicative approaches is that learners must learn not only to make grammatically correct. at least the units (the lexemes.25 It is clear that the teachers’ and the students’ are faced with a much more complex and paramount task if they are to teach and learn the components of English as well as the actual use of it. (…) Now there is a kind of chain where the four components are linked.” (Focus Group 1) 20 .The shift from the emphasis in teaching usage to fostering the use of language has been acknowledged by students. The structural properties of the language are many and complex. p. in which the features of spoken or written language appear in an apparently unlimited number of combinations and variations. David Crystal highlights the difference between the study of use and usage in the following terms: “There is a major qualitative difference between studying the components of English structure (…) and studying the domains of English use. letters. The students have also perceived more connections among the different components of the language improvement subjects (Lengua Inglesa and Práctica de la Lengua Inglesa) as a result of the implementation of international levels: “The connection among the subjects was not so noticeable in the first semester.” P. None of this applies when we begin to investigate the way English is used: we are faced immediately with a bewildering array of situations. This adds complexity to the language learning process. (…) It was recognised that simply being able to create grammatically correct structures in language did not necessarily enable the learner to use the language to carry out various real-world tasks. and although there is a huge vocabulary. 118) are determinate and manageable. but is valued positively by the students as being “real” language. and grammatical constructions.

It may be that the teachers in their effort to keep up to the national demands and international standards have set objectives that are not realistic and are not taking into account the learners’ feelings. gradually. 333 21 . not losing the right track. they feel the need for challenge. Instead we should concentrate on revising what is weak. I do not think we will be ready. not just to prepare them for an exam. The students themselves suggest ways in which the pressure could have been lowered: “It is not necessary to say this is the FCE. Isn’t that too much? And when they tell us that we have to take it at the end of this year. the students expressed more and more criticism towards the issue of the international levels. (…) We feel too much pressure. They have mixed feelings about this project. (Focus Group 2) However. and you have to take it. but. We cannot forget that our first aim is to help our students to develop language competences and skills. What we study in Usage is the same as in Proficiency and English. on the other.” The students have felt the increase in the demands of language competence as a result of the introduction of international levels in the School. but everything related to FCE”. Jeremy Harmer’s suggestion suits this situation very well: “When we are preparing students for an exam. they have resented the pressure. “We are only getting ready to take the exam. during the interview. On one hand. this is the way it is done. We’d better enter a language school then…” “We even took a mock exam. we need to ignore the exam from time to time so that we have opportunities to work on general language issues.“Everything is more connected than before. 2004 p. and so that students can take part in the kind of motivating activities that are appropriate for all English lessons. and especially about the Alte level 3 (or FCE).” Harmer. applying our knowledge of the language.” Overemphasising exam skills could be counterproductive.

according to Harmer: “Just because students need to practise certain test types does not mean this has to be done in a boring or tense manner. Two teachers stated: “… we haven’t had a special meeting for talking about these levels. for exchanging our experiences. curriculum guidelines. The teachers and students recognise the need to introduce changes aligned with national and international requirements.” (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – CEF) Now that the School is engaged in introducing international standards. The first year students also received this same information. for studying more about them… I think we don’t have a monthly meeting in order to discuss about this. (…) It describes in a comprehensive way what language learners have to learn to do in order to use a language for communication and what knowledge and skills they have to develop so as to be able to act effectively.oc year about the international levels to be attained at each year of the Course. textbooks. Category 2: Information about International levels Almost all the teachers felt there was lack of information about this school project. examinations. based on language they have been working on and the examples they have seen so far. They received some written information in the first meeting of the acade. (…) Students can be encouraged to write their own test items.Creativeness and autonomy can be fostered and tension lowered in many ways. but there were not follow-up meetings to learn about the implementation of this project. we have a very interesting opportunity for starting or reinforcing teambuilding. etc. The challenge both for the teachers and the learners is huge and worth considering how to face it collectively. The new test items can now be given to other students to see how well they have been written and how difficult they are. Standards provide… “… a common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses. there is broad consensus for the implementation of international standards in our School.” 22 .” On the whole.

personal journals. know what is happening.“… I don’t feel well-informed (…) I’m not very familiar with all the things described here. team building and the like. I think it would be very interesting if all the teachers talked and shared all this that you are recording now because I think it would be interesting to hear the other teachers. Is this true?” “We thought that taking the test was obligatory. but they are also means (not just outcomes) for achieving deeper understanding.” Although the students showed interest. they were really confused with these sudden changes.” “What we know is that. Smallscale collaboration involves the attitude and capacity to form productive mentoring and peer relationships. Inquiry means internalising norms.” Inquiry “Reflective practices. I am confused.” Mastery “Mastery and competence are obviously necessary for effectiveness.” Collaboration “People need one another to learn and to accomplish things. in the near future the Ministry will demand the FCE as the minimum level to become an English Teacher.” Fullan 1993. “About these tests: what are they about? Where and when are they given? What are the benefits as teachers?” “If we are going to be English teachers. as they talk all the time about that. I didn’t know it was optional. habits and techniques for continuous learning. action research. we should talk about these topics.” Michael Fullan (1993) states four main capacities which are necessary to deal effectively with change: Personal vision-building “…When personal purpose is present in numbers it provides the power for deeper change. comment the news. pp 12-18 (headings added) - - - 23 . working in innovative mentoring and peer settings are some of the strategies currently available.

