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Teaching English in Chile

A Study of Teacher Perceptions of their Professional Identity, Student Motivation and Pertinent Learning Contents

Series:

Katharina Glas

This book examines the relationship between learner motivation and cultural contents for the teaching of English as a Foreign Language. It takes Chile as an example of the «Expanding Circle of English», where the 21 st century has brought new challenges to English teaching. After providing background information on the presence of English in Latin America and Chile, this qualitative study includes the analysis of curricular frameworks, textbooks and teacher interviews. Conclusions propose an explicit, yet critical inclusion of both motivational strategies and cultural themes into educational and curricular policies, learning materials, and teacher training.

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1. Introduction

Extract

When I started teaching English in Further and Higher Education in Chile in 2005, I began to become aware of the nature of the particular challenges of be- ing an English teacher here. My new students brought to class several years of English learning at school, but very little actual previous knowledge of the lan- guage, and it was not long before I identified, at least within my own teaching situation, two problematic areas. First I realised that there was an enormous difference in motivation for learning English between students in the European context (which is my person- al experience) and those in the Chilean context. In Europe, having foreign lan- guage skills, often in more than one language, is becoming the norm, yet in the Chilean context, many of my students did not seem to perceive English to be a priority. Many were very reluctant to prepare for tests, do their homework, or to participate actively in class. My first idea, preliminarily confirmed in a few in- formal conversations, was that it was an attitude problem at the level of context, the society as a whole: English still seems to be considered “the (second) lan- guage of the posh, upper-class” (“los cuicos”) by many; English-speaking coun- tries are far away; all neighbouring countries are Spanish-speaking, too; and many young people have few or no opportunities to travel any further than Bra- zil – where tourists get by with Spanish, anyway. Second, teaching within the constraints of a set coursebook, I...

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