Las verdaderas lecciones de #Finlandia: Mario Waissbluth entrevista a Pasi Sahlberg, experto en #educación #MondayBlogs #ASMSG #Chile #IARTG

La semana pasada tuve el privilegio de conocer y conversar en privado con Pasi Sahlberg, el especialista finlandés (o finés) en política educativa, de renombre mundial, que nos estuvo visitando en Chile. Es matemático con post grado en educación, e hizo clases 20 años en una escuela pública de ese país, por lo cual no es únicamente un académico del tema. Es autor de la mundialmente citada obra “El cambio educativo en Finlandia: ¿qué puede aprender el mundo?”.

Aprendí más en esas 3 horas que en 3 meses. Por ello, le solicité una entrevista, que plasmaré aquí. Esta no es una columna, sino una entrevista con transcripción traducida pero textual de las respuestas.

En este polarizado país, me temo que algunos lectores encontrarán aquí párrafos para abanderarse pro o contra la reforma, a favor del gobierno o la oposición, y borrarán de su mente los párrafos que no les convienen. Pero, en fin, sigamos discutiendo y tratando en lo posible de generar un consenso nacional. Sin ese ingrediente, estamos fritos, y Sahlberg lo deja muy claro.

1. Ya todos sabemos de la importancia de los profesores en Finlandia, y de los elevados grados de autonomía que ellos y las escuelas gozan. Vamos un paso más alla, entendiendo que ningún país puede copiar a otro, especialmente con trayectorias tan disímiles como las de nuestros países. ¿Podrías comenzar identificando los aspectos culturales y sociales que marcan la situación educativa de tu país?

“Creo que las políticas educativas deben ser aprendidas, nunca copiadas… tal como enseñamos a los niños en nuestras escuelas. Es común no sólo en Chile sino en muchos países intentar imitar la educación de Finlandia, y siempre recomiendo no hacerlo. La principal razón es que la sociedad finlandesa ha logrado funcionar bien en su conjunto, no sólo en educación. Las políticas de salud, empleo, juventud y medioambiente están intrínsecamente ligadas con la educación escolar”.

“Si acaso hay un aspecto de nuestra educación que es más importante que otros, es el foco sistemático en incrementar la equidad y la igualdad educativa: educación parvularia universal, atención preventiva a niños, y escolaridad obligatoria sin selección ni especialización temprana”.

(Nota de MW): Como me explicó Sahlberg, hay procesos de elección de escuela por los estudiantes, en el tramo de 16 a 19 años, con selección por promedio general de notas incluyendo las de arte, deportes, etc., tanto para escuelas técnico-vocacionales como científicas, y aquellas altamente especializadas, y todas son igualmente demandadas. Este es el tramo de la “Educación Media-Superior”, a diferencia de Chile, en que la selección se hace a los 13 años, al menos hasta hoy.

Para leer más, haz click aqui:

Entrevista de Mario Waissbluth a Pasi Sahlberg.
Publicada originalmente en Voces de La Tercera.

“Ningún país del mundo ha sido exitoso con sistemas como el chileno. Se requiere más foco en la equidad de resultados, mejor gestión de la libertad de elección y de la segregación, mejorar la profesión docente, y construir una reforma con una visión clara de futuro, y esa ha sido la sugerencia de muchos especialistas internacionales”.

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#MondayBlogs: Pasi Sahlberg in #Chile #ASMSG #edchat #education

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar for teachers of English at the Hualpén Municipal DAEM as an invited guest speaker. The seminar was entitled “Improving English Speaking Fluency and Effective Teaching Methodologies.” In this opportunity, I chose to give a talk about whether becoming bilingual in English was an impossible task for Chile. I ruled out a more historical talk about the progress of ELT in Chile due to time limitations. Maybe next year?

Recently, the Finnish education expert, Pasi Sahlberg, who teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was in Chile. Sahlberg was the director general of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation (CIMO) in Helsinki, Finland, and an adjunct professor at the Universities of Helsinki and Oulu. He has been a teacher and teacher educator, as well as an education specialist for the World Bank and the European Commission.

Accoording to his analysis of PISA 2012, “THE PISA 2012 SCORES SHOW THE FAILURE OF ‘MARKET BASED’ EDUCATION REFORM“.

PISA

3 Key Findings of PISA 2012

1. Countries that give schools autonomy over curricula and student assessments often perform better. PISA shows how success is often associated with balanced professional autonomy with a collaborative culture in schools. Evidence also shows how high performing education systems engage teachers to set their own teaching and learning targets, to craft productive learning environments, and to design multiple forms student assessments to best support student learning and school improvement.