Category 3: Streaming students according to their linguistic level on entry At the beginning of the year. no abilities”. some teachers expressed their doubts. the students of First year were split according to their score in the Computer Adaptive Test.The School has a big advantage to implement change. This atmosphere helps a lot.” “If a student doesn’t get to level 1 at the end of the year. The teachers think. should be to level students and at the same time to encourage them and set realistic goals so that they do not get disappointed from the beginning of their teaching course.” It means “no interest. though. However. in terms of language.” (Referring to Section 2). So that helps a lot. they stated that the weaker students can benefit from an atmosphere where English is spoken more or less fluently by most of the students. There is consensus among the teachers about its necessity as well as contextual pressure. they shouldn’t stay in the course because that means no interest because you cannot start and finish at the same level. whereas the stronger ones were placed in Section 2. and not to kill them with this pressure of reaching the PET level (…) …they could panic and they don’t learn anything. it had not been able to make the School community feel part and own the innovations. According to some teachers we cannot put extreme pressure in first year students. “…levelling them. We can see that some teachers think that setting Alte level 2 as the goal for the first year students is not realistic. 24 . “Everybody speaks English. even if you want to borrow an eraser. that we should be very strict in this demand and not let students with a lower level get into the second year. The aim of the first year. getting them to be enthusiastic about what they are going to do because this is the way they are going to earn their living. given the fact that there is not any entrance test for them. The weaker students were placed in Section 1. Demanding at least Alte 1 level at the end of the first year would be fairer. As regards streaming first year students according to the results of the Computer Adaptive Test. In the first place.

but then it is a test situation and the students feel under pressure. was the argument that stated that there could be a discriminatory bias in splitting the students according to their language level. It is very interesting to see that they see class size as a factor that counteracts our School’s efforts to raise standards. Had we started all together. (Recent research into second-language acquisition in the classroom is beginning to question this conventional wisdom…). homogeneous in terms of student proficiency level. Big classes make it difficult to provide personalised attention and feedback to each student. “The split was good. we can say that the students’ perceptions about this decision are good. there is too much noise and the teacher does not have enough time to provide specific feedback to individual students.” “The teacher can provide individual feedback during oral interviews. “To be honest. Category 4: Class Size Different teachers expressed their concern about the big size of the classes in the 1st year.” It is clear from what has been said.” In general. I’ve never agreed with that. (…) It is not good for any of them because if you feel like ‘I am so bad that I’m in group 1’ you feel inferior. that we need to evaluate and re-consider the decision we made about splitting the First year students according to their language proficiency. However. 25 .” About the issue of grouping learners. doing pair work. Nunan (1988) states that: “It is assumed by teachers (and learners) that effective learning can only take place in classes that are relatively. Furthermore.Even stronger. the fact remains that teachers consistently nominate mixed proficiency groups as the most difficult to plan for adequately. it would have been a total disorder…” “As some knew more and some knew less. the communicative aims are less likely to be attained with big classes. “With more than 25 students in a speaking class. the teacher could devote more time and reinforce the ones who knew less.

Strengthening teacher quality also leads to higher student achievement. This issue was strongly raised by one of the teachers in the following terms: “… keeping the students in touch with their progress throughout the semester. However.” Most international reports maintain a consensual view in terms of the convenience of reducing class size for better students’ performance.(…) Paying attention to the way they are speaking.” Ivor Pritchard. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. There is more than one way to implement class size reduction. Special time in the teachers’ timetable should be allocated to give individual feedback about their progress (apart from the tests). 1999 26 . Depending on how it is done. “Reducing class size to below 20 students leads to higher student achievement. There should be more personalised attention to the students. Department of Education. the benefits of class size reduction will be larger or smaller. and its implementation can have a sizable impact on the availability of qualified teachers. Curriculum and Assessment. It is not about getting a mark.” “We cannot ask the students to reach more than Alte level 1 (basic level) at the end of the first year because we have large groups of 30 students or more. However. when you are working with a group of 33 students. this factor has to be accompanied with teacher qualification and classroom management skills to ensure effectiveness of the measure.S. in order to measure maybe their language improvement (…) is difficult. U. (…) it is hard to monitor and help them. too. class size reduction represents a considerable commitment of funds. it is about them knowing the way they improve. what they need to make further improvements.There is not a personalised attention required to develop communicative skills in speaking. especially for communicative goals. Reducing Class Size. So.” Individual feedback/tutorship was suggested.” “For me the size of the group is important. and more than one way to teach in a smaller class. What Do We Know? National Institute on Student Achievement.

