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Dartmouth's summer workshop for Mexican teachers sees results

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 06/30/09 • Media Contact: Latarsha Gatlin
(603) 646-3661

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Bruce Sacerdote
John Rassias, developer of the Rassias Method of language instruction.  (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Podcast: Mexican teachers learn better English for economic development, with John Rassias and Jim Citron
From July 12 through July 23, a group of public school teachers from Mexico will be at Dartmouth learning new and more dynamic ways to teach English to their own students at home.

Dartmouth's Rassias Center, in partnership with the non-governmental organization Worldfund, Mexico City-based Bécalos, and Nextel de México have joined forces to form the Inter-American Partnership for Education (IAPE) Teachers' Collaborative, which is bringing the workshops back to Hanover. The program will begin July 12 and will involve more than 10 hours of workshops and activities each day at Dartmouth. Most of these activities are taking place at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL). The visiting teachers will stay in residential housing and participate in conversation with Dartmouth faculty and other educators during meals on campus.

Worldfund recently sponsored an independent study of the effectiveness of the program and program officials are seeing positive results. Aseguramiento de la Calidad en la Educación y en el Trabajo, S.C. (ACET), a Mexico City-based evaluation firm, conducted the comprehensive evaluation of the program's impact. The study found over 8,900 students throughout Mexico to be directly impacted by the first year of the program.

The study found significant increases in the amount of time students spent speaking English in class, the number of teachers collaborating with colleagues in the design of classroom activities, and the number of teachers who discuss their classroom experiences with other teachers. ACET also found that teachers reported changing their teaching practices to incorporate the techniques they learned in the program and demonstrated more confidence in their ability to teach English.

ACET received its results by administering questionnaires to last year's 40 participants at three key moments: before the program, immediately after leaving Hanover and seven months after they had returned to their communities; and by conducting two comprehensive focus group discussions in October 2008

"The data provided by ACET confirms what those of us who live and breathe this program every day already know: that the process works and we can help make vast improvements in the professional lives of our Mexican colleagues and, therefore, with students," said Helene Rassias-Miles, executive director of the Rassias Center. "The more teachers we work with both at Dartmouth and in Mexico, the more young people we will reach for the betterment of the country."

Nearly 40 teachers from Mexico are participating in a summer English language program at the Rassias Center.
Nearly 40 teachers from Mexico are participating in a summer English language program at the Rassias Center. The students are learning more dynamic ways to teach English to their students in their home country. The two week program ends on July 23. (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

IAPE, a Clinton Global Initiative commitment, aims to substantially improve the quality of English language instruction in Mexico's public schools and universities. This summer's program is the second year of a three-year commitment with CGI.

"What we're trying to do is more than just educate the teachers on how to teach English to their students," said Jim Citron, Dartmouth Class of '86, an intercultural educator and director of the program. "We want to give them the tools to reach out and collaborate with each other to improve English instruction in their own country. That's what makes this a ‘partnership" and that's what makes it sustainable."

In addition to 40 hours of workshops and seminars taught by Dartmouth faculty and other area educators, attendees of the program are taught the Rassias Method®, developed in the 1960s by Dartmouth Professor John Rassias, which allows students to quickly grasp a foreign language. The method involves fast-paced drills of students' oral language skills and emphasizes cultural education. The Rassias Method has been used to train more than 165,000 Peace Corps volunteers, as well as countless students and teachers throughout the world, many of them attending the Accelerated Language Programs (ALPs) the Rassias Center runs at Dartmouth each summer.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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Last Updated: 7/21/09