Available courses

Since 1980s, understanding how people learn or fail to learn second/foreign languages has been the focus of research as a critical social and psycholinguistic issue. Foreign languages are of vital importance to a wide and diverse group of individuals, ranging from refugees to undergraduate and graduate students facing foreign language requirements.

Drawing extensively on empirical research and theoretical works in linguistics, sociology, education, and psychology, this course will examine the theoretical foundations and findings of second language acquisition (SLA) RESEARCH. As a result, it will be structured into four main sections: Foundations, Focus on the learner, Theoretical models of second language acquisition, and learner language. In the foundations component of the course, students will be acquainted with and explore key terminology in order to be able to understand, analyze, and explain the tenets of SLA such as constructs, hypotheses, and theories. In addition, they will be able to identify differences between first and second language acquisition along with their differing stages. In the second part of the course, the focus will be on individual differences. Therefore, we will examine the impact of age, aptitude, attitude, learning styles, personality factors, and cognitive factors on language acquisition. In the third component, we will review theoretical models of second  language acquisition focusing on the input hypothesis, the interaction hypothesis, and socio-cultural perspectives for language learning. The final component of the course will focus on learner language and in particular on the interlanguage phenomena.

This course will briefly explore the history of foreign language teaching in order to gain a deeper understanding of the origins of current methods and approaches. The course will provide opportunities to critically evaluate issues arising from core elements of ELT practice.

Participants in this course will also gain insights and a critical appreciation of the process of planning and delivering English language lessons and develop sensitivity to complex ELT contexts. They will also develop an understanding of language teaching through reflection and classroom.

This course provides participating teachers with opportunities for the acquisition and updating of the main evaluation, assessment and testing concepts and procedures, and for the development of practical working knowledge of these in second and foreign language classrooms and programs. As reflective and informed developers and judges of language evaluations, the teachers will be prepared to improve language evaluation at their workplaces by applying the knowledge gained so that evaluation practices will indeed reveal congruence among national requirements, institutional purposes, program and course goals, teaching strategies, and student abilities. The main axes of the course are: what, what for, how, and when to evaluate.  Additionally, in order to understand the changes in focus, view and appearance of evaluations, an overview of practices and tendencies will be studied. Some concepts of language will be revisited in order to better approach the definition of the construct that is to be evaluated.  The main types (summative and formative) and forms (traditional and alternative) of evaluation will be studied.  Major emphasis will be given to the qualities required for useful evaluations [the different kinds of validity (construct, content, systemic, and consequential), trustworthiness (or reliability), transparency, authenticity, interactiveness, practicality]; and to the principles (democracy and fairness) needed in evaluation practices in general.

This course seeks to enable students to develop their ability to critically evaluate academic articles and papers, including research studies, in the field of English language teaching. It centers on ways of evaluating the researchability of specific questions, the relevance of research rationales and research methods used for investigation.

This course is an introduction to the most common approaches used in EFL/ESL research, including qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods designs. We will pay particular attention to action research, to provide teachers with a reflection tool to improve their classroom practices. This course will cover topics such as: research paradigms, research designs, research problems, research questions, the role of the literature review, diagnostic evaluation of the research problem, planning research and application of an innovation to solve the problem.

During this course the students are expected to carry out the innovation stage derived from the diagnostic stage they conducted in the previous course (Research Methods). They will prepare and conduct the action/intervention stage of their project, collect and analyze the data and start putting things together as a preparation for the write-up in the final course the following semester.

This course provides an introduction to the use of technology, primarily digital, in the second language learning field. Students explore the technologies, applications and tools available and consider models for their integration into language learning and teaching.