The role of teachers in their classrooms is heavily influenced by the approach to teaching he/she believes in and practises. watching or listening to real 27 . There is a conformist attitude according to some teachers. Kessler 1992) constitutes an “attempt to redefine the roles of both teacher and learner through a methodology which relies less on teacher-directed teaching and more on cooperative group work and pair work activities. For example: “Active Teaching (…) focuses on the teacher’s ability to engage students productively on learning tasks during lessons… sees the management and monitoring of learning as a primary role for teachers. We could.” (Richards.” Cooperative Learning (Kagan 1987. studying at home every day. “the teacher has two main roles: the first is to facilitate the communication process between all participants in the classroom. and between these participants and the various activities and texts.Category 5: Teachers’ and Students’ Roles We should make an attempt to change the attitude the students have towards learning. like the ones described above and foster autonomous learning Referring to the second year. try different approaches to teaching and learning. The second role is to act as an independent participant within the learning-teaching group…” (Breen and Candlin 1980:99) If we perceive a conformist attitude in our students. systematically. You know what that means. Implies doing homework. 102) In Communicative Language Teaching. p. for example. The problem is that some of them are not working properly.” Personal tutorship was suggested as a way to encourage on-going learning. There is a repertoire of roles from which to draw if the teachers want to promote a change in attitude in the students. 1996. The teachers have a crucial role in motivating the students and invite to enjoy language learning and the idea of teaching it to other people in the future. a teacher stated: “It’s a very responsible group. going to selfaccess. attending classes regularly. They just want to pass. we have to explore ways in which we could promote and provoke change. “They see the course as a series of hoops they have to go through.

negotiated homework) . user-friendly classification systems . This is because language is too complex and varied for there to be enough time for students to learn all they need to in a classroom.The self-access centre. Positive task orientation Ego-involvement Need for achievement High aspirations 28 . 3.Training students to continue learning.” We should encourage the students to reflect about their learning and to develop an autonomous attitude. I think that they need to change their attitude. “However good a teacher may be. a good starting point. most of them related to motivation. newspapers. p. teacher’s letters) .g.Learner training (e.Students staying in touch with each other to share interesting web sites. And this is. etc. Penny Ur (2002) refers to a classic study on language learning (Naiman et al. self-reflective questionnaires. magazines.Staying in touch with the language (e. with appropriate guidance and appealing. with specific guidance to find what suits them best. pop songs. 4. .Personal plans based on the students’ individual needs .Keeping ‘learning journals’ (voluntary or directed journals.” (Harmer. definitely. self-analysis discussions) . 335) Harmer (2003) also suggests different ways in which teachers can promote autonomous learning: . (…) To compensate for the limits of classroom time an to counter the passivity that is an enemy of true learning. vocabulary notebooks. 2003. etc. She enumerates the following: 1.g. students will never learn a language –or anything else—unless they aim to learn outside as well as during class time. (…) Now. so that as far as possible they become autonomous learners.) . student driven homework.authentic language. Many of the teacher trainers are self-reflective and seek for their professional development too. but those who display a number of characteristics. 2. students need to develop their own learning strategies. teacher’s comments.Homework (e. films.g. 1978) and indicates that successful language learners are not necessarily those to whom language comes easily. English language TV or radio channels.

but the use of English. There was a group of students who scored very low in the Placement Test and who were not able to communicate in English at the beginning of the First year. it is subtler. but the marks are low and that is de-motivating. We wonder if. They have to be much more patient. not much to study because it is the use of the language. but in the near future. They cannot see their progress. to give the best of us…” “The aim (Alte 3) is achievable. we have to make our biggest efforts. But if we can study and cope with that. taking special measures to counteract it. why not?” “The idea is not to make basic grammar mistakes when we are teaching. Category 6: The “plateau” effect The Third year students have acknowledged the increase in the demands of the language improvement subjects and are feeling the “plateau effect” “We are stuck because I can’t learn any more. why not?” “The demands are higher. we will be fluent enough or we will maybe attain fluency by travelling to an English speaking country.” We can see that the Third year students are experiencing the plateau effect. Goal orientation 6. Such efforts may include setting goals clearly so that students have a clear learning target to aim at. both for the students and the teachers. Tolerance to ambiguity The interviewed teachers especially valued students’ perseverance. Progress is now less evident. However. 29 . What can the teachers do? Harmer (2004) suggests: “Teachers need to be sensitive to the plateau effect.5. it is more difficult. (…) We are not talking about rules. They are demanding much more from us. In that sense. Perseverance 7. “ “There isn’t much to memorise. they were not discouraged and invested their best efforts in learning. We can see that the results for most of them are rewarding. some day. maybe not this year.

