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March 2007

ASOCOPI

ASOCOPI - Calle 25 No. 32-32 1er piso. Bogot, Colombia - Tel/fax: (571) 2444167 e-mail: asocopi@yahoo.com - www.asocopi.org

newsletter
Nancy Villamizar from the Instituto Tcnico Mercedes Abrego, who will serve as ASOCOPI Spokesperson Gabriel Obando from the Universidad de Nario, who will serve as ASOCOPI VicePresident Carlos Rico from the Universidad Javeriana, Bogot, who will serve as ASOCOPI Treasurer Melba Libia Crdenas from the Universidad Nacional, Bogot, who will serve as ASOCOPI President The new Board of Directors reaffirms its commitment to the Colombian academic community in the area of ELT and totally supports the original mission statement of the association. In order to fulfil the objectives of ASOCOPI, you are cordially invited to continue supporting the endeavours that have been made during the last years and that have helped the association become stronger and more recognized as an academic, serious and participative professional organization as well as a relevant and important space that promotes scholarship, programs, research, materials, academic debates, and initiatives. I also want to welcome Professor Alvaro Quintero, of the Universidad Distrital Francisco Jos de Caldas, who has kindly accepted to edit our newsletter. His support has been evident as a member of the HOW Journal Advisory Board, as a presenter in several ASOCOPI conferences, and as one of the reviewers of the academic committee in charge of the evaluation of proposals sent to our last two conferences. Finally, the Board of Directors, on behalf of the Association, wants to thank two people who were and hopes they will continue to be vital in the making of the current position of ASOCOPI in the academic panorama. These people are Ricardo Romero and Rigoberto Castillo, who comprised part of the board of Directors for several years and devoted endless hours to the enrichment and betterment of the ELT of ASOCOPI. Their commitment and contributions are very much appreciated. ASOCOPI will keep on offering opportunities for teacher professional development through the organization of conferences and seminars as well as through the publications that have traditionally been relevant references for Colombian teachers of English, namely, HOW Journal, ET Forum and ASOCOPI Newsletter. In addition, you are invited to visit the ASOCOPI website in order to learn about other events, the Special Interest Groups, how to become an ASOCOPI member and other interesting information. Best wishes, Melba Libia Crdenas, ASOCOPI President

Letter from the President


Dear ASOCOPI members, friends and stakeholders, We are glad to share with you the latest news of the Association in regards to its governmental and administrative organization. As you might know, the General Assembly of ASOCOPI, held during the 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference that was carried out from October 13-16, 2006, in Ibagu, brought some changes to the Board of Directors of the Association.
After a comprehensive report given by the former BOD members concerning the academic, financial, and administrative matters during the last year, a new structure for the Board of Directors was presented to the current ASOCOPI members attending the assembly. In accordance with the ASOCOPI by-laws, and after hearing the professional profiles and proposals of the people who were nominated, members voted and accepted the following professors to be part of the Board of Directors: Adriana Gonzlez from the Universidad de Antioquia, who will serve as ASOCOPI Secretary

Report on the 41st Annual Conference


From October 13-16, 2006, the 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference took place in the beautiful city of Ibagu, Colombia. The Champagnat School offered its campus for over 900 participants to enjoy the different activities programmed during this event, which validated the ASOCOPI Convention as the biggest and most important forum in Colombia for the ELT community.
The main topic of the conference Language Policies and Classroom Realities: Bridging the Gap was developed during the 4-day event in 10 plenary sessions, 2 panel sessions, 1 coplenary session, and over 70 workshops and awareness presentations, which structured the academic program. Additionally, there were interesting cultural activities such as the play Pirates Island by The Argentine theatre troupe, The Performers, as well as the presentations of native musical groups and dances, which introduced participants to the culture and traditions of El Tolima, a central part of Colombia. The conference served as a forum for different actors involved in Colombian language policies to present their viewpoints with regards to the application of national programs to the classroom realities present in our country. At a time when the National Bilingual Program is being implemented and the standards for Foreign Languages are launched, plenary sessions, concurrent sessions and, particularly, the panels at ASOCOPI Conference presented the pros and cons of the official plans for achieving bilingualism in Colombia. In order to fulfil the aim of the conference to be a forum for different perspectives, the following Colombian speakers presented their views in plenary sessions: Melba Libia Crdenas (Universidad Nacional de Colombia); Ricardo Romero (Cambridge University Press); Rosa Maria Cely (Plan Nacional de Bilingismo); Alvaro Quintero (Distrital University); Adriana Gonzlez (University of Antioquia); Aida Salamanca (British Council consultant); and Silvia Valencia (University of Quindo). Most plenary speakers were also invited to answer the questions asked by participants during the panels with regards to the implementation of the bilingualism program.

