Report on Academic
Specialist Visit to Indonesia: February 7 - 19, 1999
Universidad Tecnologico de Sonora (ITSON), Sonora, Mexico
About the Specialist
Dayna House, M.A. is an English Instructor
at Universidad Tecnologico de Sonora (ITSON) in Sonora, Mexico.
She has been with this institution since 1997 and is a former
English Teaching Fellow (ETF) to Mexico. A native of California,
Ms. House received her baccalaureate (1982) at San Diego State
University in Spanish and Portuguese Language and her Masters
of Science (1992) in Linguistics and a TESOL Certification from
California State University at Fullerton. Ms House is currently
enrolled in distance learning Ph.D. program with Barrington University.
Apart from her current position in Mexico, Ms. House has also
taught in Brazil (1980 - 1981) and Korea (1992-1994).
Ms. House can be reached by e-mail
or by mail at:
Galeria de Arte -- Altos
Sector Villa Hermosa #111
San Carlos, Nvo. Guaymas
Sonora, Mexico 85506
Areas of Specialization
While an ETF in Mexico she worked
with the Ministries of Education of the states of Nuevo Leon and
Cohuhuila to create an English teacher training program that is
currently in use in Cohuhuila. During her grant period Ms. House
also traveled throughout Mexico holding teacher-training seminars
in places such as Chiapas, Morelia, Aguas Calientes, Guadalajara,
Saltillo, Monterrey, San Luis Potosí, etc. along with USIA
English Language Officer Mike Jenson. For the past five years,
Ms. House has lectured extensively in Mexico on the Communicative
Approach to Teaching English as a Foreign Language for Secondary,
High School and University Teachers.
During the week of February 7th to
13th I was in Dili presenting workshops in teacher training.
The first three days were directed
toward junior high school teachers. During initial activities
I discovered that many of these teachers had had poorly developed
conversational skills and most had little comprehension of the
English language. Seventy-two percent (72%) of the teachers were
native Timorese. A quick rethinking of approach was in order and
workshops were adapted or eliminated because participants simply
could not deal with the level of English. Most teachers had only
had the customary three years of English in junior high and three
years in high school.
The final three days focused on high
school teachers. Only twenty-one percent were locals and the others
had been assigned to East Timor from other islands by the public
education office of Jakarta. The latter group had a much higher
level of English and were easily able to follow the seminar and
materials handed out.
Several teachers expressed gratitude
that the U.S. government had consciously considered them and sent
trainers. Most of these teachers had finished only up to high
school level. Their high school was a kind of "normal school"
to train them to be elementary school teachers but with no specific
training to be English teachers. The teachers realize their limitations
and desire to be given more tools to accomplish their task.
Due to this lack of real training
most Timorese receive, the majority of public school teachers
on East Timor have been assigned there from other islands by the
Indonesian Ministry of Education. Due to the current political
problems in East Timor, the relationship between these teachers
(not from East Timor) and their students (who are from East Timor)
is often strained. It seemed
appropriate then to spend some time during each session to help
teachers discuss and trouble shoot discipline problems in the
Education in East Timor seems to
be "on hold" as teachers spoke of the problem of unmotivated students,
primarily due to the political situation. Another obstacle is
that students often do not like learning English because they
feel that it is a difficult language. Again, the lack of training
provided to the teachers could be one of the causes of this.
To help ease the tensions in the
classroom, I suggested that that the teachers discuss with their
students the fact that they are tomorrow’s leaders and the importance
of basic education in any language is essential preparation for
their future. I also pointed out how learning different languages
is socio-culturally beneficial to the the students in the long
run --Education is Knowledge!
This program was just a drop in the
bucket in fulfilling a gigantic need for training. Due to the
current political problems it is doubtful that there will be much
emphasis given to English or education in general until this situation
is resolved. However, it is my hope that RELO Mike Jenson remain
in contact with the local authorities that approved and supported
this seminar and that in the future a more extensive program of
teacher training for English teachers might be approved and organized.
When the current political situation is resolved, East Timor will
still require major efforts to educate the people who have had
a scarce and interrupted educational career.
After returning from Dili, I gave
a seminar at Jakarta Teacher Training College (IKIP Jakarta).
These workshops were a refreshing change from dealing with the
struggling teachers in East Timor. In contrast, these teachers
were well-trained and had much experience. The materials chosen
for the seminar were appropriate and useful to this group. The
main theme of the seminar focused on becoming a better teacher
by being in tune with the needs of the students and finding ways
to collaborate with individual student to optimize learning by
teaching students to take responsibility for their own language
learning process. Based on Bloom's taxonomy, teachers analyzed
their textbooks activities for learning strategies and learned
how to apply these learning strategies. Other topics such as reading
strategies, communicative writing and teaching children were also
presented with an enthusiastic reception.
Ms. House has published 2 articles
related to language learning:
"Numbers-Asian Superstitions" California
Lingwistik Newsletter. June-July 1991:5-7
"Report on the Panel Discussion on
English Teaching in Mexican Public schools" MEXTESOL Journal.
Winter 1996, vol. 19, No 3
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