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Cablegate: Promotion of English in Chile: Achievements And

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SANTIAGO 002408

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/PDA (MDCONNERS, GADAMS, NKLOPFENSTEIN,
DPRINCE)
STATE FOR WHA/BSC (DBARNES, ISHERIDAN)
STATE FOR ECA/A (TFARRELL, JCONNERLY, JCAVANAUGH,
JWALTERS)
STATE FOR IIP/G/WHA (GJORIA)
STATE FOR R/PPR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OEXC KPAO OIIP CI ESLCO
SUBJECT: PROMOTION OF ENGLISH IN CHILE: ACHIEVEMENTS AND
CHALLENGES

1. Summary: Over the past two years, Embassy Santiago
has made a substantial contribution to the advancement of
English teaching in Chile. PA has initiated and
implemented a variety of projects with the assistance of
the Office of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and
the Office of International Information Programs (IIP),
in partnership with the Chilean Ministry of Education or
the Fulbright Commission. The surge in English learning
may be one factor contributing to the doubling of the
number of Chilean students, from 1,612 to 3,290, choosing
to study in the U.S. in the past year. The case for a
Regional English Language Officer (requested in last
year's MPP) to be located in Santiago is stronger than
ever. End summary.

2. The Government of Chile has made English teaching and
learning a priority. Minister of Education Sergio Bitar
originally stated that Chile should be bilingual by 2010,
the year of Chile's Bicentennial celebration. His
expectations have since scaled back, but English
education remains a priority for the Lagos administration
and will remain so for the incoming administration as
well. It became apparent that Chile must first improve
the quality of teaching, so teacher training has become
the thrust of the GOC's work in English education. Post
has responded to the request from the Ministry of
Education to assist in this endeavor in many ways,
enumerated below.

3. English Language Fellows: For the last three years,
PA and the ECA Office of English Language Programs have
provided a Senior English Language Fellow to work with
English teacher trainers at the Ministry of Education,
binational centers (BNCs), and universities for a period
of ten months. This has had an immediate impact in
increased professionalization of the English teacher
corps.

4. Teacher Resource Site: The Fellow from last year
worked with the NGO "Fundacion Chile" and the Ministry of
Education to develop an English teachers' resource page
on the Internet. Fundacion Chile provides assistance to
the Ministry and had maintained a general education site
for years, but it only recently, with PA's help,
developed this English language resource site for
teachers. Now teachers can log on to find readings,
tests, games, and lesson plans -- all with American
content.

5. Teacher Networks: PA contracted an English-language
teacher trainer to work with the Ministry of Education to
establish training networks for English teachers and to
work on curriculum development. The networks are the
only way to provide in-service training to the 3,000
English teachers in Chile. They are thriving, and are
functioning well into their second year. In addition,
thanks to funding from ECA, the Ministry of Education is
giving mini-scholarships to teachers of English in four
key cities for enhanced professional training.

6. English Language Specialists: In the past year, we
have had six English Language Specialists come to Chile
(a significant increase over previous years) to provide
short-term training. These specialists have developed
workshops for public school teachers, BNC teachers and
university professors. This program is particularly
effective because we are able to choose a specialist
based on the needs of the host institution, and these
specialists are flexible enough to provide workshops to a
variety of different audiences.

7. Speakers: PA has also brought in speakers through ECA
for curriculum development in areas such as American
Studies, African American literature, English for Special
Purposes, and marketing techniques for English language
schools (including the BNCs). In parallel, speakers
recruited by IIP have shared expertise on a variety of
MPP-related topics. While not all speakers have
specifically addressed English learning, the content of
their presentations have encouraged scholars and other
professionals to improve their fluency and advance their
skills in using English for research.

8. English via Broadcast: One of the first projects
Post contributed to the GOC was the purchase of one
year's worth of "Sesame English", a series designed to
help young Spanish speakers learn English. This full
year of programming, shown on national television on
Saturday mornings as well as on the educational network
used in classrooms, recently ended, but PA Santiago is
negotiating to extend it for another year.

9. Essay Contests: PA Santiago sponsored an English
essay contest two years in a row for English teachers,
university students and high school students. Winners in
each of the separate categories won two-week study trips
to the U.S. Anecdotal evidence indicates they became
"citizen ambassadors" for the U.S., and advocates of
English, on their return.

10. Embassy Web Site: PA created its own English
teachers' web page that contains links to teacher and
student resources, international testing materials, and
online publications. In October, this English site
logged 686 hits. Since it is accessed from the main
Embassy web page, which gets an average of 120,000 hits
per month, we expect a rapid increase in users. PA's
Information Resource Center has also generated resource
material with U.S. content for English teachers.

11. Book Donations: PA has begun systematic
contributions of books in English to public schools,
American Corners, the binational centers, and
universities. This is an effective means of providing
not only goodwill but also materials that are needed in
Chile, as the cost of books in English is high and the
availability is limited. Chile has few public libraries,
and schools have limited collections.

12. Revival of TESOL Chile: Post has collaborated with
several organizations to promote English language
education. PA was instrumental in launching the new TESOL
Chile, a professional organization for English teachers.
PA provided funding, books, and speakers for the last
three TESOL conferences and newsletters. Due to poor pay
and lack of training, English teachers often feel they
are on the margins in terms of professionalism and
respect. The regeneration of this once defunct
organization has given English teachers more prestige and
has provided a venue for teacher training workshops.
Last year, PA sent a member of Chile TESOL to the
international TESOL conference, where she made valuable
contacts.

