Report on Academic
Specialist Visit to Bolivia:
July 1-14, 1999
By Ron Schwartz,
University of Maryland
Baltimore County (UMBC)
About the Specialist
Ron Schwartz is a lecturer and Co-director
of the ESOL/Bilingual M.A. program at the University of Maryland
Baltimore County (UMBC) in Baltimore, Maryland. He has been at
UMBC since 1979 as a member of the Department of Education. He
was responsible for beginning the ESOL/Bilingual M.A. Program
which was institutionalized in 1983. Mr. Schwartz received his
M.A. in English/ESOL from West Chester State University, West
Chester, Pennsylvania in 1972. Previous to coming to UMBC, Mr.
Schwartz taught EFL to secondary students in Puerto Rico; spent
one year in Huaraz, Peru on a Fulbright-Hayes secondary teaching
grant; was deputy director of one of the first ESP programs (1967-68)
in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; directed the Spanish language training
program at the Peace Corps training center in Ponce, Puerto Rico;
worked as an EFL and cross-cultural trainer for several Peace
Corps training programs; was EFL staff advisor for Peace Corps
Korea; and was a bilingual and ESOL teacher in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
He has served as program evaluator for bilingual and ESOL programs
in the U.S.; Peace Corps and USIA programs in Eastern Europe;
and university, binational, and elementary/secondary school programs
in Korea, Mexico, Ecuador, and Uruguay. He has appeared several
times on USIA/VOA Worldnet programs and regularly speaks at TESOL
conferences in the U.S. and abroad.
UMBC ESOL/Bilingual M.A. Program's
Web Page: http://www.umbc.edu/esol
How to contact Ron Schwartz:
ESOL/Bilingual M.A. Program
Department of Education
University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, Maryland 21250 USA
Areas of Specialization
Teaching for and evaluating oral
language proficiency, program evaluation, ESL/EFL and cross-cultural
teacher training, training for trainers, ESOL reading, and CBI.
He's especially interested in working with non-native speakers
whose level of English is intermediate/advanced (P-2+) or below.
The main purpose
of the Bolivia trip was to speak at the National Conference of
the Bolivian Binational Centers ("Centros Bolivianos Americanos"
-CBA-) held in Sucre, July 2 & 3. I also visited Potosi, Tarija
and Santa Cruz where I did teacher training and program consultation.
CBA National Conference:
CBA teachers and administrators attended the conference. The conference
was very well organized by the Sucre CBA staff. Presentations
included Personal Productivity (Sadiq Durrani, CBA, Santa Cruz);
Multiple Intelligences (Teresa Bleichner & Janett Diaz, CBA,
La Paz); and Enfoques Psicopedagogicos (Jesus Lazo, Ministry of
Education, Habana, Cuba). I gave a total of 4 1/2 hour presentation
to each group. The title of my presentation was Meeting the English
Proficiency Needs for Your Students: Ideas and Techniques for
Going Beyond the Textbook. It has been my observation that both
nonnative and native speakers of English need additional training
and encouragement in using proficiency building activities and
techniques in their classes. The presentations included ideas
and techniques to improve classroom communication between teachers
and students, teacher talk vs. student talk, error correction,
communicative tasks and functions to get the students talking,
and proficiency building classroom activities.
Throughout the conference
I was impressed by the motivation and creativity of the participants.
Their group work and micro-teaching was excellent. The participants
demonstrated a high level of professionalism. We also had a very
good time in the "CBA Games" which included basketball, soccer
and volleyball. The closing ceremony and dinner was a huge success.
On Monday, July 5,
I traveled to Potosi, accompanied by the CBA Sucre Academic Advisor,
to conduct an all day workshop for public school secondary EFL
teachers, Potosi CBA faculty, and university teachers. The workshop
was sponsored by the Sucre CBA. Approximately 25 teachers were
in attendance. The theme of the workshop was Techniques for Teaching
EFL in Difficult Circumstances. It was directed to the public
school secondary teachers who have up to 45 students in their
EFL classes and only teach them for one hour/week. Topics included
ideas for working with large classes, techniques for encouraging
student participation, and activities for including proficiency
building tasks and functions into the curriculum. Again I was
impressed by the enthusiasm of the teachers. The public school
teachers work under very difficult conditions with very little
attention paid to their professional development. The Sucre CBA
is to be commended for providing this professional development
day for these dedicated teachers.
Tuesday, July 6 I
spent at the CBA in Sucre. I worked with the Academic Director
looking at their testing program. In the afternoon, I observed
classes and participated in evaluating a group of advanced students
for oral proficiency. CBA Sucre is a growing institution and provides
a very important service to the community.
I then traveled to
Tarija (July 8-10) where I conducted a series of workshops (12
hours) for EFL teachers at the newly established CBA in Tarija.
25 teachers participated in the workshops. The following was covered:
Teaching EFL Under Difficult Conditions - Means, Methods and Motivation;
Teaching for Proficiency - Techniques of EFL Teachers Who are
not Native Speakers of English; and Administering and Scoring
The Proficiency Rating - Evaluating What We Teach. On the final
day of the workshop, we tested 3 of the CBA students using the
proficiency rating. The Tarija CBA has grown rapidly since it
opened six months ago and is ably administered by the Executive
and Academic Directors.
My final stop was
at the CBA in Santa Cruz (July 11-14). The CBA was on holiday
so I spent my time working with the Academic Director, Academic
Coordinator and the Academic Assistants. I did a curriculum and
program review, looked at their teacher policies and professional
development program, worked with the Academic Assistants on their
testing program, and did a short workshop on proficiency evaluation.
I was able to evaluate the oral proficiency of several of their
students. CBA Santa Cruz is a very large institution which provides
English classes for thousands of students. It has a very well
organized administration that coordinates the curriculum, texts
and supervision of the CBA's 85 teachers. It is professional in
In conclusion, I
would like to say that my two weeks in Bolivia was busy and I
hope productive. At every CBA, I was impressed by the professionalism
of the administrators and staff and the high level of English
of the teachers.
During my workshops
and presentations, I used approximately 30 different handouts.
Some of the materials and ideas were taken from the following
Denbo, S. (1986).
Improving minority student achievement: focus on the classroom.
Washington: Mid-atlantic Equity Center.
Service. (1982). ETS oral proficiency testing manual. Princeton,
N.J.: Education Testing Service.
Harris, P. and R.
Moran. (1991) Managing cultural differences. Houston: Gulf
Nunan, D. (1991).
Language teaching methodology: a textbook for teachers:
New York: Prentice Hall.
Omaggio, A.C. (1993).
Teaching language in context: proficiency-oriented instruction.
Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.
Richards, J., J.
Platt & H. Platt. (1992). Dictionary of language teaching
and applied linguistics. Essex: Longman.
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