Local September 14, 2019 | 6:51 am

Association of English Teachers of the Dominican Republic (RD-TESOL) affirms the greatest educational failure in DR is not learning English

Professor Conrado Sánchez Learning English is vital to the future of the DR

The Association of English Teachers of the Dominican Republic (RD-TESOL) showed concern that there is still no real English language learning policy in public schools throughout the country, which has become the factor that shows the greatest educational failure of the Dominican government.

The president of the entity, Professor Conrado Sánchez, proposed that public education centers in the country actually require a linguistic policy that is based on an adequate and contextualized diagnosis.

“The regional experience shows that any school program or educational strategy without a policy that guarantees its continuity will face a negative result. Therefore, it is essential that the Ministry of Education guarantees English language plans and programs for students, especially from the primary level,” he said.

Similarly, the president of RD-TESOL considered that the necessary and adequate educational materials and resources for teaching should be available; as well as enough teachers and quality control systems that would allow fulfilling the task efficiently.

Sanchez said the government’s biggest educational failure is not teaching English in public schools because the English language subject has been in the public school curriculum officially since 1961.

“Since 1994, when the teaching of this language was introduced in the second cycle of the primary level, our students receive hundreds of hours of English in their school life, without acquiring even a basic level of language proficiency in that language. This really shows the lack of an effective and efficient educational policy,” he said.

He argued that the government has not defined a true policy of teaching English although it has been claimed for years by teachers in the area, by the Permanent Education Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, by the productive sectors and by more than 70% of Dominican families, who send their children to public schools because they do not have the financial resources to pay for a private bilingual education.

“The relevance and importance of this issue require serious attention by the Ministry of Education since our students deserve a quality education, appropriate to the needs of this era, in which English operates as a frank language in the sectors of the economy, business, education, politics, and entertainment—all aspects of international finance and the main language of communication throughout the world,” he proclaimed.

He added that the majority of research shows that there is a positive correlation between the level of English proficiency and the gross national income per capita of the countries, where improving English skills increases wages, which increases investment.

With this, he said that it is possible to predict that countries that achieve greater command of the English language will grow faster in the future, improving their quality of life after school.

“In general, world experts agree that bilingualism should ideally begin in childhood. Therefore, it is essential for our country to have an efficient English teaching-learning program from the primary level and not only in adulthood, which has been the commitment of the Dominican government for 14 years, through its so-called “Program Immersion English” of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, which, as an educational policy, has ultimately not benefited more than 1%.

He recalled that in 1998, the United Nations Organization (UN) predicted that by the year 2000, those who could not speak English and use a computer would be considered “Functionally Illiterate.” Today, more than 80% of global interactions occur in English.

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