13. Intensive Residential Seminar: Drawing on the idea
of Summer Institutes at others posts, PA was instrumental
in early 2005 in creating "English Summer Town", a two-
week summer English immersion camp for teachers. The
Fulbright Commission and the Ministry of Education signed
on as eager partners once the concept and benefits became
clear. January 2006 will mark the second annual "Town,"
during which two sets of 80 teachers each will spend a
week in a series of workshops, discussions, and evening
cultural events. As last year, PAO Santiago will host an
American style barbecue at her residence for the entire
group. Post will also provide a presentation on Martin
Luther King, Jr., including a lecture and video.

14. Books in a Box Pilot Project: At English Summer
Town this year, two specialists and the English Language
Fellow offered a weeklong intensive "Books in a Box"
training. PA provided 25 sets of the books to 25
teachers and conducted the official pilot project for the
program in Latin America. Results have been mixed in
terms of cost effectiveness, since discussions with the
teachers who received the books and training indicate
they have not shared them widely with others.

15. ExpoIngles: The ExpoIngles Fair, the first of its
type in Chile, involved all of the Anglophone embassies
in Santiago and other institutions that promote the
teaching of English. Five thousand students and teachers
interested in studying either in Chile or abroad,
attended. PA's booth promoted American destinations for
study.

16. International Visitors: In FY 2005, for the first
time, an International Visitor candidate was selected to
examine U.S. language education for native speakers as
well as English as a Second Language. This Ministry of
Education official works on curriculum development in the
English language program, and has incorporated some of
the lessons learned during the visit into the curriculum.
As such, these changes will affect the way students will
learn English nation-wide.

17. Voluntary Visitors: PA is organizing a Voluntary
Visitors' program for five English teachers for January
of 2006. These are highly active members of a Ministry of
Education network who hold key roles in their schools and
communities in English teaching. None has traveled abroad
in the past. They are involved in TESOL, in teacher
training, and in educational reform. These teachers plan
to visit schools and learn how American teachers deal
with immigrant children who do not speak English. They
will also learn about new methodologies and techniques
for working with few resources.

18. WorldTeach: PA Santiago has provided information
and encouragement to the not-for-profit organization
WorldTeach run by Harvard, which brings volunteers to
teach English. The pilot program in Antofagasta last
year was so successful that WorldTeach increased its
number of volunteers from 16 to 30 and lengthened their
tours from one semester to two. PA also works with U.S.
universities with sizable student populations in Chile,
encouraging students to volunteer at schools to provide
Chilean counterparts with exposure to native speakers.

19. English Teaching Assistants: The Fulbright
Commission has become involved in the English education
movement by establishing six American English Teaching
Assistants as a pilot project for school year 2005 and
planning for another 10 for school year 2006. All
assistants are placed in universities and serve as in-
class native speaking resources rather than as teachers.
Most are also volunteering in public schools. Fulbright
maintains contact with these assistants through Internet
and phone contact and PA staff meet with them when
traveling to their cities.

20. Binational Centers (BNCs): PA Santiago supports a
network of BNCs in Chile, the oldest of which was
established 67 years ago. There are currently BNCs in
Santiago, Iquique, Antofagasta, Calama, La Serena,
Valparaiso, Curic, Chillan, Concepcion, Osorno and
Puerto Montt. Since the cut-off of funding of BNCs by
USIA, the centers have survived through offering English
courses. A priority goal for the embassy this year has
been to ensure that the BNCs meet a standard of
excellence in providing instruction, academic advising,
and library resources in a safe, congenial environment.
PA Santiago assistance to BNCs has been in the form of
training educational advisors, librarians/research staff,
administrative personnel and directors. In addition, we
have made donations of books and journals, sponsored
speakers and English Teaching specialists, and some
equipment, such as computers and power point projectors.

21. American Corners: The Corners provide easy and
attractive access to a wide range of resources, informal
dialogue, and speakers, to promote greater understanding
of U.S. culture, policy, and current affairs. We created
two Corners in Santiago in the past year and our overall
goal is to establish three more, in Arica, Valdivia and
Punta Arenas. While the Corners do not offer courses,
they do offer informal chat sessions in English, and
lectures, seminars and exhibits supplied by PA. The
Corners are perfect venues for embassy officer outreach;
recently an embassy consular officer gave a talk on
modifications in the student visa process, and a
political officer addressed United Nations reform.

22. Peace Corps: Post is exploring the possible return
of the Peace Corps to train English teachers in
collaboration with the Ministry of Education. This
project is awaiting final approval from the Peace Corps
following two exploratory visits to Chile by the Chief of
Operations for Inter America, but budget limitations may
put it on hold. The plan involves having Peace Corps
volunteers work with the Ministry's networks for teacher
training.

23. Conclusion: Despite the wide attention given to
English language education in Chile over the past two
years, serious deficits still exist not only in the
average Chilean's ability to speak English but also among
the English teachers themselves. Only an estimated three
percent of Chileans are fluent in English. The decision
of the GOC to require testing and credentialing for all
teachers has created widespread discontent, even
rebellion, among the teachers.

24. The Ministry has requested help from PA Santiago in
this next step of credentialing, another sign that the
Embassy has surged forward to become a major contributor
in the area of English teaching in Chile. Providing the
kind of guidance needed to effect transformation of the
education system requires specific skills and full-time
focus. The addition of a RELO in country would boost this
project and would provide the opportunity to insert
American content into what continues to be a heavily
British curriculum. The regional officer would also work
with the network of Binational Centers to standardize and
upgrade the level of English taught there. In short,
while PA's efforts in English teaching in the past two
years have yielded positive, tangible successes, a RELO
would provide the professional expertise needed to
coordinate all of PA's programs in this area, to build on
and sustain this momentum.

KELLY

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