2. High average learning outcomes and system-wide equity are often interrelated. Equity in education means that students’ socio-economic status has little impact on how well they learn in school. Equity is high in the agenda in all successful school systems. Focus on equity means to give high priority to universal early childhood programs, comprehensive health and special education services in schools, and balanced curriculum that has equal weight in arts, music, and sports, and academic studies. Fairness in resource allocation is important for equity, too. PISA 2012 shows that fair resourcing is related to the success of the entire school system: High student performance tends to be linked to more equitably resource allocation between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.

3. School choice does not improve the performance of education system. School choice and competition between schools are related to greater levels of segregation in the education system. That, in turn, may have adverse consequences for equity in learning opportunities and outcomes. Indeed, successful education systems do better than those that have expanded school choice. All successful school systems have a strong commitment to maintain their public schools and local school control. PISA 2012 data show that the prevalence of charter and free schools with related competition for students have no discernible relationship with student learning.

Source: The Guardian

Short Bio

Pasi Sahlberg is Finnish educator, author and scholar. He has worked as schoolteacher, teacher educator, researcher and policy advisor in Finland and has studied education systems and reforms around the world. His expertise includes school improvement, international education issues, classroom teaching and learning, and school leadership. His best-seller book “Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland” (Teachers College Press, 2011) won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award. He is a former Director General of CIMO (Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation) in Helsinki and currently a visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, MA, USA. More on his website: pasisahlberg.com and Twitter: @pasi_sahlberg.

Digital edition of La Tercera Newspaper

Posted in Education, EFL, Higher Education Teaching & Learning, Interviews, Reflections, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#FREE #Book! The Chilean National #English Test: The Years 2001 – 2014 #ASMSG #MondayBlogs #edchat #ell #efl #eslchat

Wow! 2015 is off to a fast start with so many things happening for me personally and professionally. I start the year off, appropriately, with a free book for my readership. But first, to catch up on the news, I was invited to participate in a very satisfying seminar for English teachers in the community of Hualpén. The teachers there are amazing, absolutely amazing. They took my breath away with their dedication to their profession, to their students, and to their own professional development. I can not thank them enough for inviting me, because I left very inspired by them. I learned so much from them.

The coordinators of the Hualpén English Teachers Network, Isabella Diaz and Yenny Gaete, have formed an incredible group of dedicated, motivated, enthusiastic, determined, cohesive and talented teachers who are doing tremendously good work and really great things in the municipal sector in Hualpén. I can’t praise them enough for the outstanding work they are doing with students from the public sector. Their students come primarily from very vulnerable, at risk for failure, low socio-economic backgrounds. The teachers are making a difference in turning that around into an epic success story.

Very importantly, they have the support of the community behind their efforts. There is a real, palpable and united effort from everyone, from the office of the mayor of Hualpén on down, to provide the very best educational opportunities to children in that community. English has been given a priority in Hualpén, from the earliest ages, starting in kindergarden. There is a belief that 2 languages can be learned at the same time. There is a belief that learning English is not a socio-economic issue, that poor children can learn English. Over time, their efforts will surely bear wonderful fruits for the children of that community. In sum, it’s the kind of stuff that makes my heart sing! I truly look forward to collaborating with those teachers whenever I can, again and again, in the future.

On a personal level, this year is a year of change for me. I will be taking on a new personal challenge, career wise. Yet at the most fundamental level, I will be doing what I love, namely, teaching English. As I have said many times, teaching English is my life. For better or for worse, English has the ability to change lives, to improve the quality of someone’s life, to open the door to economic and social opportunity, and to enrich one’s own appreciation of your own cultural heritage in numerous ways.

Related to that, today is a very good day to announce that my book about teaching and learning English in Chile which looks at the past 15 years of national English tests is available for free for 5 days. So, if you have an account at Amazon, download this book for free. For me, it is appropriate at a moment of change to look backward, to appreciate where I have been (personally and professionally) before moving on to where I want to be in the future.

This book combines my history as a teacher of English with the history of teaching and testing English in Chile. I am happy to share it with you and hope it will help you to become a better teacher, a better learner of English. I have tried to remain objective, state the facts, and use a factual evidence base to inform my thinking about testing. It is this knowledge of where we have come from, overall, that is the strongest case for where we are heading. Regardless of the snails pace we are traveling at, there can be little doubt that we are moving forward toward the ultimate goal of bilingualism in Chile (Spanish-English). In fact, I sincerely believe we are a lot closer than we think, but that’s only my opinion…

Book Description
Publication Date: July 4, 2013

Bienvenido. Welcome to educational testing in Chile. The object of this book is to present as clear an account as possible of the historical development of educational testing in Chile with regards to the Chilean National English test. It is a mixed-genre, story within a story, autobiographical-historical text interwoven into one continuous, developmental narrative, of a teacher and of a nation, Chile.