On the other hand, international speakers such as Edythe Johnson Holubec (sponsored by the U.S Embassy), Jenny Dooley (Express Publishing), Manuel dos Santos (McGraw-Hill), Arlen Gargagliano (Cambridge University Press), JoEllen Simpson (Richmond), Nick Perkins (Pearson) and Costas Pexos (MM Publications) also enriched the conference with topics as varied as teaching writing, brain-based studies applied to language teaching and learning, cooperative learning, teaching grammar in context, among others. The annual conference would not have been as successful as it was without the participation of the publishing houses that filled the 20-stand area of the book exhibit and presented the latest materials, textbooks, books, programs and technologies for teaching and learning English.

Furthermore, this conference had an impact on the governance of the Association since changes and new positions in the National Board of Directors were presented during the Annual ASOCOPI Assembly. A big thank you goes to Dr. Rigoberto Castillo who formed part of the BOD for several years and served as President during the last 9 months. The following is the new structure of the Board: Melba Libia Crdenas, Universidad Nacional de Colombia - President; Gabriel Obando, Universidad de Nario - Vice President; Carlos Rico, Universidad Javieriana - Treasurer; Adriana Gonzlez, Universidad de Antioquia - Secretary; Nancy Villamizar, Universidad Francisco de Paula Santander - Spokesperson

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The 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference reaffirmed the commitment of the Colombian Association of Teachers of English to the professional development of teachers as well as to the improvement of the teaching of English in Colombia by offering academic and wide spaces where everyone involved can make his/her voice be heard. Learn more about this event and the Association by visiting the website www.asocopi.org. We also want to invite our colleagues from Colombia and other parts of the world to send their contributions to our newsletter as well as to How, our annual journal. The following is the detailed report of the answers given by attendees who

responded to the general evaluation sheet of the conference. We really appreciate their comments as they are vital in maintaining the quality of the Annual Conference and in detecting the areas that still need improvement:
Evaluation Criteria:
TA, Totally Agree; A, Agree; D, Disagree; SD, Strongly Disagree; DK/NR: Do not Know / No Response.
Prior to the event: Complete information about the event that could be found in the website. TA: 54,3% - A: 40% - D: 0% - SD: 2,9% - DK/NR: 2,8% I learned about the event in a timely manner. DK/NR: 0% - TA: 74,3% - A: 25,7% - D: 0% - SD: 0% The registration form was easy to find TA: 71,4% - A: 28,6% - D: 0% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 0% I was able to register without difficulties TA: 82,9% - A: 17,1% - D: 0% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 0%

The Central Office in Bogot responded to inquiries promptly and efficiently TA: 42%- A: 52% - D: 6% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 0% On site registration was fast and efficient TA: 65,7% - A: 28,6% - D: 2,9% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 2,8% Academic program contributed to my professional development TA: 51,4% - A: 40% - D: 8,6% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 0% Cultural activities were interesting and fun TA: 45,7% - A: 42,9% - D: 8,6% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 2,8% The overall program fulfilled my expectations TA: 34,3% - A: 51,4% - D: 14,3% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 0% The schedule was convenient and presentations were punctual TA: 20% - A: 45,7% - D: 28,6% - SD: 5,7% - DK/NR: 0% General logistics met my expectations TA: 22,9% - A: 48,6% - D: 28,5% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 0% The book exhibit was well organized TA: 54,3% - A: 37,1% - D: 8,6% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 0% Volunteers were effective in solving my problems TA: 28,6% - A: 57,1 - D: 14,3% - SD: 0% - DK/NR: 0%

