#Edcamp Santiago: The “Open English” Phenomenon (Fluency Guaranteed)

Apple and books on teacher's desk - not with Open English! (Credit: Google images)

It is perhaps the most well-known fact about teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) that many students often graduate from high school without the ability to speak English fluently, despite having studied the language from 8 to 12 years.

For example, in Chile, a national test of English (reading and listening) was applied to all students in the 11th grade, from October 25 to November 5th, 2010.

Only 11% reached the level considered as “Basic”.

Clearly, fluency in spoken English is out of the question, taking into consideration these results.

Fluency Guaranteed

How many teachers of English as a Foreign Language would even consider something like that? A guarantee of fluency to an adult learner of English as a foreign language, in Chile? Few, very few.

However, we need to look at this from a business perspective. There are many competitors in the ELT market, so you need a Unique Selling Point (USP). If you can deliver on a promise of fluency (for every learner), you will have many people who want to learn English with you. That’s a powerful incentive.

So, it’s intriguing. Can you do it? Guarantee fluency?

Many people are willing to pay lots of money to study with you if you can guarantee fluency. Wait a minute. Why fluency?

“Adults”, is the answer. Adults measure language learning success by their ability to speak the language, fluently.

In general, all they want to do is to be able to use the language in a general context, for a job interview, to answer the phone at work, and for pleasure in their free time, for travel and on vacation. That’s about it.

Success will bring profit, so, let’s turn our attention to the “How”?

How would you do it? The traditional language learning classroom comes to mind. Blended learning, with both on-line learning and traditional classes, is another. Or why not totally on line?

Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s leave that analysis for another day. We want to look at one case study of actual practice, the “Open English” phenomenon. I call it a phenomenon because they (Open English) actually advertise to potential students that “fluency is guaranteed”. Let’s take a look:

Nicolette Moreno shares the Open English vision with us:

Open English - Teacher Welcome from OpenEnglish.com on Vimeo.

Andres Moreno on CNN espanol with English subtitles talking about why Open English has been successful in Latin America.

Open English on CNN with English Subtitles from OpenEnglish.com on Vimeo.

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Coordinator of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile. He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago 2012 & Edcamp Chile 2013, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago. Edcamp Chile 2013 was held at Universidad UCINF. Thomas is also a member of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile. Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of sixty one (61) books, all available on Amazon http://amzn.to/Qxmoec . The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.
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