Panama Bilingüe – Language immersion and teacher development
In 2015 Edinburgh College became one of the first institutions in the UK to be awarded a contract to train Panamanian English language teachers, as part of the Panamanian Government's "Panama Bilingüe" programme. Panama Bilingüe is a five-year programme which aims to achieve a step-change in English language competency in Panama by upskilling up to 10,000 teachers in English language and pedagogy. The programme was launched in 2014 by President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez and is run centrally through the Panamanian Ministry of Education (MEDUCA).
Edinburgh College has so far welcomed over 300 English Language teachers to Edinburgh in 15 cohorts. These have included in-service elementary and high school teachers, who follow 8-week programmes, and pre-service elementary school teachers, who follow 16-week programmes.
In addition to General English classes to improve their English Language competency, the teachers have undertaken methodology training covering topics including classroom management, teaching vocabulary, grammar presentation techniques, communicative activities, and developing skills. Participants use ideas and examples from the input sessions to develop materials and activities which they can use in their own classrooms and try out the new ideas and techniques in peer teaching assignments.
As the courses have taken place in Edinburgh, trainees have had the opportunity to observe English Language classes at Edinburgh College, to visit local schools to compare with their own teaching contexts, and to stay with homestay hosts, giving them a complete immersion experience of the language and culture of Scotland.
The project has been a great success, and Edinburgh College looks forward to receiving more teachers from Panama in the coming months.
To find out more about our Panama Bilingue project watch the video and hear from our students.