For the last 20 years, Violeta Calderon has been an English teacher to high school-aged students in her home country of Peru.
Now, Calderon, who is 49, is spending seven weeks in a classroom at Arizona State University’s West campus – this time as a student.
She’s part of an extensive English teacher training program for 235 Peruvian public high school teachers that is run through the American English and Culture Program at ASU.
“I wanted to come here to do this – for me it’s a blessing,” Calderon said. “To come to another country, to come to the United States, to have this special program because I want to improve. Not only my listening, but speaking, so I have an opportunity to practice my English all the time.”
In the program, which started Jan. 19, Peruvian teachers like Calderon are improving their English language communication skills and their teaching methodology so they can go back to Peru and elevate the level of English education in their entire region.
The teachers were granted a full scholarship to attend this program at ASU through PRONABEC, the continuing education and scholarship granting arm of the Peruvian Ministry of Education.
Their arrival at ASU comes as a new agreement was signed between the university and the Peruvian government.
“I am enormously proud to partner with Arizona State University and the Government of Peru to transform English teaching in Peru,” said Brian A Nichols, America’s Ambassador to Peru. “ASU’s historic agreement to train hundreds of Peruvian teachers in English education will improve the educational outcomes of thousands of students around the country.”
The Peruvian government selected ASU out of a prestigious group of American universities to host the teachers. They are the largest group Peru has ever sent abroad for teacher training, signaling the country’s excitement about the ASU partnership.
“We were pleased to be selected from other top U.S. universities to deliver this robust training program for public high school teachers,” said Robert E. Page, Jr., university provost. “ASU and the Ministry of Education in Peru share a common commitment to academic excellence and to social inclusion.”
The Peruvian teachers will not only be improving their own English skills, but they will be learning how to better teach English when they get back home, and how to pass along their new skills to their colleagues.
“We put them through a demanding program while they’re here, but it is one that they will leave with tremendous new talents to share in their communities,” said Shane Dixon, educational lead of ASU’s Peruvian teacher training program.
The Ministry of Education in Peru wants to send around 4,000 English teachers abroad to improve their ability to teach at home. The government believes that English proficiency among its people will improve its economic success.
"It is gratifying to know that our teachers will specialize in such an important issue as the English language, because knowledge and mastery of English is key to strengthening the ability of young Peruvians to thrive in the global economy," said the executive director of PRONABEC, Raul Choque.
Of the 235 participants, 70 are from Lima, the capital of Peru, while the remainder of the group is from other parts of the country.
Martin Laban, 46, teaches in a female-only public high school in Piura, 15 hours by bus from Lima.
“The first week was a culture shock but then I adapted to this and ASU,” Laban said. “I love this kind of culture and the experience I’m getting here.”
Laban said every day in Arizona is a new experience for him.
“I hope to learn many interesting things, to take them to my school and put in practice, especially strategies and techniques,” Laban said. “I am totally convinced that they are going to be important for my students.”
Aside from the teacher training part of the program, the students are getting to experience the culture of ASU and the American Southwest.
Participants attended the Martin Luther King Day “I Have A Dream” speech re-enactment on ASU’s west campus in January, went on a trip to the Grand Canyon and attended a Super Bowl viewing party.
Additionally, the participants will visit local schools around the Valley; hear from guest speakers from Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College, as well as speakers from the community; attend an ASU Men’s Basketball game; attend the Renaissance Festival in Tempe; and go to the Celebrate Peru Day on the Tempe campus to make a presentation about Peru culture to a wider audience.
"The Peruvian government is making a series of strategic investments in education,” said Julia Rosen, associate vice provost. “We hope that this program is just the first of many to come."
Written by Samantha Pell, ASU News
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