expressed their concern about the delay in getting the methodology training. “ The third year students. the prospective teachers should know what it is like to be a teacher. and sparking the students’ interest in the more subtle distinctions of language use. “I think students should be able to visit schools and maybe in the future start to teach one class a week. They declared: “We came here to be teachers. It is okay to get ready for the exam. but the ELT 30 .explaining what still needs to be done. even from the first year. 1995. 45) For the above to happen the teachers need to develop their own language competence and their language awareness.” “I think all the story about the FCE is excessive. You sometimes have the feeling that we get lost in the way. making sure that activities are especially engaging. Category 7: Quality of Initial Teacher Training According to Teacher 2. on the other hand. but we cannot forget that we are here to become teachers. In the classroom the only views of language that really matter are the ones that teachers and learners have built up in their own heads. That is our priority. p.” (p. iv) It is clear from the evidences presented above that teaching English to develop competencies aligned to international standards is complex and needs to be supported by teacher development/training measures for the teacher educators. teachers will be able to share this with their learners and help them to face the challenge of thinking about language and progressing to be increasingly self-reliant. but in English there is nothing like that. This group of students has studied with the old Course syllabus in which the EFL methodology subjects are placed in the 4 th and 5th years. I think students should know what it is like to be a teacher from the very beginning. They have had general pedagogy subjects taught in Spanish. but then we come back…” This concern is very valid. that is what they do in the Spanish subjects. “Once they have discovered and acknowledged the diversity and complexity of language.” (Bolitho & Tomlinson. (…) They should teach us to teach English.

The new Course Plan has incorporated progressive teaching practice from the second year.” “Just as teachers must have high expectations of their pupils.) The Chilean researcher. which is not at all convenient in terms of shaping the pedagogical identity. the growth of this identity and vocation can be enhanced if the students develop social sensitivity and the capacity to search for development opportunities. “… teaching involves more than care. Beatrice Avalos (2002) identifies the construction of the pedagogical identity as one of the main aspects in the process of learning to become a teacher. there is a programme of “helpers” who go to schools and start getting acquainted with the educational reality. practice and creativity. However. Teaching is a creative. For all these students. so pupils. intellectually demanding and rewarding job. The remedial measures the School has taken have not been enough. As one teacher puts it: 31 .” Teacher Training Agency. mutual respect and wellplaced optimism. She holds that most young people in their initial teacher training have a weak vocation to become teachers. The teaching practice will take place in the second semester of the Fifth year. It demands knowledge and practical skills. and to balance pressures and challenges. This weakness has been a concern for the School teachers. as well as an understanding of how children learn and develop. the home and the local community. parents and carers are entitled to have high expectations of teachers.methodology subjects have been delayed. The students perceive the complexities involved in becoming a teacher. United Kingdom (The underlining is ours. It is the teacher training institutions’ responsibility to support the personal development of the future teachers and the gradual development of their identity as teachers. It recognises the important part other people play in pupils' learning: in the classroom. the students who are now in their third and fourth year will continue their studies without this important element included in their syllabuses. so the standards for joining the profession must be high too. the ability to make informed judgements. The School is aware of this problem and has taken remedial measures to make up for the lack of early contact with schools. interest and effort. However.

They go to the lab and make lists of words and expressions according to the different topics.“I think the quality of our students is fundamental because. 7. 3. 5. 4. the employers want quality. 8. 2. Some think that grammar and lexis have to be put together. These can be tested at any time. Systematic and identifiable processes exist for determining educational needs in the school and placing them in order of priority. is absolutely essential to develop language proficiency. There is a high degree of staff involvement in developing goals and making decisions 6. Administrators are concerned with the teachers’ professional development and are able to make the best use of their skills and experience. In terms of being a profitable university. Category 8: Teaching lexis Some teachers express their concern for the teaching of lexis. Teachers see a necessity to expose the students to different kinds of words. The government is urged to improve the quality of English language teachers and if our students do not reach the top quality to which the government is engaged. and patterns. 32 . balanced.” Nunan (1988). There are clearly stated educational goals. There is commitment to learning. There is a well planned. There is a motivated and cohesive teaching force with good team spirit. expressions. we need to increase the quality. and an expectation that students will do well. at the end of the day.mentions the following indicators of the quality of a school or educational institution: “1. and organized program that meets the needs of its students. The school’s programs are regularly reviewed and progress toward their goals is evaluated.” The School needs to contrast its present practices to these indicators and establish its strengths and weaknesses. then employers will prefer to hire students from other universities. which together with grammar.

“Some of them don’t use the vocabulary. (2004) There are interesting efforts in the School to emphasise vocabulary teaching. the students get acquainted with the fact that there are 2000 top frequency words which are considered the minimum survival kit the student needs to be able to understand 80% of any written text. He stated the following: “Current thinking. In First year. and there are some teachers of the School that have become more aware of its key role for language learning. and therefore the fact that vocabulary is largely phrasal. 33 . As Jack Richards states: “Vocabulary and lexical units are at the heart of learning and communication. No amount of grammatical or other type of linguistic knowledge can be employed in communication or discourse without the mediation of vocabulary (…) Understanding of the nature and significance of vocabulary knowledge in the second language therefore needs to play a much more central role in the knowledge base of language teachers. (Teacher 4) Alan Maley used the word lexico-grammar.. has emphasized the importance of collocation. for example. Lexico-grammar –the zone where syntax and lexis cooperate to forge meaning—has become a key consideration in the way vocabulary is taught. the students keep a “Vocabulary notebook” where they register the new vocabulary learned and examples of its use.” (Richards 2000) Category 9: Building up team work There were different strong teachers’ voices stating the need to develop teamwork and for various reasons. In the Reading and Writing classes included in the subject of “Práctica de la Lengua Inglesa I and II”. A. Vocabulary has been gaining importance in the teaching of English. They don’t understand that they have to put everything together to have good English. based in large part on the analysis of computer corpora.” Maley. acknowledging the fact that lexis and grammar work together and not separately. Words band together in typical clusters rather than exist in splendid isolation.