During the event: -

From the Editor

2007Newsletter!
lvaro H. Quintero Polo, M.A., Distrital University
Very gladly we are presenting the Colombian ELT community with this years first ASOCOPI Newsletter. After our massive 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference in the warm city of Ibague, we have been able to compile some information that both the readers who attended and those who could not make it to the Conference may find useful as regards the conformation of the new Board of Directors (BOD), the address of the new ASOCOPI President, Professor Melba Libia Crdenas; the summaries of five plenary sessions that serve as pointers for reflection and practice kindly written by their authors, one short article on academic issues, the report on the evaluation of the last Conference, and additional information on events, sponsors, and the ELT directory. Lastly, we would like to acknowledge the contribution of people and institutions that appear in this Newsletter. We would also like to take this opportunity to encourage every stakeholder of our Association to contribute to our HOW Journal or our Newsletter, make suggestions on our website, and participate in our Special Interest Groups (SIGs). This constitutes a way for ASOCOPI to successfully represent the interests of its members. Sincerely, lvaro H. Quintero Polo, M.A., Newsletter Editor

Welcome to our first

ASOCOPI
Melba Libia Crdenas President Gabriel Vicente Obando Vice-President Carlos Rico T roncoso Troncoso Treasurer Adriana Gonzlez Secretary Nancy Villamizar Spokesperson lvaro Hernn Quintero Editor in Chief Csar Vivas Valderrama Design, and Graphic Process Edwin Martnez Office Manager Randal Barfield Reviewer

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ASOCOPI Mission Statement


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Improve the practice of English language teaching. Strengthen the sense of identity of language teachers through membership in a professional organization. Promote the exchange of ideas, resources, information, and experiences between language teachers on a national level as well as at an international level. Promote high levels of education and professional development of university students, in the field of foreign language teaching. Provide opportunities of continued professional development of teachers. Encourage research in the area of foreign language teaching and learning. Provide a forum for the introduction and exchange of new ideas and practices and for the production of educational material. Encourage a high level of education and professionalism among its members. Provide a consultative and advisory road in the development of educational innovations, English for Special Purposes, Applied Linguistics, Material Development, and Academic Programs at the primary, secondary and university levels. Stimulate the cooperation of mutual support among language teachers. Organize support activities for the development and maintenance of linguistic abilities of non-native students and teachers.

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FROM ELT PROFESSIONALS

What English Teachers Want To Know


Key Teacher Development Topics For 2007
Larry M. Lynch - Santiago de Cali University

Learning Disabilities Virtual EFL Teaching Preparing Evaluations Reading Comprehension

Training Program Providers Local universities may have programs or experienced, Teacher Trainers available. National and regional teacher organizations may also be called upon to offer recommendations for INSET programs and materials. The Internet, TEFL websites like www.tefl.com, www.eslbase.com and others are also good sources for locating programs, materials and Language Training Consultants who can provide needed input for teacher development initiatives. Finally, a stepped-up program of technical reading, ELT online forum participation and in-house discussions can likewise be of aid in upgrading the level of English teacher interest and involvement in advanced training in ELT topics. Trade P ublications: Publications:

The Problem When a group of English as a foreign language teachers was surveyed as to what topic areas most interested them, a surprising variety of Topic areas emerged. As with a growing number of ELT professionals, there is a continuing need for training and development. Many teachers, though wanting to expand their current boundaries, have neither the time, interest nor resources to pursue a higher degree nor effectuate a full return to formal education.
The answer, in part, may well be for savvy administrators to schedule a series of well-planned, in-depth English teacher training workshops and seminars beyond what may be available locally or regionally from such organizations as TESOL (www.tesol.org), IATEFL (www.iatefl.org), ASOCOPI (www.asocopi.org ), and the British Council (www.britishcouncil.org), among others. There are many other options that could also be explored. The T opics Topics The following are the key teacher training topics which consistently emerge as

preferred areas of interest for progressive educators: Short Class Activities Using Drama EFL Learning Games Vocabulary Development Techniques Listening Comprehension Using Short Stories Giving Presentations Creating Materials Using Art & Pictures EFL Teacher Certification Using Songs Writing Skills