The aim has been to adapt it to the needs of the great body of busy teachers and learners who have neither the time nor the means to make a comprehensive study, but are earnestly striving to be informed regarding the facts that are indispensable for an understanding of the theory and practice of modern English Language teaching, learning and testing in a foreign language context.

Why this book? This book is written by a teacher, for teachers, worldwide. It deals with questions of interpreting test results, washback, and the inevitable, preparing for international exams, regardless of type.

Yet beyond these considerations, there is the historical aspect. In today’s globalized world, it seems we forget things that happened only a decade ago. Thus, we repeat the mistakes of the past, unnecessarily. This book plays a role in remembering what we have done in the past, especially in English Language Teaching, Testing & Learning.

Yet, is this book able to make a contribution? Does it provide new knowledge, new insights? Despite the hasty conceived generalization that socioeconomic factors explain everything, I believe this book has something new to say, the ability to shed a fresh light, from a different, closer perspective than what we have been provided thus far. I am talking about the view from the classroom, the teacher’s “unheard voice” to what has been left unsaid…

Yes, the public, worldwide, is often led to believe that poor children can’t learn. They go to poor schools, with weak teachers, with low hopes and low self-esteem, hopeless and helpless. Yes, we know, this is what worldwide is often the case for the underprivileged masses.

To exemplify, Carolina Schmidt, the former Minister of Education, here in Chile, said, (I paraphrase in my own words): The situation here in Chile is that learning English is a socioeconomic privilege. I hope the reading of this book will lead you to draw a different, more hopeful, conclusion. Some child’s very future could depend on it…

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20 Incredibly Rare #Author Interviews Unearthed! #MondayBlogs #ASMSG #RRBC

Hi Thomas,

We recently published an article that you may be interested in entitled, “20 Incredibly Rare Author Interviews Unearthed” (http://www.onlinecollege.org/2012/03/19/20-incredibly-rare-author-interviews-unearthed/).

After having followed your blog for a while, I feel that this one article would align well with your blog’s subject matter. I thought perhaps you’d be interested in sharing this article with your readers? Thanks, and keep up the great blogging!

Sincerely,
Carol Brown
OnlineCollege.org
(March 20, 2012)
**

20 Incredibly Rare Author Interviews Unearthed

Readers often love to see into the minds of the authors who have penned their favorite books, but sometimes, doing so is next to impossible. There are a variety of reasons why it might be difficult to track down an author interview: the writers in question only offered interviews along the same general frequency as Halley’s Comet, or they typically pop up in different media, or some even lose the footage over time. But despite these struggles, the following reads, listens, and watches all earned consideration. Some of these prove far more available than others, of course, but each one stands as a lovely look into a powerful, creative mind. Yes, even the ones who tend to communicate in itty-bitty quips.

1. PHILIP ROTH AT THE TELEGRAPH, MAY 20, 2011

Shortly after earning the International Man Booker Prize, beloved Jewish-American author of Portnoy’s Complaint, The Human Stain, and myriad other medium-spanning works granted The Telegraph’s Benjamin Taylor a brief chat about writing, his love of history, John Updike, and other topics.

2. H.G. WELLS AND ORSON WELLES ON KTSA, OCTOBER 1940

Happenstance brought together the War of the Worlds author and seminal actor and filmmaker who infamously adapted it for a Halloween radio show in San Antonio. The pair discuss both the bizarre incident and the parallels between science-fiction and then-current World War terrors.

3. CORMAC MCCARTHY AT THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 19, 1992

These days, Cormac McCarthy is known almost as much as something of a media hermit as he is the author of All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men, and other gritty Southern dramas. He continues shunning most journalists, but did pop out of his self-imposed exile long enough to “talk rattlesnakes, molecular computers, country music, [and] Wittgenstein” with The New York Times’ Richard B. Woodward.

4. HARPER LEE AT THE DAILY MAIL, JUNE 27, 2010

The Daily Mail (of all places) headed to Monroeville, Ala. and scored a brief audience with Harper Lee around the 50th anniversary of her seminal To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course, there was a catch – Sharon Churcher couldn’t ask one question about the game-changing novel. So the resulting article wound up rather thin indeed.

5. J.D. SALINGER AT THE NEW YORK TIMES, NOVEMBER 3, 1974

It took more than two decades before the Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey writer would smash his media silence for Lacy Fosburgh of The New York Times. What incited the truly rare event was the unauthorized publication of some older writings.

