- Our English Department was officially formed in
- The objective of this Department is to become a
well-organized group of teachers ready to work
together in a sound way so as to achieve the main
goals of the English Project set for the School.
I. The English Department : A way to work….
A way to succeed.
- If we think about the meaning of working as a
team, there are many aspects to consider. E.g.
number of teachers, ways of getting along,
personal strengths and virtues , weaknesses,
aspects to be improved, motivation , etc.
- Out of the previous list of important aspects, let
me refer to a couple which I consider of great
importance when starting to work as a team :
A. Keeping in mind our goals will lead us to
succeed in our tasks:
- Our main goal is to develop in our students the
abilities to learn and produce the target language in
a way they can use English, not only as a tool to open
their working expectations, but also as a way to open
their minds and hearts to the desire to meet other
cultures and learn from them.
- Therefore, our objective is to make our students
feel enchanted with the target language.
To achieve this, it is necessary that our individual
interests be left aside to foster team work and so to
accomplish what’s best for our children.
- It is of great importance the atmosphere we
generate within our working team. Why? because,
this is what our children will get and feel in every
class we teach. So, whenever you are mad, or sad ,
or stressed out , and the bell rings, you´ll enter to
your classroom and your students will sense those
negative feelings, and somehow they will not feel
welcome into your heart. If this situation arises,
then, sorry teachers, but it is very likely that many
of your students will finally hate English….Why? ___.
B. Individual strengths and virtues should be
gathered to form a strong and cohesive team.
- Whenever working as a team, we must open our
communication bridges or paths all the time. This
will help us to be aware of our partners´needs and
will develop our generosity in our souls. Somehow,
when working aligned with the rest of the team, we
feel we become better persons, and thus, this
feeling will get to our students.
- Therefore, Dear teachers, be ready to be the
torch that enlightens our children's minds and
hearts. And be ready to work in a friendly, nice and
II. The need of a well-defined English Project
for our School:
When thinking about defining a project, there are
several aspects to consider,.e.g. the necessary
components and deliverables .
Let`s focus on the need to have a sound curriculum
which implies defining the performance. And the
need, therefore , to define some concepts so as to
clear up our minds when dealing with them
throughout the school year.
It´s also essential to focus on the objectives set by
Mineduc in the English learning process and the
international standardized exams that our students
can take which can open a huge door to our students
once they leave school.
To define a curriculum is to think in the future.
Hence, the focus must be on defining the
performance: that is to say, how good a person is
at….. .and have it as the target. Then, set the
contents to reach that target.
Since last year (2006) our students started to use
the series of Hip Hip Hooray from 1st to 6th grades.
And the series Click On 1A for 7th grade and this
school year, 1B will be used by students of 8th grade.
We also started a challenging project to introduce
our younger students from Pre-School , into the
process of learning this target language.
Little kids from 3 to 5 years old, have 30-minute
sessions of English every day.
The objective for each level is aligned to the
following one, so as to make a sound curriculum that
helps our students to develop all 4 skills in an
effective and motivating way.
The series of text books selected are based on the
III. Defining some concepts:
It is very important to understand the meaning of
some of the key concepts we use when referring to
the teaching of English as a foreign language.
a. The Communicative Approach:
approach: A set of principles about teaching
including views on method, syllabus, and a philosophy
of language and learning. Approaches have
theoretical backing with practical applications.
communicative approach: A set of principles about
teaching including recommendations about method
and syllabus where the focus is on meaningful
communication not structure, use not usage. In this
approach, students are given tasks to accomplish
using language, instead of studying the language. The
syllabus is based primarily on functional development
(asking permission, asking directions, etc.), not
structural development (past tense, conditionals,
etc.). In essence, a functional syllabus replaces a
structural syllabus. There is also less emphasis on
error correction as fluency and communication
become more important than accuracy As well,
authentic and meaningful language input becomes
more important. The class becomes more student-
centered as students accomplish their tasks with
other students, while the teacher plays more of an
In recent years, some authors have combined an
emphasis on lexis with the communicative approach
to suggest a lexical approach to language learning and
Understanding more concepts :
use and usage: Use is how the language is used in
communication, or the function of language. This can
be contrasted with usage, which is the grammatical
explanation of some language.
Have you ever . . .
Have you ever eaten fried snake?
Use: To inquire about past experiences.
