Eastern Washington University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 2881-2891
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
In this session we present a case study of one novice English teacher in Chile attempting to use ‘imported’ technologies to motivate students and improve instruction. Previously, this teacher successfully completed a teacher-education program at a university in the U.S. supported by the United States Department of State and the Chilean Ministry of Education. The goals of the program included fostering development in second language instruction and the use of newer educational technologies—both in line with the Chilean government’s goal to create a bilingual or multilingual society fluent in English. Participants—including this teacher—were provided with technologies (e.g. iPods, social bookmarking, blogging), approaches (creating optimal language learning environments), strategies and resources that have promised or have been successful in the U.S. context. Although efforts were made to ground these technologies, approaches, strategies and resources in the Chilean context via information gained through a literature review, it remained to be seen if these U.S.-exported ways of using language technologies would translate well when they met the particular challenges of the Chilean educational culture. In addition, it was unknown which elements of the professional development would be sustainable. By following the progress of the teacher at the focus of this case study, the program developers were able to discern the serious barriers experienced by Chilean teachers in their attempts to improve English teaching through the use of technologies with which they became familiar during their study in the United States.

It was found that the truly sustainable element in the professional development was the relationship developed between the program developers and the teacher. This relationship was part of a healthy community of practice and included the space for the teacher to engage in honest requests for advice and the open sharing of struggles experienced. A secondary sustainable element was the primary emphasis on effective language teaching with technology merely playing a supporting role. Despite the attempt to shape the program with, in part, limited-technology environment research, it was found that the lack of equipment and dependable internet access were experienced by the teacher as more troublesome barriers than predicted. The teacher’s lack of experience with both teaching and planning amplified these issues. In addition, the school culture in which teachers and administrators do not regularly collaborate in the same ways they often do in U.S. schools presented an unforeseen conflict in the adaptation of technologies. Finally, the case study uncovered what may be the most serious barriers for language technology adaptation: assumptions in the Chilean culture about fundamental issues such as the significance of the first language and social class in second language acquisition.
english, sustainability, replication, chile, teacher-education, digital divide.