6. DAPHNE DU MAURIER ON BBC2, 1971

The notoriously interview-adverse Rebecca scribe eventually showcased her Cornish home to Wilfred De’Ath of the BBC and delved into her career in her very first television interview.

7. DON DELILLO AT THE GUARDIAN, AUG. 7, 2010

Although madly press-shy, renowned American postmodernist Don DeLillo allowed Robert McCrum an interview possibly because they share a mutual friend in Paul Auster. The result was a fantastic, insightful glimpse into the process behind an exciting mind.

8. THOMAS PYNCHON ON CNN, JUNE 7, 1997

Well, it wasn’t an interview so much as a brief, playful chat that ultimately never saw release, but CNN still impresses with its ability to get Thomas Pynchon to say ANYTHING! Even if it’s just how he isn’t really a recluse so much as not terribly fond of reporters.

9. WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS AT THE OCTOBER GALLERY, CIR. 1997

Beat movement cornerstone William S. Burroughs may not have lived as elusively as many of the other authors listed here, but partnering with the legendary Kathy Acker at an October Gallery proved a once-in-a-lifetime event before both passed.

10. CARLOS CASTANEDA FOR AUDIO-FORUM’S “SOUND SEMINAR,” 1968

Prior to The Teaching of Don Juan’s exploding, which left many genuinely questioning its veracity, the author — Carlos Castaneda — still studied anthropology at UCLA. He eventually retreated from the public view in the early 1970s to further study shamanism, making this radio talk with Theodore Rosak rather rare.

11. POPE JOHN PAUL II IN CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE, SEP. 19, 1995

Pope John Paul II proved a prolific writer in his lifetime, with plenty of books, letters, and essays to his name, but men in his political and religious position rarely entertain the time for interviews. Vittorio Messori published a novel-length interview with the pontiff in 1995, covering a wide range of Catholic topics from a more personal perspective.

12. MARCEL PROUST AT LE TEMPS, NOVEMBER 1913

This audio transcript of Marcel Proust’s interview at Le Temps is in French and appears to be its only online presence. Considering the In Search of Lost Time (which he opens up about here) artiste’s notorious hermit lifestyle, it’s rather stunning he even courted the media at all.

13. BILL WATTERSON AT THE PLAIN DEALER, FEB. 1, 2010

Laudable Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson’s email exchange with John Campanelli might very well be his first media interaction since 1989.

14. J.M. COETZEE AT DN.SE, DEC. 8, 2003

Although this Nobel winner makes occasional appearances at readings and the like, rarely will he ever compromise his valued privacy to grant an interview — although David Attwell managed to encourage him to publicly discuss his award and the literary canon as a whole.

15. ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE FOR MOVIETONE NEWS, OCTOBER 1928

Filmed at his own home, the Sherlock Holmes creator talks to William Fox about his belief in terrestrial communication with the deceased and other occult practices he found exhilarating. Some think this interview, in which he talks both his beloved detective and spirituality, might be the only one he ever conducted on tape.

16. NOAM CHOMSKY AND HOWARD ZINN FOR DEMOCRACY NOW!, APRIL 16, 2007

Neither of these progressive political and social staples are strangers to the media machine by anyone’s definition, but appearing at the same time proves a different story altogether. Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman paired the legendary linguist with the legendary historian for a fiery Patriots Day conversation about then-current events.

17. DENIS JOHNSON AT THE NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION, 2007

Press-shunning Denis Johnson emerged ever so briefly after receiving a National Book Award finalist honor for a very short exchange with Bret Anthony Johnston about Tree of Smoke.

18. WILLIAM FULLER AT QUID, MARCH 2007

Eirik Steinhoff managed to catch up with a brilliant metaphysical poet at his most unlikely day job — as the Chief Fiduciary Officer of a Chicago bank.

19. EDWARD ALBEE AT SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY, 2009

Public interviews of the elderly Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf playwright are scarce, and his appearance at the Sydney Theatre Company proved polarizing among theater critics and aficionados.

20. SAMUEL BECKETT IN WAITING FOR BECKETT: A PORTRAIT OF SAMUEL BECKETT, 1987/1994

Because Samuel Beckett wanted so to avoid the spotlight, interviews with him rarely crop up, which is what makes this taped interview from 1987 all the more resonant.

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#Bilingual in Chile by 2020? #ASMSG #MerryChristmas #FelizNavidad #ProsperoAño #Felicidad #MondayBlogs

Bilingual in Chile by 2020. For the one, an impossible dream. For the other, reality. Let me hasten to explain.

