Bilingual Panama: EFL Teacher Perceptions, Study Abroad in an Immersion Environment

Dalys Vargas
2017 Journal of Language Teaching and Research  
In 2014, the newly inaugurated Government of Panama launched the Panamá Bilingüe initiative, considering that sustainable development demanded taking emergency measures to improve the teaching of English in public schools. The program is designed to impact at least 250,000 students in a five-year period, gradually training approximately ten thousand pre-service and experienced English teachers. Using a narrative inquiry method, twelve teachers who sojourned for eight weeks in the United States,
more » ... the United States, England, and Scotland under the program were interviewed after their return, to study their perceptions of the benefits and challenges of cultural and linguistic immersion on EFL teacher development, and how it specifically affected their teaching skills. The teachers appreciated practicing English in an immersion environment, learned new teaching techniques, and reflected on their prior knowledge and practices. Nevertheless, they felt that the ESL approach prevalent at the host universities responds to needs that differ from those they deal with in Panama, where the low proficiency of primary school teachers and inadequate school facilities are major obstacles to teaching and learning English.
doi:10.17507/jltr.0804.05 fatcat:m2q4njbt3za5ljt5qo7klprjtm