Usage: A present perfect question with ever placed
in front of the past participle.
fluency: Fluency refers to the ability to produce
rapid, flowing, natural speech, but not necessarily
grammatically correct speech. This is often
contrasted with accuracy.
accuracy: Accuracy refers to the ability to produce
grammatically correct sentences that are
comprehensible. This is often contrasted with
syllabus: A syllabus is the content of a language
program and how it is organized. This can be
contrasted to method, which is how a language
program is taught. Structural syllabuses and
functional syllabuses are two different ways of
organizing language material.
structural syllabus: A syllabus in which grammatical
structures form the central organizing feature. A
structural syllabus proceeds from simple
grammatical structure to more complex grammatical
structure. An example might be something like:
Present progressive -> Comparatives -> Simple past ->
Past progressive. The main faults of structural
syllabuses is that they tend to ignore meaning and a
lot of really useful language is neglected at the
beginning because it is viewed as structurally too
complex (If I were you, I would).
Structural syllabuses can be contrasted to functional
syllabuses, which are organized according to the
functions that language has (greeting, asking advice,
functional syllabus: Language programs with
functions being the primary organizing feature. The
course content is based on functions not grammatical
structures. A typical unit might be Giving Advice.
The content of the unit would include:
I think you should . . .
Why don't you . . .
If I were you, I would . . .
You'd better . . .
This could be a very basic unit taught to beginners
even though the grammatical complexity of these
expressions is quite high (including a second
conditional with subjunctive mood!). This can be
contrasted to structural syllabuses where the
syllabus is ordered according to grammatical
Other examples of functions include: asking for
directions, telling stories about the past, talking
about rules, and requesting information.
lexis: A word in all its various relationships with
other words. See also lexical phrases.
lexical approach: An approach to teaching languages
that has a lot in common with the communicative
approach, but also examines how lexical phrases,
prefabricated chunks of language, play an important
role in producing fluent speech. The lexical approach
was first coined by Michael Lewis. The fundamental
principle of the lexical approach is "language consists
of grammaticalized lexis, not lexicalized grammar."
What this means is that lexical phrases offer far
more language generative power than grammatical
structures. Accordingly, advocates of this kind of
approach argue that lexis should move to the center
of language syllabuses. Justification for this theory
comes from statistical analysis of language which
shows that we do indeed speak in chunks and
chunk: Several words that commonly occur together
in fixed phrases sometimes referred to as a lexical
phrase. We tend to speak in chunks which reduces
the energy required for processing language.
lexical phrase: Multi-word chunks of language of
varying length that run on a continuum from fixed
phrases like in a nutshell to slot- and- filler frames
the _____er, the _________er. Because
lexical phrases are 'pre-assembled' they are very
useful for creating fluent communication. They also
serve the purpose of organizing dialogue and writing.
And in organizing dialogue and writing, they provide
cues to the listener/reader about the flow of
Some examples of lexical phrases:
The problem with that is . . .
On one hand . . ., one the other hand . . .
What I'm trying to say is . . .
So what you're saying is . . .
That's beside the point.
b. ALTE framework and the objectives of
The Ministry of Education has established the
English levels that students of 8th grades and 12th
grades should be able to manage.
These levels are aligned to international standards .
In Chile, these standards were defined by ALTE
(Assosiation of Language Testers of Europe ) . The
standards were developed according to the Common
GROUP ALTE LEVELS
Teachers 3. Independent
of English User
5: Good User
If we think about the future of our students and
their performance to communicate in English, we
have to set standard for all 4 skills in learning the
Taking the ALTE (Association of Language Testers in
Europe) as example, they base the grading program
in levels of ability or performance.
The ALTE levels are: ( from lower to higher )
1. A1 : Breakthrough level
2. A2 : Waystage User
3. B1 : Threshold User
4. B2 : Independent User
5. C1 : Competent User
6. C2 : Good User
Cambridge, created 2 additional levels for our
country, prior to A1 :
1. Pre – Breakthrough
2. Lower Breakthrough
A preliminary test showed that the majority of High
School students were considered to be within these
2 levels previously mentioned.
According to experts in Cambridge, students need
from 180 to 200 hours of English classes to get to
ALTE 1 Level. The same amount of time takes to go
from ALTE 1 to ALTE 2 level.
According to the previous facts, we can then analyze
our reality in our school. Let us consider that
students from 5th grade have 6 hours of English
classes weekly , and that the school year takes up to
40 weeks. Therefore, in 1 year, students should have
240 hours of English classes.
Hence, we can take into account that by the time
these 5th graders get to 12th grade, they will have
reached , by far, the ALTE B1 level (Threshold
User) requested by Mineduc.
For Additional information about the ALTE levels,
there is an additional table with the framework of
ALTE levels .
You can also visit the web page: www.alte.org.