English is a very powerful, prestigious language. It is literally, “money in the bank” for those people who learn it as a second language, or a foreign language, as is the case in Chile.

English is used as the language of international business, commerce, tourism and travel. If you speak English, you have the legitimate aspiration to earn more money, have a higher quality of life, and broader educational opportunities. English is something that can make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Very few people would argue with that.

In light of such tremendous individual and collective benefits, then I ask, “why isn’t Chile already a bilingual country?”

The answer might come as a surprise to you. Chile is already a multilingual, multicultural, multiethnic country. Besides Spanish, Chilean citizens speak Rapa Nui, Aymara, Quechua, and Mapudungun. Granted, these are indigenous languages. There is little prestige, little social and economic power connected to speaking an indigenous language.

Nonetheless, let us not fool ourselves. A child who learns Aymara, Quechua, Rapa Nui or Mapudungun as his/her mother language, at home, must learn a new language at school, a second language, Spanish. And the children do this wonderfully, becoming bilingual in the prestige language – Spanish – and maintaining their cultural heritage in the indigenous language. In other words, Chile has a tremendous amount of people who are bilingual.

So why can’t we add another language to our multilingual, multicultural society? That’s a big question, with a lot of variables, and no easy answer that will suit everyone. But I wish to be clear on one very important point: Chile is already a bilingual country. We don’t have to wait until 2020…

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Help Me Celebrate 1 Million Views: 5 Days Till #Christmas #MondayBlogs #MerryChristmas #Xmas #ASMSG

Mandela

Welcome to the celebration. It’s five days until Christmas, and I’m celebrating an early Christmas gift. I’m celebrating one million page views on this blog. That’s incredible, amazing, and for me, mindboggling. I can’t even count to one million…well, if I did count to one million, it would probably take me a million days to do it.

So, I’m happy today. One million page views is an incredible number. It deserves to be celebrated with the people who made it happen. That means all of the people who came to read my writing on this blog. As you know, it has been in a constant state of evolution over the years.

What appears on this blog is personal, it is professional, and above all, it is not perfect. I write what I believe in. I write what I believe is important. I write what I would like to share with a good friend, you, the reader(s).

Each year, I’ve written less than the previous year. I’ve grown more insightful, more observant, more meticulous about what I share with you. I’ve never tried to be all things to all people. Often, what I write is counter to the beliefs and opinions that you might have. This is good, the fact that you may not always agree with me. It allows us to exercise our best judgement about the issues of the day.
1 - 1 A Million Site Visits
1 - 1 A Months & Years

As you know, I’m passionate about education, especially education in Chile. Education in Chile (public education) is currently undergoing a transformative process, from a market based theoretical underpinning, to a more equitable, inclusive model. Although I work in the private sector, I am in full agreement that equity and inclusion of all socioeconomic backgrounds in the same classroom would greatly benefit social cohesion in Chile, and ultimately, provide a solid framework to achieve higher quality education for everyone.

Speaking of education, I am no longer the Coordinator of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK Chile, a position I’ve held for the past 4 years. I’m proud of what the English department was able to achieve during that time. Here are a few highlights, if you will indulge me:

1. Ranked in Top 1% of schools in Chile in 2012
2. Ranked in Top 2% of schools in Chile in 2010
3. Over 90% success rate / pass rate on international exams
4. Passed International Baccalaureate MYP evaluation
5. 100% of English teachers international certified at CEFR level B2/FCE or higher

I would be remiss if I did not include the following:

6. 65 books written and published in 4 years

Wow! How did I do that? How did I write so many books? And then publish them? And then promote them?

That’s easy. None of it would have been possible without the love, understanding and support of my wife, Gabriela. Without her, I would be doing none of the things that I do. Somehow, she makes it all seem like what I do matters. When I look in her eyes, and I see her smiling face, and hear her speak the words from her heart to mine, “I Love You”, then it is the least I can do to give her something in return. And that’s the secret of my writing. I put my soul into it, my heart, and my mind, knowing that there is one person, my Gaby, who makes it all worthwhile.

So, what’s ahead for me?

I think now is the best possible time for me to seek a new challenge. So, I’m looking for a new job. Let me repeat that:

I’M LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB

There, I said it quite loud, but it’s only because I wanted to convince you I’m serious. There is always a moment in time when you find yourself at a crossroads. You basically have two choices,

1) to just play it safe, and stay where you are. It’s familiar, there are no surprises, tranquil, predictable. If I stayed at my current job, as a teacher of English at Colegio SEK International School, I would be playing it safe.

2) The second choice is to take a risk, and try something new. That’s scary, because what if you fail? The unknown is full of surprises, turbulent, and unpredictable. If I take a new job, in a new capacity, I would definitely NOT be playing it safe.

