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In Foreign Language Policies, Research, and Educational Possibilities: A Western Perspective

Patricia A. Duff begins her article explaining than APEC member countries understand the
importance of English as a language for communication in the different fields more than we do in
North America.
Duff presents an overview about the History of ELT, and even, some traditional methods were
used hundred years ago, they are still applied in many classrooms. According to Duff, the
development in ELT seems to be slow; nonetheless, promising changes are expected as: the
inclusion of technology, project, content, and task based learning among others. The changes in
the future have to do with the political and economic adjustments governments implement; for
instance, the decisions made in educational policies. Some countries invest more money in
bilingualism while others do not.
Teachers training is important for changes and developments in Language proficiency; programs
to prepare teachers are more rigorous in Europe than in North America, by working abroad, and
by participating in internships, FL teachers develop proficiency and self- confidence.
Age is an important issue in FL; in many countries, governments due to social pressures
announce policies to include FL with child. It has been recommended that language should be the
central core of curriculums as math and other subjects are. Unfortunately, there is not a clear
articulated teaching across kindergarten through post-secondary curriculum.
In many EFL curriculum designs from different countries, the importance of oral interaction is
often recognized as well as the use of content related to different areas engaging students in
creative works. Also the use of project-based tasks emphasizes content of different topics and
gives the opportunity of integrating language learning; textbooks designed for content-based
instruction offer wider educational contexts to be discussed.
It is quite common that the policies taken do not correspond to the appropriate assessment, for
instance, in some countries the necessity of oral interaction is often measured through written
exams by reflecting traditional methods. This negative mismatch or backwash undermines the
efforts for educational reforms. In some countries like Canada, the United States and England
there is a problem of articulation between FL in elementary, secondary and post-secondary

school. In Asian countries communicative language teaching has been introduced in elementary
levels; nevertheless, they revert to very traditional methods such as grammar based tasks.
Technology and distance learning in the past were traditional and expensive; now a computer can
connect students with speakers from different parts of the world and provide access to authentic
materials by motivating students to learn. Technology is considered for TESOL International as
one of the most important priorities. Doughty and Long as (cited in Duff 2014) provide rich input
to produce language (output): Pragmatic aspects are ignored in EFL education (politeness, speech
acts, making requests, complaints, apologies, etc.).
Immersion programs which have been implemented in countries like Canada have proved
efficacy by producing graduates with more proficiency in FL than regular programs, but these
conditions are reached when teachers are well trained and are able to go beyond FL syllabi.
The use of the first language has been advised as not helpful when constructing in curriculum
design of FL programs. FL relevant activities are encouraged to be carried out to make learners
perceptions of the language they are learning meaningful and transcendent.
Research is undoubtedly important in FL, through research is possible to determine what is
functioning or what needs to be analyzed.
Finally, Duff discusses that it would be worthless to concede importance to only one method,
since not all the methods fit in all the cultures; Policy and curriculum designed must be decided
and analyzed according to the local needs and educational realities. It is important to recognize
that languages are quite important in contemporary societies and that they offer people more
horizons and opportunities.
After discussing the article with my colleagues, they expressed that as Duff points out extreme
swings are not productive at all, language should be taught in all areas and not only on certain
skills; talking about innovations, they agree with the necessity of implementing task-based and
content based learning activities,

and that inmersion programs would benefit students by

providing them abilities to use the language, they consider that the downside of this is that when
only some schools focus on certain levels and in higher grades, students are focused on grammar,
they go back to a mother language environment.

Concerning careful placement testing, they consider it imperative for the proper learners
development.
Native and non-native teachers should be involved in teaching and they should acquire all the
necessary skills for developing on students true competencies in all aspects. Technology and
innovation for some teachers are important; however, there are some teachers that consider
technology as potential a distractor, they are aware about the importance of technology and the
revolution has caused, but they prefer to follow the traditional methods. We talked about age, in
our country, it is intended to implement English in all primary schools; however, we have known
that in some states, the SEP does not want to hire English teachers,
My colleagues expressed also that it i
One of the teachers agreed with the idea of setting clear objectives and to take the European
Common Framework as a reference to evaluate learners performance. She believes that there is
shortage of capable teachers in Mexico, more specifically, in our state Michoacn, teachers are
not interested in Education, we are in the last place of the country and our students have
difficulties to use their first language properly, therefore, results difficult to teach them a FL.
My colleagues think that the cons of attempting to apply the changes suggested by Duff are that
many adults have a negative attitude towards a foreign language, and this attitude is transmitted
to young students. Besides, it is not a priority in our country to invest in a FL. Only one teacher
and I agree that teachers must be well trained and that there should be more interaction among
students as well as more opportunities for them to use the language. The most participative of the
teachers who read the article believes that even we focus on a communicative approach; we
cannot leave aside the other skills.
In many universities, the desired level for undergraduates is B2, so students are not demanded to
have more than a B2 level.
In the past, English was seen as a medium for going to the United States to work.
Through planning we can set clear objectives to focus on.