teachers feel it is absolutely necessary to meet with the teachers who are in charge of the different parts of the same subject. Maybe you are not doing something correctly and the other person is going to share his ideas with you.f) We should share ideas.” (Teacher 3) “We need to meet regularly. but they are able to use that in another part. If I don’t have things clear. We cannot work in an isolated way. We need to know what the other colleagues teaching English are doing. The teaching of the different skills should be integrated. part of our policy. so we need to find time to organise it and co-ordinate… One of the components of the subject is like a mystery to me…” (Teacher 4) h) Meeting time should be part of our timetable. Referring to the English subjects related to language improvement and skills Development (Lengua Inglesa and Práctica de la Lengua Inglesa). Thinking in an isolated way doesn’t work. I ask for help. (…) (Teacher 3) “It is a subject that is divided into three. It should be like that. Short regular meetings should be an established practice in our School.” (Teacher 1) Some teachers see this way of working as a weakness. The subject of “Lengua Inglesa” is divided in three parts. but there is a big problem: lack of communication. Teachers of the same subject (Lengua Inglesa) communicate by e-mail. they feel they would like to see their colleagues. for example (…) They listen to that. normally taught by three different teachers. Everybody teaches inside his small circle and this is not the point. reading or writing components. “What is the use of me asking the students to learn about first aids? The idea would be that they use that in the speaking. I don’t feel we are going to get anywhere. however. (…) I have the feeling that everybody is doing a very good job. otherwise these things don’t work. It is team work. 34 . “If we continue working in this isolated way.” (Teacher 1) g) There should be much more connection among the English language subjects. “That’s the way things have to be. materials and help each other.

It could be just 45 minutes. Honestly. to modify their programmes. you work with faces… Because for communication to take place you also need to see people. It is important to have the time fixed in the timetable. international standards: 35 . Some teachers meet in pairs to contrast the calendar programme to what they are actually doing. to supplement the units with audio-visual material they come up with. “Maybe with a simple meeting and you say: Anything new? What are we doing? Where are you? I am doing this.” (Teacher 3) The need for co-ordination in this process of change is essential.” “…there are some moments when you have to see the people. “If the school is interested in introducing international standards. you need to see reactions. I have only had one meeting to co-ordinate in all the semester. I think it would be quite advisable to start working together.” (Teacher 1) d) Working in a coordinated way is a must if we want to introduce international standards in our School.“I haven’t been called for a meeting at the beginning of this semester. We have to get together. I think it is quite important because then we could talk about cases. Something very brief. Demanding everyone to spare some time to co-ordinate…At least once every 2 or 3 weeks. but we are in contact.” (Teacher 5) There are informal co-ordinations among some teachers. but this is a practice that comes out of their personal initiative and not part of the institutional culture of our School. difficult people and the way to try to sort problems out…” “So it would be quite advisable to become more demanding. As the CEF points out.” (Teacher 1) “It has to do with co-ordination. Some feel it is absolutely necessary to work in a coordinated way and to have an instance where they could share their successes and failures. I found this material.

Council of Europe. In a caring and supportive environment. teacher trainers. January 2003 Head and Taylor (1997) state three reasons why groups are more effective than individuals in managing change: “Firstly. and to make it their business to get the best they can for themselves. “Positive interdependence is critical to the success of the cooperative group. a group of people who meet together regularly and are free to decide their own agenda tend to develop strong interpersonal bonds which can support an individual member in any decision that they might be making about their own development. to reflect on their current practice. One of the principles of cooperative learning can be applicable to working cooperatively in an organisation towards improvement and change.“…provide the means for educational administrators.. p. people do well to combine their efforts in managing the change process. course designers..97 36 . with a view to situating and coordinating their efforts and to ensuring that they meet the real needs of the learners for whom they are responsible. other people’s views are a primary resource for enabling individuals to increase their self-awareness. teachers. Positive interdependence is a crucial element to bring efforts together and maximise the effectiveness of a group’s initiatives. Secondly.” A Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. synergy is released.” p..(.” California Department of Education. (…) Thirdly. a group of people with similar ideas and objectives can exert a powerful collective influence on the culture of institutions. examining bodies.) When cooperation is successful. and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. learning from other people how they see you as a colleague and teacher can also be an important way of building up self-esteem and feeling positive about the possibilities for development. In the context of organizational change. 1 The teachers feel the need to overcome communication barriers and set a common ground when we speak about levels of language proficiency. etc.