A very wise man (Nelson Mandela) said: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

As I said before, I’m looking for a new job.

I have nothing else that I would like to accomplish at my current job, no unfinished business.

The time I’ve invested in my work over the past four years have been mutually beneficial for everyone concerned. Nonetheless, nobody is irreplaceable. I was fortunate to have played a significant role in the preparation of the person who will succeed me. There is an absolute confidence that success will reward the efforts of the future.

So, if you think I would be a good addition to your educational efforts in the field of English Language Teaching in Chile, contact me and let me know how I can help you to achieve your goals. It would be a pleasure and an honor for me to consider your proposal.

In sum, I am thankful beyond words for all of you, each and every person who has read my writing on this blog. Without your readership, most certainly my authorship would not have been as it was. You have my gratitude, and my hope that you will continue to support my efforts as a writer, as a teacher of English, and as a human being. Thank you, again.

Next year, on January 5, 2015, (I think that is the date), I will be down south, in Concepción, Chile, giving a presentation to teachers of English in the DAEM of the Hualpén community. I will be talking about the way in which I believe Chile can become a bilingual country, why it matters, and how the seemingly impossible goal (bilingualism) is within the limits of our human potential. I promise it will be interesting, thought provoking, and above all, well worth your time to attend the seminar.

Finally, let me close this very special post, because how often do you get a chance to make two important and special announcements at the same time?

1. I’m looking for a new job. Contact me if you think I can help you.

2. This blog has had ONE MILLION PAGE VIEWS. Amazing and awesome, fabulous and fantastic, marvelous and magnificent!

For me, this is the first time ever. It’s taken four years, and hopefully, the next million page views will come even sooner.

There are only five days until Christmas. Gaby and I wish you and your family and friends a very Merry Christmas, a Prosperous New Year, and lots of Happiness in 2015!

Signed,
Thomas Baker
(Happy Holidays)

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#MerryChristmas! Books Make Great #XmasGifts! #ASMSG #Christmas #Presents #MondayBlogs

Books make great gifts. Why? According to a very wise man: “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them.” Books inspire us, motivate us, thrill us, and most importantly, help us to be better people. So, give the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season. Here’s 5 good reasons to give someone you love a book this Christmas:

1. Books R Awesome – plain and simple.

2. Families can always find space for a book in their hearts.

3. Books R super easy to wrap.

4. The right book can be enjoyed by the entire family.

5. Books are treasured. They are kept, re-read and handed around and down through generations.

Need more reasons? Books inform us and delight us and they are “ready on demand,” just waiting on your book shelf for your next free moment. With that in mind, here is a list of a few titles that could make great gifts for readers on your list this year.

Looking For Catarina: A Love Story From Santiago de Chile to Florence, Italy.

Synopsis:
An Italian-Chilean teacher of English travels From Santiago de Chile to Florence, Italy to celebrate New Years in his mother’s home country. What he will discover is a centuries-old love story that will defy his imagination. How this happens is a mystery that involves the paranormal and time travel. In the end, this is a poetic, mystical and magical tale of the true nature of love. It is the dilemma that every love story from the beginning of time has been faced with, namely: How long are you willing to wait for the one you love? Read this book for the surprising answer to that question…

Boudicca: Her Story.
Synopsis:
Who was Queen Boudicca? Boudicca was the Warrior Queen of the ancient Iceni tribe. She is arguably England’s first, famous, female ruler. Tacitus, the Roman historian, writing over 30 years after the events he records, tells us she was a loving and devoted wife, obedient yet fully emancipated, loyal to her people, a loving mother, a determined foe, a fierce warrior in battle, and someone who never accepted defeat.

For some, Queen Boudicca will be forever surreal, a legend, a myth, a mystical person created by Tacitus. Others will see her through a practical, more historical lens, as a barbarian, warlike, incapable of peacefully compromising with the Romans for the greater good of all. For some, she will be a ruthless, vengeful, bloodthirsty woman. Indeed, how much blood must flow when a wrong is committed against your family and your people? The only one who could properly answer this question is the one who has suffered at the hands of the wrongdoer, the oppressor. We have been told the Roman story, the victor. What might the loser’s story be, if it were to be told?

Alexis Sanchez: The Beautiful Game: Poetry In Motion.

Synopsis:
A quick, entertaining story about a super star in The Beautiful Game! The energy and the enthusiasm for the man and the game comes through in this inspiring tale of an athlete who gives his all to the game and, in turn, thrills fans around the world. There’s an almost athletic pace to the telling of this story that captures and conveys the joy soccer brings to “aficionados” and occasional viewers who tune in when the World Cup is at stake. The links included in the book is a bonus, a chance to see for yourself—poetry in motion.

