From Chile to Europe: A Student’s Story

Roxana Sánchez from El Colegio Pumahue Huechuraba in Santiago was one of 24 students from Cognita’s nine schools in Chile who took part in a six-week ExPro academic and cultural exchange to the UK and Spain in March 2014. She particularly liked having a British Cognita student as a buddy. “We ended up being very good friends,” says Roxana. “My buddy helped me so much and made sure I never felt lost or alone.” Describing the exchange experience as “excellent, spectacular,” Roxana says: “I loved it all. The place, the weather, the new experience, it was all an adventure. Everything was so different, so beautiful, so new, and the challenge of arriving there and having to speak English…the teachers made me feel accepted. It was not a problem if you failed with some words in English, the important thing for them was that you spoke. What mattered was that you integrated and I loved it.”

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English language teaching from Spain to Chile

Teaching English in Early Years is an established specialism at The British School of Barcelona (BSB). A project with Cognita’s schools in Chile has enabled BSB staff to share their excellent practice and help raise standards of English language teaching. “It was something that the Chile staff wanted to focus on but they recognised the need to develop their skills and pedagogical knowledge in this area,” says Judy Dean, Deputy Head of Early Years and Primary. “They wanted input from us on our immersive approach.” Judy and Early Years practitioner Emma McMilllan spent five days training 50 teachers, combining theory with practical activities. Emma led a model lesson with the teachers ‘as students’ to demonstrate group work and introduced a more informal approach to language learning.

"We talked about using play as a medium of learning, choosing a theme the children could relate to, like ‘My House’ or ‘Shopping’, and setting play-based activities around it to explore language.” After they returned to Barcelona, the Chile teachers posted pictures on Facebook showing how they had applied the training, with shots of children role-playing with a small house and learning everyday words. The project, which originated in work done by BSB staff with Expro, Cognita’s exchanges arm, received glowing feedback from those who took part, says Judy. “We felt it was very worthwhile and would love to support the next stage of development.”

Read how Cognita is helping develop teachers in Chile

Through a partnership with seven universities, Cognita’s nine schools in Chile are helping develop the next generation of teachers. The programme began in 2005 and since then seven universities throughout the country have participated in the initiative involving Cognita’s Chile schools. Every year between up to 12 trainee teachers undertake placements in each school.

During their placements, the trainees receive support from Cognita teachers. “The trainee teachers enter our classrooms and develop their pedagogical knowledge by sharing ideas and best practice with highly experienced teachers. “The main advantage is that the trainees learn in schools which obtain excellent results in national examinations, and therefore stand out as beacons of excellence in teaching and learning in Chile,” Marcos added. The school students also benefit from this programme. “Trainee teachers use up-to-date knowledge in their specialisms to support our student’s learning.” Feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive. “They say that they have learnt a significant amount in a short space of time thanks to the opportunity that our schools provide to accelerate their professional development.” According to Marcos, as well as the high standards in teaching and learning, Cognita schools also stand out from others in Chile for their approach to student tracking. “Tracking is a great tool which is used on an individual basis with students and their families. It ensures commitment from the school and the student along with their family so that they advance together in the learning process. “To achieve this Cognita and our schools work collaboratively to develop tracking for the benefit of our students as part of our commitment to their learning.”

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