Teachers from Panama to improve their skills and knowledge at Leeds Beckett
Developed as a consequence of the Panamanian president, Juan Carlos Varela, recognising a need to improve public education and economic development in Panama, the program, launched in the UK in January 2015, has to date seen over 100 teachers study at Leeds Beckett.
Leeds Beckett was asked to tender as one of a select few UK universities following a number of visits to Panama by Phil Clements, Principal Consultant for Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Beckett, and meetings with Higher Education Institutions, the Minister of Education and Government officials, the British Ambassador and UKTI in Panama.
Now in its second year, the Panama Bilingüe programme is an eight-week course designed by the world-leading languages team at Leeds Beckett, led by Matthew Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Events, Tourism and Hospitality. The course includes classroom pedagogy, school and cultural visits and cutting edge English language teaching skills and techniques.
Speaking about the programme, Matthew said: “It’s wonderful to welcome a fourth group of Panama Bilingüe teachers. We are delighted that the Ministry of Education of Panama has again chosen Leeds Beckett as a partner in this ambitious and innovative program.
“Our tutors and their students have always enjoyed this experience, gaining insights into different cultures and practices of language education. Our visitors improve their language skills and develop strategies for teaching and managing their classes whilst also sharing their perspectives on teaching and learning with their trainers.”
Speaking about their studies, Panama students Vielka Quiroz and Marlena Espinosa said: “We are learning some amazing strategies to teach English to Panamanian students. Our teachers are the greatest British teachers; we would like to be like them. They are very organised and their lessons are very well explained.”
As part of their program, the students visited Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday 25 February where they met with the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Judith Chapman. Speaking about the visit, Victor Castillero, one of the Panamanian students, commented: “Leeds is a wonderful, modern city where you can visit different things, such as museums, cinemas, markets. I have enjoyed visiting the Civic Hall tonight and learning about its history.”
Hoping to provide Panamanians with better English so they can compete for work globally, the Panama Government seeks to train at least 2,000 teachers per year in bilingual education and prepare 20,000 high school students and 30,000 elementary students. The program includes three parts: Teacher Training, After School Program and Kids.
The Teacher Training is directed at working teachers and graduating and graduated high school students. Within this component are four activities: local training of working teachers; local training of graduating and graduated high school students; teachers sent to English speaking countries and Mixed Teacher training (when they return from training in foreign countries).
The After School Program consists of giving English classes to students in extended hours. It is directed at students from seventh grade to eleventh grade. Kids is directed to students from kindergarten to sixth grade, in order for them to participate in 10 periods of classes per week given in English, achieving partial immersion to promote regular use of the language.