Meet Me In Memphis: A Story of True Love.

Synopsis:
This is a story of true love, a love story, a tale of serendipitous romance and fortuitous misfortune. It’s got a familiar feel, mixing in the culture of two nations, and two world-renowned cities, Memphis and Santiago. A romance needs beauty, and this book has the mythological beauty of a goddess present within its pages. And to make it complete, there’s a courageous teacher of English, with a dilemma, with a choice to make, a difficult decision to deliver. A word of caution: The reading of this book will cause you to feel the need to travel, to go “Walking in Memphis”, to enjoy the culture and customs, the music and the food, soul food. Why not try a delicious pecan pie while you are in Memphis?

Bilingual in Chile: An Impossible Dream?

Synopsis:
Thomas Jerome Baker’s “Bilingual in Chile:: An Impossible Dream?” is well-researched, easy to follow and inspiring. I applaud the author for dedicating this book to all English language teachers and students and for his passion that clearly comes across. Very interesting to learn how bilingual minds work more efficiently.

Mr. Baker is able to explain what will make the people from different parts of the world, not just from Chile more self-sufficient by being able to communicate in English.This is such an inspiring subject, life changing, I am certain.

Quote ~ “When you make bilingualism a way of life. As a way of life, it becomes transformative. It transforms the possibilities for social, economic, and personal success. Doors that were previously closed are suddenly open.”

Ebola Virus Disease: From Epidemic To Pandemic: What You Should Know.

Synopsis:
Quote ~ U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power: “Ebola has no greater friend than fear. The virus thrives on it. We see fear in the affected countries…

It is fear that leads community members to stigmatize survivors of the virus, or the relatives of those who have died, or even the health professionals and other people aiding in the response…

A 24-year-old survivor in Guinea told me she had lived three lives: her life before Ebola; her life in the hell of her infection; and her life since recovering. She said the stigma she has suffered since beating Ebola has made her current life the hardest.

All over the world, governments and our fellow citizens are afraid that if we send doctors or nurses or soldiers or engineers or other volunteers to the affected countries, we will put our own communities at risk… The fear is understandable. Many of our countries, like those most affected, are dealing with Ebola for the first time, and it is a dangerous and terrifying virus…

We must ask ourselves: twenty years from now, when we look back on this historic crossroads, will we want to say we left this fight to the people of the affected countries?

Will we want to say we did not act because we thought others would win the fight without our help?

Will we want to admit that fear held us back?

If we will not want to give these answers when we are asked in twenty years – and make no mistake, we will all be asked – we have to do more.” (end of quote)

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#ASMSG Anyone who is good at #German learns #English better #IARTG #edchat #eslchat #ukedchat #cpchat #edcamp #T4US #Xmas #Christmas

There is a lively ongoing debate in the field of second language acquisition as to whether (i) a “sensitive” period of bilingual language development really exists, and, if it does, (ii) what are its age boundaries (Flege, Yeni-Komshian and Liu, 1999; Friederici, Steinhauer and Pfiefer, 2002; Hakuta, Bialystok and Wiley, 2003; Singleton and Ryan, 2004)?

Researchers study relevant issues from a wide variety of perspectives, and languages. Below are two abstracts from recent research done that explores the optimal age of acquisition. Does it matter when children learn a foreign or second language? Is it better for children to learn the mother language first, and then later learn the second language? Read on, for some surprising answers from two very different contexts…

Abstract

How does age of first bilingual language exposure affect reading development in children learning to read in both of their languages? Is there a reading advantage for monolingual English children who are educated in bilingual schools? We studied children (grades 2–3, ages 7–9) in bilingual Spanish–English schools who were either from Spanish-speaking homes (new to English) or English-speaking homes (new to Spanish), as compared with English-speaking children in monolingual English schools. An early age of first bilingual language exposure had a positive effect on reading, phonological awareness, and language competence in both languages: early bilinguals (age of first exposure 0–3 years) outperformed other bilingual groups (age of first exposure 3–6 years). Remarkably, schooling in two languages afforded children from monolingual English homes an advantage in phoneme awareness skills. Early bilingual exposure is best for dual language reading development, and it may afford such a powerful positive impact on reading and language development that it may possibly ameliorate the negative effect of low SES on literacy. Further, age of first bilingual exposure provides a new tool for evaluating whether a young bilingual has a reading problem versus whether he or she is a typically-developing dual-language learner.