there is a total of 63% of students who started at the pre-intermediate level or below. and considering that it measures the receptive skills of Reading and Listening. as some teachers have suggested. - - - Considering these results and the teachers’ and students’ opinions. then there is a total of 67% of students who started at the preintermediate level or below. I suggest the following scheme as the minimum targets for each course during the present academic . In the Second year. Students 1 year 2nd year 3rd year 4th year st “Receptive” Skills (Listening & Reading) Alte 2 Alte 2 Alte 3 Alte 3 “Productive” Skills (Speaking & Writing) Alte 1 Alte 2 Alte 2 Alte 3 However. In the Third year. Another possibility is to introduce an entrance test. In the Fourth year. the largest group (45%) started at Alte level 2. According to the Computer Adaptive Test results. preintermediate. If we add to this the percentage of 11% of students who started at Alte level 1.VIII – CONCLUSIONS 1. the School has to acknowledge the present reality and provide special support to the students who enter 1 st year with an Alte level 0 or below. the largest group (50%) started at Alte level 2. 37 . we can say the following: - In the First year. so that students with Alte level 0 would need to improve their level before starting the English Teaching Course. If we add to this group the 18% who started at Alte level 1. preintermediate. Setting Alte Level 1 for the First year students. the largest group (56%) started at Alte level 2. a significant group of students (41%) started at Alte breakthrough level (level 0 in the chart). would mean very little challenge for 59% of the students. together with Grammar and Vocabulary. which added to the students who started at Alte level 1 (31%) give a total of 81% students who started at the pre-intermediate level (receptive skills) or below.

4. 38 . But.. If we want to develop self-reflective professionals (as some of the teachers suggested in the interviews). too. learning journals. the teachers. etc. the common thread promoted along the course should be the development of self-reflective attitudes and habits. 3. The initial teacher training subjects (Prácticas Iniciales Progresivas 1 to 5) should aim to bridge the gap between the university and school realities and to equip the students with the necessary tools to face the present challenges of the English teaching profession. This counteracts the efforts and commitment of the School to implement a communicative approach. evaluate its effects and make the corresponding wellfounded proposals to the University administrators. using different tools such as “reflection cards”. Concerted efforts should be made to introduce reflective teaching and learning as well as early meaningful contact with schools. We need to discuss this issue. which is applicable much more effectively in 15 to 20 students’ classrooms. We need to make concerted efforts to encourage our students to reflect about what they learn and how they learn. there was an increase in the class size in the First year classrooms. This is a pending task on the part of the School of English Teaching. Raising the quality of the training of teachers at USS Teacher Training School is an issue that has been raised in different ways by the interviewees. about reflection and self-reflection. and if it is worth devoting time and effort to these endeavours. We can only develop self-reflective practitioners if WE are self-reflective educators. we had sections of 30 or more students in language classes.It is clear also. One of the main ones is that the prospective teachers should be trained to be EFL teachers from the very beginning of their course. During the academic year 2004. We have to involve all the students and teachers in the innovations and the first step is to inform the community thoroughly about the School’s and about the Ministry of Education plans. The students who do not progress during the year should not continue passing the English courses. that the School has to raise its linguistic and communicative standards. The ways suggested to accomplish this aim are varied. Quality must be ensured and for this to happen. we. This is a governmental concern. For the first time. Ownership of change should be developed among the members of the School community. 2. our teaching methodologies and assessment procedures should be improved. need to discuss our own beliefs about teaching and learning. most important. portfolios.

we need to continue monitoring this situation. This action research project has also contributed to standardise the terminology we use to describe the communicative and linguistic aims of language use at the different stages of the English teaching course. in the future. It is expected that. To get a thorough view about this sensitive matter. We need to evaluate the decision made about splitting the First year students according to their language proficiency. 4 EFL teachers from the School attended this course regularly. language improvement courses could be part of the regular training for teacher educators of the School. in order to support this project and in response to some of the teachers’ enquiry. the teachers and students of the English teaching course have gradually 39 . From being objects of study.5. However. However. Action research has proved to be an empowering instrument. This course started in August 2004 and was given by a British EFL teacher using the course book “Objective Proficiency” by Annette Capel and Wendy Sharp. I can say that it has meant gapping the bridge between teaching and research for me. it is convenient to know what the level of the teacher educators is and take measures to improve it. Reflecting about the action research process as a whole. Teaching to develop competencies aligned to international standards is a challenge that most of the teacher educators have faced with their personal resources. It gradually became a useful tool that has contributed to get a deeper insight into what is going on in our English teaching course. 6. Some teachers are aware of the need to continue improving themselves and expressed the wish to take a language development course. More than 80% of them agreed with the measure and stated that it had been beneficial for their learning. I gave a questionnaire to all the First year students at the end of the academic year 2004 and asked about how they lived this process. In 2004. If we are implementing international levels. which has implied a great variety of interactive exchanges. This is logical. This has meant a change of habits: I had to develop a stronger willingness to understand and to refrain from judging from appearances and making swift generalisations. It has been a collaborative activity. I have learned to listen actively and sharpen my awareness to become more alert and open to the different “voices” of the different classrooms. the Direction found the financial support and started a language improvement course for the School teachers.