Didactics, as an integral part of Applied Pedagogy (Mallart (n.d)), takes care of the teaching-learning processes.  Thus, it studies the type of didactic materials that should be used for the teaching-learning process to be present in the classroom. Due to the growing importance of materials development (MD, hereafter) as a research line, language teachers should look into the development of materials as both a field of study (a science), and a creative activity that has been growing for decades (Tomlinson, 2010). On the other hand, Applied Linguistics have recently identified within their domains, the development of materials as a broad open path to the study of how theses socio-cultural artefacts contribute to the process of learning and teaching languages. Currently, researchers such as Neville (1991), Timmis (2002), Bolitho (2003), McDonough (2003), Maley (2003), Pulverness (2003), Sercu and Bandura (2005), Hurst (2006), Tomlinson (2008) and Núñez, Téllez, Castellanos and Ramos (2009), to cite some, have seen in MD, a field of study that goes beyond authors’ creativity and motivation to develop didactic materials at an instructional level. MD, as a field of study, demands a scientific methodology that allows validating the efficiency, appropriateness and relevance of materials within the context of learning a language.

Based on the aforementioned insights, this course presents the development of teaching and learning materials as a scientific activity that allows language teachers to  assume a critical stance to approach the phenomenon of materials development from a more social and political viewpoints; to innovate through the development of of contextualised or customised materials that  complement textbooks or make up for the lack of them; and to  enrich their teaching practice as well as to foster the creation of better teaching and learning settings.  The course will be structured into four main components:(a) Theoretical foundations and practical insights for MD; Second Language Acquisition (SLA) Principles relevant to MD and principles for MD; authentic versus inauthentic materials in teaching of English as a foreign language (EFL, henceforth); the systematic evaluation for the selection of materials to teach EFL; and current trends in syllabus design and MD. (b) Approaches to develop materials;  addressing students' needs; the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL); approaches to the application of language learning strategies;  the role of MD both in professional and personal development and in the instructional components of research projects; (c) The use of songs, laughter and riddles in the EFL classroom and In-house  EGP and ESP materials for the teaching of English in the dual model. (d) The creation and adaptation of materials and course books for EFL and guidelines for the development of the pedagogical intervention of research projects.

Since 1994, when the Ministry of Education in Colombia established as compulsory the teaching of foreign language to children, teachers have been worried about the serious challenge it represents. University professors started to focus their curriculums to fulfill these legal expectations. This course is intented for professionals who are interested in evaluating their current practices and exploring new ways of facilitating children the learning of English. Emphasis is on child development and the implications in foreign language teaching, methodological principles to teach a L2 to children, lesson planning, strategies and techniques to promote interaction in the classroom and assessment processes. It will be structured around theoretical, practical and investigative components.

Reflective teaching is an approach which has gained significant momentum in language teaching. In his personal reflection about thirty years of TEFL/TESL, Richards (2015) contends that language teachers have moved away from a search of the perfect method and have shifted their attention to developing and exploring their own teaching through reflective teaching and action research.

Murphy (2001) points out that teachers can grow as professionals in different ways which let them look inward, both within themselves and within the courses they offer, to access information about what happens in their language classrooms. He asserts that a central reason to be interested in reflective teaching is to “gain awareness of our teaching beliefs and practices” and to learn “to see teaching differently, and to learn to take action in order to enhance the quality of learning opportunities we are able to provide in our classrooms. ”He also claims that we should spend time and energy to develop understandings if we consider our continuing needs as teachers and the needs of language learners we serve. Murphy poses three main purposes of reflective teaching (RT).

To expand one´s understanding of the teaching learning process

To expand one´s repertoire of strategic options as a language teacher

To enhance the quality of learning opportunities one is able to provide in language classrooms

The seminar in Language Teacher Education and Development introduces participants to the theoretical, practical and research-based traditions underpinning this field. Starting from a perspective on teacher education which has emerged as common ground for the preparation of teachers in diverse disciplines around the world, the seminar delves into the major pedagogical principles historically shaping the curriculum that educational institutions have put into place to support teachers’ learning and development. The aforementioned general and global perspective merges with specific and local outlooks when the seminar gravitates towards the education of Nonnative English Speaker Teachers (NNESTs) in the Colombian context. While facilitating participants’ interaction with a representative body of knowledge in the field, the seminar’s structure and dynamics engages student teachers in critical reflection aiming at the design of context-sensitive teacher education experiences.