Your literacy skills in your first language heavily influence the learning of a foreign language. Thus, anyone who reads and writes German well is likely to transfer this advantage to English – regardless of the age of onset of foreign language learning. Foreign language lessons at an early age, however, pay off less than was previously assumed. In fact, they can even have a negative impact on the first language in the short run, as a linguist from the University of Zurich reveals in her long-term study involving 200 Zurich high-school children.

“A tree must be bent while it is young,” as one saying about learning a foreign language goes. In other words, the earlier you start learning a foreign language systematically, the better the language level will be in the long run. The second widely held view is that you need to be solid in your first language (L1) in order to develop good literacy skills in the foreign language.

Linguist Simone Pfenninger from the University of Zurich has been examining these two myths in her five-year study involving Swiss high-school children in order to identify the optimal starting age for learning German as a language of literacy and English as a foreign language. The partial results she has just published reveal that anyone who reads and writes German well is likely to carry over this advantage to English – and, interestingly, regardless of the age of onset of foreign language learning or the biological age.

The study also shows that students who are given early exposure to English do not maintain a clear advantage for more than a relatively short period over students who begin to learn the language only at secondary level. In fact, early foreign language learning can even have a negative impact on the L1 in the short run.

Positive and negative influences of German on English researched

For five years, the UZH scientist has been studying the extent to which starting age, biological age and L1 skills – Swiss or High German – influence the development of English proficiency. In order to test their skills in German and English, the literacy skills of 200 randomly selected high-school children in the Canton of Zurich were tested at the beginning and towards the end of their obligatory schooling in the senior grades. One group had begun English lessons in primary school at the age of eight, while the second group had only started English in high school at the age of thirteen.

Besides the positive influence of German on English, the negative influences and transfer of structures from the L1 to the foreign language were also studied in the areas of syntax and morphology. “After all, as the mother tongue becomes increasingly entrenched, you might also expect an increasing negative influence of the L1 on English,” explains Pfenninger.

As the results showed, foreign language lessons at an early age did not have a beneficial impact either in the long or in the short term. Already after six months learners who had started five years later had caught up with the early learners and sometimes even surpassed them, e.g. in terms of morpho-syntactic accuracy and complexity, syntactic fluency, grammaticality judgment, and content-related and structural aspects of written expression. However, the early learners had a larger vocabulary at the first measurement and less of a tendency to fill the gaps in their vocabulary in the foreign language with so-called “code-switching” into German. “By the second assessment, shortly before the final high-school exams, there were no longer any differences between early and late starters,” says Pfenninger.

Late starters had better German writing skills

According to the study’s author, the slightly disappointing results for early foreign language learning can be attributed to the following reasons (among others): at the beginning of high school, the late learners exhibited significantly better German writing skills than the early learners, who had already been taught German, English and French in elementary school. The late learners therefore began foreign language lessons with a more favorable foundation in the language of literacy. By the second assessment five years later, however, this advantage had disappeared.

Moreover, the link between German and English writing skills also displayed a positive and significant correlation: “Anyone who is good at German can carry over this advantage to the foreign language, utterly regardless of the age when they start learning the foreign language or their biological age,” sums up Pfenninger. Therefore, the results of this study have shown so far that, where success is concerned, this does not relate for the most part to age of onset or length of the exposure to the foreign language.

Literature:
Pfenninger, Simone E. The Literacy Factor in the Optimal Age Debate: a 5-Year Longitudinal Study. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. December 10, 2014. doi: 10.1080/13670050.2014.972334

University of Zurich

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#MondayBlogs: Feliz Navidad! #MerryChristmas! #Xmas Countdown => 33 Days Until Christmas! #ASMSG

There are only 33 days until Christmas! Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? Give someone you love a book this Christmas.

¡Felices Fiestas!

Pavarotti,Carreras,Domingo – Feliz Navidad
(We Wish You A Merry Christmas)
Bought a #Kindle 4 #Xmas?

Make sure 2 buy #Books!

http://ow.ly/29jNLa ★ #read #ASMSG ★http://ow.ly/29jNL9★ RT @profesortbaker – video created at http://animoto.com

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Jerome-Baker/e/B007G9HJFM

We Wish You A Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

Feliz Navidad! Prospero Año y Felicidad!

Give a gift that keeps on giving.

Give someone a book this Christmas.

Books are 4Ever!

http://goo.gl/fm9zaJ Public Speaking

http://goo.gl/vs1lnk Story Tellers: In Pursuit of Happiness

http://goo.gl/sGnjKI Looking For Catarina

http://goo.gl/TCEN67 Boudicca: Warrior Queen (paperback)

http://goo.gl/btNam1 Meet Me In Memphis

http://goo.gl/9yKKox Five Short Stories

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