Bilingual in Chile: An Impossible Dream? Bilingual in Chile: An Impossible Dream? [Kindle Edition]
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
“We have some of the most advanced commercial accords in the world, but that is not enough,” Sergio Bitar, the minister of education, said in an interview here.
“We know our lives are linked more than ever to an international presence, and if you can’t speak English, you can’t sell and you can’t learn.” The initial phase of the 18-month-old program, officially known as “English Opens Doors,” calls for all Chilean elementary and high school students to be able to pass a standardized listening and reading test a decade from now.
But the more ambitious long-term goal is to make all 15 million of Chile’s people fluent in English within a generation. “It took the Swedes 40 years” to get to that point, said Mr. Bitar, adding that he sees the Nordic countries and Southeast Asian nations like Malaysia as models for Chile.
“It’s going to take us decades too, but we’re on the right track.” Though the main focus of the program is young students, the government has also sought to reach adults by encouraging businesses to offer English courses to employees. As part of the program, tax credits are to be offered to companies, and Rodrigo Fabrega, director of the effort, talks of “flooding the country with English-Spanish dictionaries and English-language textbooks.”
Government officials say that their biggest problem now is a lack of qualified teachers.
But they hope to recruit volunteers from English-speaking countries to come here, and are also sending Chilean teachers to places like California and Delaware.
“The first thing we have to do is train an army of English teachers,” said Mr. Fabrega. The quality of the English that will eventually be spoken here may not rival Shakespeare’s, he conceded, but he said that did not matter. “We’ll speak English Chilean-style, because the important thing is to understand English and to be able to use it as a tool in our favor.”
Dedication This book is dedicated to all the teachers in Chile, and the entire world, who believe that English can be learned to a high level. The most successful English learners begin from an early age, regardless of whether we are looking at Canada, Singapore, or Chile.
Yes, in Chile, we have bilingual students.
They became bilingual without sacrificing the mother tongue, or the Chilean culture, or the heritage that identifies them as members of a particular linguistic community.
In the case of this book, I refer to the special nature of being Chilean, and speaking English.
It is not a dream, bilingualism in Chile, it is reality, but only for a few. “English for Everyone” is a task the teachers, parents, students, and the nation of Chile must get serious about.
We need to study our own Chilean experience, and replicate our success in the private sector in the public sector.
This book, again, is dedicated to every teacher in the world who is involved in this noble endeavour. May God Bless You All.
The global search for high-quality education, embedded in high-performing education systems, has taken on mythical proportions, almost resembling the alchemists’ quest to turn common metals into gold.
It is my hope that the present day search for global education, equitable and providing equality of opportunity for all, shall not cease until the “gold” we seek, has been found.
I therefore dedicate this book to all the educators, researchers, parents and students the world over, who strive to achieve this elusive goal,high-quality education for all the citizens of the world.
In this endeavour, it is my belief that the International Baccalaureate merits a closer look, based on their more than 40 year history of delivering consistently excellent results.
I add that all of the reflections and views in this book are mine alone, unless otherwise noted, and can not be attributed to my employer or any other organization I am affiliated with, past or present. For any errors or oversights, I bear the complete responsibility.
Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Head of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.
He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.
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 forty six (46) books overall.
The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.