The Need for INSET Each area is pertinent in its own right and care should be taken to provide an extensive variety of themes in any program of INSET (in-service training) that wellmeaning administrators may undertake. As standards for English Language Teaching develop and improve worldwide, increasing pressure on tenured teachers will cause a growing need for in-house teacher training programs that introduce new techniques and English language teaching concepts as well as that update English teachers on new language acquisition theories and reinforce sound language teaching practices. Additional T opics of Interest Topics Some additional topics of interest to a lesser, but more experienced group of English language teachers were these areas:

Technology & Learning (www.techlearning.com) English Teaching Professional (http://www.etprofessional.com/) English Language Teaching Forum (http://www.eltforum.com/) ESL Magazine (http://www.eslmag.com/) Internet TESL Journal (http://iteslj.org/) Its-teachers (http://www.its-teachers.com/) Modern English Teacher online (http://www.onlinemet.com/) Oxford ELT Journal (http://www.oxfordjournals.org/eltj/)

These options can assist you in planning a personal improvement program. They could also aid in providing guidance for the establishment of a faculty development series of English language teacher training workshops and seminars

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KEYNOTE SPEECH - At the 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference


the teaching of grammar and writing, brainbased learning in an EFL context, and cooperative learning. Also, classroom-based experiences reported by teachers and researchers can give us ideas for effective teaching practices. Can a monolingual country provide enough outside practice? Can students speak a language with only two hours of instruction?

Bridging the Gap


Melba Libia Crdenas B. - Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Language Policies and Classroom Realities:

Ibagu, October 13, 2006 ASOCOPI welcomes national and international presenters, prospective teachers, teacher educators, researchers, school teachers, programme administrators, and publishers. Professionals from different contexts and with diverse backgrounds gather in this event to socialize what we do and think. Our presence here evidences our interest in the English language teaching area. Our presence here also shows that we agree on the importance of strengthening English proficiency at all educational levels.
The challenges we face nowadays pose key issues in language teaching and teacher education, and support the need to revise how we teach English, in which circumstances, and for what real purposes. Likewise, in the area of teacher education, it is necessary to know with whom we can work to help learners achieve higher proficiency levels and to take advantage of what has been investigated in the teaching profession. It is also important to consider how we are pursuing teacher preparation. In order to reach higher proficiency levels in English language teaching and learning, three

important actions have been prioritised for our country: the definition of standards, examinations, and teacher preparation. Schools and universities welcome the idea of placing teacher education at the cornerstone of the bilingual Colombia programme, but we cannot deny that there are doubts and concerns about policies and the teaching conditions needed to achieve the defined goals. First of all, using the term bilingualism does not represent or match what we have in our Colombian context. As examined by Colombian and international teachers and researchers, talking about bilingualism implies thinking about a number of sociological and linguistic reasons. I am sure these reasons, or at least some of them, will be discussed in this conference. Something similar has happened in several national and local conferences and symposia held in the last three years in our country and in international scenarios. In our search for professional development, we have done our best to organize a programme with a variety of presentations around the topic of this years conference: Language Policies and Classroom Realities: Bridging the Gap. In our latest newsletter we raise questions that can draw our attention towards issues that will be addressed in this conference. The following questions are often posed when we reflect upon our challenges and responsibilities as teachers of English. These questions were posed by Dr. Kent Sutherland in conferences organised by ASOCOPI and sponsored by the American Embassy: Can Colombian students learn English effectively in a classroom?

The second and third questions are connected with the conditions we have to ensure policy implementation. In professional conferences like the second international symposium on bilingualism and bilingual education in Latin America held last week in Bogot, as well as in local seminars and conferences, we have wondered if it is possible to provide enough opportunities to practice the language outside the classroom. Authentic bilingualism does not happen inside all our classrooms or in the academic world. Real bilingualism should expand to the whole community. Given the fact that it is necessary to create all the conditions to help people to use languages in real contexts, we need to revise school policies as well as our teaching practices. Plenary sessions on what is proposed by the national bilingual programme can give us the chance to hear what the Ministry of Education has decided for our country. Those presentations, together with the concurrent sessions that focus on the alternatives some teachers use in local contexts, can make us think if bilingualism, the term that has been used to name foreign language policies, is appropriate. We know that bilingualism happens in authentic contexts, with languages in contact, as in the case of indigenous communities of our country. Let us then start revising not only the name of the so called bilingual programme, but the goals and the means being used to achieve said goals. Can teachers guarantee effective learning with very large groups?

