Why Loreto Aliaga Salas Thinks “Awareness” Should Be the 2011 Academic Word of the Year

October 18, 2011, 0 comments, on AWOY2011, Academic Vocabulary

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a·ware·ness [uh-wair-nis]

noun
the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness

 

In the U.S., NCLB mandates, budget cuts, and ever-present job insecurity have created a school culture filled with hyper-stressed and over-worked educators - ones who often have student assessment at the forefront of their minds.
 

But for Loreto A. Salas, who works with TEFL students in Chile, even more important is making sure her students have a continual “awareness” of their own strengths and weaknesses. A University of Denver study has shown that students who are informed of their role in learning and the consequences of their decisions are more likely to be invested in their own education.

 

I chose 'awareness' because I think it is highly relevant that students become participants of their own learning and be conscious of their progress and those areas they need to improve.
 

Ms. Aliaga shared the reasons behind her Academic Word of the Year submission, how she uses portfolios when teaching writing, and what she believes is the greatest challenge facing English learners today.
 

Please share a little about your professional background.
I am a teacher of English and I hold a MA in TEFL from Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Santiago Chile. I am currently the academic coordinator of the TEFL programme at Universidad Alberto Hurtado, where I teach reading and writing. My areas of interest are writing for EFL students, inclusion in the classroom and the impact of professional development in students' learning. I am also part of the TESOL Chile board since 2008.
 

Why should “awareness” be the Academic Word of the Year?
I chose 'awareness' because I think it is highly relevant that students become participants of their own learning and be conscious of their progress and those areas they need to improve.
 

I work with portfolios in writing to raise the level of awareness in future teachers of English, and it has been fruitful to see how they now realize what they need to work on and how they have made progress. As I work with future teachers of English, learning academic vocabulary makes them ready to understand and broaden their own content knowledge and ready to participate in academic discussions related to our EFL field.
 

What has been your greatest challenge in teaching English learners?
My greatest challenge has been working with undergraduate students with poor backgrounds in English and taking them to an intermediate level in a very short period of time. I think it is different teaching ESP or General English students than teaching future teachers of English [because] they have to develop a different set of skills such as critical thinking and language awareness, so they are able to transmit them in their future classrooms. 

 

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References:
“Awareness.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House,

Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/awareness (Accessed: October

16, 2011).

 

 

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