Monday, November 7, 2011

My Valdivia Travelogue III

By Georgia Wyche

I’m happy and relieved to say that things have somewhat changed at UACh since my arrival and my last journal entry. Faculty members, staff and administrators are fed up with the student’s refusal to attend classes, so the president of UACh has put his foot down and has decided that the second semester will begin on November 2nd. I teach my first Applied Linguistics class on November 2nd, so I’m very curious to see what will happen.

The Chilean students seem stubborn and probably won’t give up their fight until they feel their voices are heard. Along with the second semester beginning on November 2nd, there is also a campus wide student vote on whether classes should begin or not. Regardless of the results of the student vote, the president still wants to continue with the second semester. If the students vote “no” and we continue with second semester, this just means that some students will attend classes and others will not. This whole situation is very confusing!

In the meantime, I’m still teaching English classes to professors and honors students in the morning in the Virginia Tech/UACh center. Then, I spend the afternoon working with professors in the English pedagogy department. I’ve been working with Ms. Yasna Yilorm, an English pedagogy professor and supervisor to student teachers. During the strike, I’ve been going with Ms. Yilorn to different schools in Valdivia to observe UACh student teachers teaching English. It’s been an interesting experience because I’ve been able to observe both private and public schools. From my observations, I can tell that there is a huge division between socioeconomic classes in private and public schools. I’ve also noticed that there is a big problem with classroom management and that the class sizes are outrageous in both private and public. For example, the average class size of a public school English class in Chile is approximately 45 students. The student teacher’s biggest complaint is learning how to better manage their classroom and their students. Ms. Yilorn and I are working with the student teachers and specifically giving them guidance on classroom management.

Lately, we have had several faculty meetings in the English pedagogy department in preparation for the second semester. The end is near! I’m ready to finally teach Applied Linguistics. I’ll be teaching to students in their last year to become English teachers on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Since my arrival to Valdivia, I’ve been preparing for the Applied Linguistic classes. Unfortunately, none of the students attended classes on November 2nd because of the campus wide vote.

Update: Well, the results of the student vote are in and I’m glad to say that the students voted “yes”. This means that the students want to begin the second semester. I feel more relieved and look forward to teaching and meeting all of my applied linguistics students next Tuesday.

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