This first question can lead us to the sessions on how we can accelerate our students learning,

The last question draws our attention towards teacher preparation. I want to recognize the contribution of the university teachers who have actively worked in the English programmes and in the preparation of teachers. This year we have an increased participation of presenters who will let us know what is being done in teacher preparation. We cannot deny that lack of teacher

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preparation has been one of the main concerns in education and that it has been used to gain publicity in mass media or to attract markets. We need more opportunities to develop professionally. Secretaras de educacin, universities, publishers, embassies, cultural agencies, and ASOCOPI, among others, have invested time and materials to contributing to teachers updating. They are not enough, but efforts have been recognized. In the area of teacher education, we will have to get information on teacher education models and actions being implemented in our country. Our conference will give us the chance to reflect upon how teachers and teacher educators perceive the design and implementation of language policies as well as the preparation of teachers. Some sessions will raise the reasons for using examinations; others will question the obsession for examinations that concentrate on numbers rather than on alternative assessment and evaluation. Some presentations will illustrate how some universities are replicating international programmes in different Colombian contexts; others will present experiences that have been created and led by local academics. These experiences will explain why they consider that we should go beyond the perspective of training teachers to take an international exam. ASOCOPI, in tune with the philosophy of social responsibility, cares for the inclusion of different perspectives. If we want to bridge the gap between language policies and classroom realities, we have to hear what project managers and practitioners have to say. It is very likely that we will not end this conference with the magic formula to bridge that gap. But the different plenary and concurrent sessions are valuable forums to explore that possibility. ASOCOPI promotes academic discussion of ELT issues. It is not about information as regards what we do and not being open to questions, constructive criticism and recommendations. Do not get upset if other people do not share or agree with what you do, say, teach, investigate, or sell. Let us keep in mind that the arguments

for and against the scope of policies, practices and products do not necessarily imply criticism. Let us remember that contradictions are signals of other teachers concerns and interest to contribute to the achievement of local and national goals. Blaming contradictors by saying that they do not know what we do, think or say or ignoring them shows you do not have solid evidence or arguments to engage in real academic debates. Or perhaps, that we do not have enough preparation. After all, we are teachers and students. Let us keep in mind that other views and arguments might be based on experiences, research, publications, and participation in diverse projects. I hope this conference gives you the chance to examine implications at different levels. I do believe that in order to gain more credibility and collaboration in policymaking and implementation, we should bear in mind the social or cultural benefits language policies have, rather than only the political and economical reasons that are often used to justify what is being done or what is planned to be done. We should also be careful with the real contexts we have for language learning so that we do not create false expectations. In the area of implications, it is fair to talk about other foreign languages. I would like to invite you to consider the place other foreign languages have in language policies. We teachers of English might feel very happy because this language has been given more attention in all education levels. Nonetheless, we cannot make the mistake of ignoring the importance of other codes of communication. If we defend diversity and tolerance, let us be coherent and respect what other disciplines have been doing. We cannot refer to bilingual programmes when emphasis is placed on monolingual education, that is to say, when we are giving more attention to the English language, when we are not working hand in hand with the Spanish area. As Anne-Marie de Meja stresses in an article published this year in the Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, it is important to pay attention to the voices of