become subjects and owners of the enquiry process. My hopes are that. different points of view and again with more questions about the future: How can we raise the linguistic and communicative standards of the students? How can we generate a more participative culture inside the School? How can we make all the members of the teaching and learning community feel involved in the process of change? How can we better equip the future teachers with the language and pedagogic tools necessary to meet the challenge of actually developing communicative skills in English in their classrooms? I have become aware of the areas of development the School has to face urgently if it wishes to become a prestigious institution that trains EFL teachers equipped with the tools to face the challenges of our profession. I hope. Anyway. These teachers are fully aware of the ethical responsibility underlying this enterprise. They will have their suggestions about what it might be most interesting to do next and to that extent you lose control. As Somekh (1996) states with enthusiasm: “As colleagues become more involved and move from being participants and informants towards being researchers.” (p. You get much more powerful opportunities for change but a loss of control over the direction of the change—which I find very exhilarating and a very interesting way of working. and. Knowing this also implies a responsibility to spread the word convincingly among colleagues and administrators. A good diagnosis is just a starting point.6) I come from this experience with many ideas. the need for change and improvement will become essential for everybody. I am hopeful because the action research experience has made it clear that there are teachers who know what the weaknesses of this young School are and who are open and enthusiastic about change. The challenge now is to disseminate the results of all these exchanges and conversations and engage our learning and teaching community in the process of change. it is an absolutely necessary step towards professional and institutional growth and improvement. as the participants get more and more involved. Anyway. they will begin to make an input into the analysis and interpretation of the data you have collected. January 2006 40 . and also recognize the need to be up to the demands of the dynamic realities of our country and of an everchanging world. agents of future change.

(2001) Curriculum Development in Language Teaching. A study in second language teaching. D. J. Action Research for Educational Change. (1992). M. Practice and theory. ELT Management. (2002). (1993) . The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.X .. Teaching.gov/iasa/cooplrng2.uk/php/read. D. Change Forces. Introduction to Vocabulary.cde. R. Oxford University Press Richards. J. produced in collaboration with the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (formerly UCLES). Heinemann Labarca. R. Number 22. The Practice of English Language Teaching. (2002). CUP Richards. United Kingdom http://www. A Course in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The Learner-Centred Curriculum. & Taylor. K. Cómo Planificar la Investigación-Acción . (2003).php?sectionid=160&articleid=1051 Teacher Training Agency. Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación. Preface by Adrian Underhill. 2nd ed. J. (1991). B. B. Assessment Crystal. Heinemann Council of Europe (2001). (2004). Schmitt. How to Teach English. (1993) Research Methods in Language Learning. London: The Falmer Press Harmer. A. (2004). Perú Bolitho. B. IATEFL SIG Newsletter.Bibliography Avalos. K & Mc Taggart. (1995). Vocabulary in Language Teaching. in N. Alexis (2001). P. Nov. CUP Nunan. Readings in Teacher Development.html 41 . Chile Maley. (1996) Beyond common sense: action research and the learning organisation. (1995).tta. Oxford University Press Nunan. D. J. Lima. Cambridge University Press Linkography http://www. Longman Harmer. M. Learning. Simposio Internacional ‘Perspectivas de Formación Docente’. J... (2000). Cambridge University Press Elliot. Penny.gov. CUP Quick Placement Test (2002). Laertes Somekh. (1988). Discover English. 1996 Ur. & Tomlinson. series editor’s preface.ca. CUP Stephen. Métodos de Investigación en Educación. A Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. (1997). Longman Head. “Un proyecto para mejorar la formación inicial de docentes en Chile: el Programa de fortalecimiento de la formación inicial docente”. Morgan and Rinvolucri.) OUP Fullan.

January 2003 42 .California Department of Education.

Can express him/herself spontaneously. Can produce clear. reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need. well-structured. 2010 Proficient User C2 Alte 5 C1 4 Independent User B2 3 B1 2 Basic User A2 1 A1 0 Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources. Can describe experiences and events.g. and recognise implicit meaning . dreams. differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.eu/Documents/ServicesAdmin/LanguageCentre/CEF. detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options. hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. longer texts. showing controlled use of organisational patterns. including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social. leisure. connectors and cohesive devices. Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives. Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics. assessment). etc. Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. employment). school. 43 .eui.Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.Appendix 1 Common Reference Levels: Global Scale (Extracted from the Common European Framework for Languages: learning. Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e. Council of Europe) http://www. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can understand a wide range of demanding. shopping.pdf 21 June. academic and professional purposes. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. local geography. Can produce clear. Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work. very basic personal and family information. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. teaching. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help. very fluently and precisely. people he/she knows and things he/she has. detailed text on complex subjects.

CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English) A very advanced level exam .Appendix 2 – Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) exams These exams are linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.if you can communicate with confidence in English for work or study purposes. CAE (Certificate in Advanced English) An advanced exam . published by the Council of Europe. PET (Preliminary English Test) An intermediate level exam. testing your ability to cope with everyday written and spoken communications.cambridgeesol.perfect if you have achieved a high level of language skills and are able to function effectively in almost any English-speaking context.ideal if you can deal confidently with a range of written and spoken communications. testing your ability to deal with basic written and spoken communications. 2005 44 .org/exams/general-english/index. this is the exam for you. The equivalents in the Council of Europe Scale are the following: Main Suite Cambridge Proficiency Examination Cambridge Advanced Examination First Certificate Examination Preliminary English Test Key English Test Council of Europe C2 Mastery C1 Effective Operational Proficiency B2 Vantage B1 Threshold A1 Breakthrough This information was extracted from University of Cambridge ESOL website: http://www. FCE (First Certificate in English) An upper intermediate level exam .html 21 June. General English KET (Key English Test) An elementary level exam.

doesn’t affect message clarity. if present. stalling devises and different rates of speech to cope with communication gaps. showing controlled use of organizational patterns. ABLE to give a coherent talk on a topic new to the speaker and shows the ability to connect discourse in particular when narrating and. In general is understood even by those unaccustomed to non-native speakers although L1 interference is evident and communication gaps do occur. CAN deal with a variety of uncomplicated communication tasks and social situations. 2ND YEAR Intermediate (Pre-FCE) Alte 2/3 CAN read articles and reports concerned with contemporary problems in which the writers adopt particular attitudes or viewpoints CAN understand the description of events. CAN understand contemporary literary prose. The only hesitations are the result of the consideration of the appropriateness of expressions. maintain and close a conversation on a fairly wide range of topics with ease and confidence Generally effective command of TL in most uncomplicated communication tasks and in a range of situations although errors are evident e. CAN initiate. Is able to follow a talk on a familiar topic with little difficulty and understand the gist of recordings of unfamiliar but non-technical subjects. Has ability to combine and recombine known elements of TL but only in a reactive way. characters and settings. present and future with lengthy connected discourse which is linked smoothly. Uses pause fillers.Appendix 3 – Standards of General Language Competence: English Teaching School. even when they do not relate to the field of Education and English teaching. Can ask and answer questions. Makes long pauses and hesitations but generally understood by native speaker familiar with students of this level although L1 interference impinges on pronunciation and structures of the language produced. CAN write short narrative texts with awareness of elements such as plot. CAN construct fairly long utterances but only able to use complex language in well rehearsed discourse. Can participate effectively in discussions and deal with complicated tasks and social situations with confidence. Extensive vocabulary. offer advice within a known area and participate in short conversations and discussions although has difficulty linking ideas. detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and independent disadvantages of various options.g inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. 3RD YEAR Upper Intermediate (Equivalent to FCE) B2 Alte 3 Can produce clear. reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation Can produce clear. Universidad San Sebastián Levels Listening/Speaking Good command of TL in a wide range of situations. utilising diverse language strategies. 45 .or describing. cultural matters. appreciating distinctions of style. Converses with ease. . Understood without difficulty by all native speakers. CAN understand specialized articles and longer technical instructions. express opinions on abstract. Limits on vocabulary causes some hesitation but language flow maintained most of the time. detailed text on complex subjects. wellstructured. CAN narrate and describe in past. feelings and wishes in personal letters and articles in newspapers and magazines CAN write a variety of persuasive and argumentative texts adopting a particular point of view. L1 structures recede and L1 accent.g. e. connectors and cohesive devices 4TH YEAR Advanced (Equivalent to CAE) C1 Alte 4 CAN understand long and complex factual and literary texts. **MARCELO (LITERATURE) Reading Writing Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources.

menus and timetables CAN understand short simple personal letters and short authentic narrative and descriptive texts. CAN read short. 2003 46 . understand basic instructions and public announcements and initiate and respond to simple statements. Concepción. CAN give simple opinions and make short contributions in group discussions. texts related to varied topics. scanning. using reading comprehension strategies like: prediction. punctuation and spelling. CAN write letters about familiar or predictable matters accurately. CAN find specific. prospectuses. giving special attention to formal aspects such as the layout. L1 interference causes occasional difficulty in understanding for a native speaker familiar with students of this level.1ST YEAR Elementary to Pre-Intermediate (Equivalent to PET) B1 Alte 2 Limited but effective command of TL in predictable topics and familiar everyday social situations. October 11th. Range of language although limited allows the student to participate in and maintain a conversation albeit in a restricted manner with some linguistic inaccuracy. CAN understand texts that consist mainly of high frequency everyday or job-related language. Within those limits can ask and answer questions. identification of main ideas and patterns of organisation. CAN write short texts related to varied topics of everyday life with awareness of the mechanics of the organization of ideas and moving towards developing text coherence. predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements.

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