With the implementation of a new English program throughout the country, Public Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño estimates that Mexico will achieve the first generation of bilingual students in 10 or 20 years. This is supported by civil society organizations specializing in education issues and affirms the need to continue with the objectives of the National English Program in education, which sets the bases for change.
Luis Mauricio Torres Alcocer, a researcher for the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), said, “It’s a great initiative. The National English Program that is being proposed is not new, we’ve already had a pilot program since 2009, and we implement it at the state level in some places.”
He did not reveal the results of the pilot program, but said it had a favorable design for the coordination of kindergarten through ninth grade.
“The objectives were very well communicated about what level of English should be achieved each year, and we think that it should resume,” he said.
The IMCO said that in order for the Nuño program to have the expected results, “the most important thing is to know how much will be allocated to them, what teaching needs strengthening, that English is truly compulsory and that there are evaluation mechanisms for the teachers.”
They should focus on having the ability to properly train potential English teachers in the nation’s teachers colleges, the institute said.
Torres Alcocer said that there must also be a track given to, “Children who leave elementary school and enter middle school so that they don’t return to a previous level. That would be disastrous, to miss a year in the school life of the child.”
The approach to actions implemented at the local level through a federal strategy “is probably very difficult but the state coordinators in local governments are clear about what is needed,” he said.
According to Torres Alcocer, the English coordination office began operations in 2009 as the pilot program “evolved, and began to grow until 2014 when it merged with two other programs to create a larger program, which we believe surely weakened the program institutionally.”
“It’s still difficult to know the details of (Nuño’s) program. We suppose that it’s going to be similar and if not, we should know why, what changed, how it’s going to change and know how to evaluate this new program,” he said.
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