Colombian academics who are warning against an exclusive concern with one language of power and prestige, however important it may be on the international stage. A multicultural and multilingual nation needs a language policy which takes into account a globalised world as well as our local complexities. In addition, I want to refer to the risks a topdown policy development approach might have. Several conferences and academic papers have documented why similar projects to the ones being created in our country have not been successful. Projects that started in Europe and in other contexts similar to ours, with top-down perspectives, with little or no attention to what teachers think and feel, have been reported in academic publications. Let us learn from other countries lessons. Rather than considering only one way of thinking and implementing language policy, let us recognise different international perspectives and local expertise. Recognising local expertise does not mean listening to or working only with the people who do what we say or who agree with us. Recognising local expertise means respecting and having the courage to admit the viability of other peoples ways of thinking and doing things. This will surely contribute to stronger networking. This is my invitation to project managers, programme administrators, and to the advisors or representatives of the Ministry of Education: Let us remember that openness and stronger school and university participation are needed to guarantee success in English language teaching. Let us remember that different voices, experiences, and perspectives will surely contribute to the discussion of language policies and to the so-called bilingualism goals. In brief, let us keep in mind what Graddol says in his latest study, English Next: There is no single way of teaching English, no single way of learning it, no single motive for doing so, no single syllabus or textbook and, indeed, no single variety of English which provides the target of learning.
Graddol, D. (2006). English next. British Council, p. 82.

Welcome to our 41st conference and let us continue working hard for a better education in Colombia.

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PLENARY - At the 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference

The Place of Language Teachers Decision Making

then, becomes a mandatory activity at this level. The representatives of the Ministry of Education represent the very Ministry but seldom do they represent the teachers in Colombian schools. Spreading some information that is mandated from above is what characterizes their unwary participation. Contrary to this, I must highlight the emergence of research agendas proposed by some Colombian teachers as a valid and transformative alternative for the work of foreign applied linguists. For instance, an initial emphasis on the instrumental and instructional dimensions of those research agendas is perceived in projects of curriculum, syllabus or materials design reported in theses or monographs in teacher education programs in Colombian universities. This initial emphasis has evolved from instrumental to critical since one now sees that research projects consider social and cultural issues explored in educational settings through the implementation of instructional proposals. This sensitivity to the social and cultural life of educational communities in Colombia is also appreciated in publications prepared by Colombian teacher researchers for Colombian educators. The third level at which decisions are made about language teaching, the lowest level, is that of the classroom. The contribution here is psychological, and is concerned with how people learn languages other than their native ones. But many other considerations play a part: general pedagogical principles concerned with motivation, attitudes, intelligence and personality. These are largely non-linguistic, and are just as important in the teaching of other subjects as in the teaching of languages. Traditionally, teachers have been regarded as those in charge of making decisions about instructional activities and materials with the supervision of specialists (i.e. applied linguists). Fortunately, there are ways to show that there are Colombian teachers who have started to go beyond what is merely instructional. They see instruction not as a skillbased end but as the means through which they can make sense of phenomena that constitute life issues. Those teachers, or better called, teacher researchers, are the ones who can move up to a second level. They account for their practices from inside the same practices. Turning to a critical view of the Governments initiative of implementing a bilingual program in Colombia, let us first see the facts: This initiative is politically and economically oriented. It is

in the Hierarchy of Planning Functions in the Language-Teaching Operation


lvaro Quintero Polo, M.A. - Universidad Distrital Francisco Jos de Caldas

The question who decides what language to teach and to whom inspired me for this presentation because of its relation to the topic of planning functions, or what from now on I will call decision-making, in the ongoing Bilingual Program in Colombia. I also intended to make my point about the need of research agendas that can be initiated by actors at all levels, but especially by language teachers, in order to inform their decisions and to make their voices (and through their voices the voices of thousands of students) be heard by those who represent all the levels in the hierarchy of planning functions in the language-teaching operation in Colombia.
In relation to the above, Corder indicates that decisions are made at various levels. The actors and activities in each level can be interpreted, bearing in mind the Colombian case, as follows: In Colombia, the actors at a political level, the top level, are representatives of the Ministry of Education; they are expected to be educators or at least to have had some teaching experience. They mandate what language to teach and to whom to teach that language. The decisions at this level are usually influenced by

external factors associated with economic agreements. Furthermore, the decisions at this level are usually supported by showing statistics that meet the terms of external agents and that mislead the attention of practitioners. Voices of those involved in educational practices in the Colombian territory do not necessarily constitute any influence for their decisions. One may think that linguistics has no contribution to make at this level. This is quite true for the Colombian case. Especially if one sees that the relevance that conducting sociolinguistic studies has as the basis for policy making that determines what language to teach in the educational system and the role of different languages in the political and commercial life of the community and its contacts in the world outside is overlooked. This is an area of linguistic studies known as language planning that seems to be of little relevance at the Colombian political level. At the linguistic and sociolinguistic level, the middle level, the actors, according to Corder, are applied linguists. However, applied linguists in the area of ELT in Colombia are almost nonexistent. Traditionally, knowledge resulting from research done by well-known applied linguists such as Corder, Kaplan, Hymes, among many others, has come from abroad for the consumption and replication of Colombian teachers. This has marked a tendency to take foreign educational models for granted. This has also served as ways of validating the decisions made at the level above. As an illustration of this, the Ministry of Education through some representatives shows a deceiving academic face of an initiative that does not necessarily result from formal and systematic educational research. Research,

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related to the concepts of productivity and competitiveness. It lacks a sociolinguist framework. There are no equal conditions for the development of a mother tongue. The institutions that lead the bilingual program took as reference the Common European Framework from which they only use the levels of proficiency for the diagnostic and plan of actions. The voices of teachers have not been considered in the design of the initiative. Even though public universities were initially called to form part of the founding group, the lack of academic discussion caused withdrawal of some university representatives. The role of the universities in educating language teachers has not been fully taken into account. The professional development component is limited only to an instructional training that lacks a reflective dimension. The initiative has spread from Bogot and Cundinamarca to other regions in Colombia. Directive and instructive, rather than participatory, is the attitude of the Government and its representatives. These facts make me think that it is mandatory to assign a central role to the Colombian universities as institutions that generate knowledge. The knowledge originated in universities takes the shape of publications that can serve as reference for different activities at whatever level. Only to mention a few indexed publications in the ELT area are the following: PROFILE of the Universidad Nacional IKALA of the Universidad de Antioquia FOLIOS of the Universidad Pedaggica Nacional LENGUAJE of the Universidad del Valle COLOMBAIN APPLIED LINGUISTICS JOURNAL (CALJ) of the Universidad Distrital Francisco Jos de Caldas.

problem, language as a right and language as a resource. The implications of these orientations for practice are that language as a problem is something that needs to be eliminated through instruction. Language as a right relates to the efforts to support the students cultural identity. Language as a resource has to do with strategies to revalue, foster and develop the mother tongue for the benefit of every one in a community. These views relate to the understanding of the distinction between bilingual development and bilingual education. Consequently, the idea that the Ministry of Education promotes as regards the relation between number of hours of instruction and level of proficiency can be debated. Concluding this summary, I can only say that teachers as researchers can take the place of applied linguists, middle level, as contributors to the whole language teaching operation in Colombia. Our Colombian language education reality needs a cooperative and participatory framework. This is not the same as merely an informative tendency. As an alternative to this, I propose encouraging research by teachers as opposed to research on teachersresearch that bridges theories of critical pedagogies with actual classroom practices.

Additionally, the Governments initiative needs to consider both the causes and consequences of research processes that enlighten decision-making at all levels. About this, I can point out the expertise and willingness of teacher researchers who are members of officially recognized research groups to conduct research on aspects that can add to the development of an understanding of language as a social phenomenon, bilingual education as an activity that goes beyond language as a purpose. Among the research groups in universities I can mention the following: EALE of the Universidad de Antioquia LECTOESCRINAUTAS of the Universidad Distrital ENGLISH DIDACTICS AND TECHNOLOGY of the Universidad Distrital PROFILE of the Universidad Nacional HYPERMEDIA, EVALUATION, AND ENGLISH LEARNING of the Universidad Pedaggica Nacional

In relation to decision-making, language planning (LP) appears as something necessary but usually overlooked by policy makers. LP as a linguistic discipline contributes to making decisions about language. It acts to preserve, protect, or improve the language status in a community. It cultivates language as a social resource. There are two orientations in LP: namely, a descriptive one and a prescriptive one. These two orientations determine language views. The descriptive orientation considers language as a tool and language as a cultural means. The normative or prescriptive orientation relates to the view of language as a

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PLENARY - At the 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference PLENARY

How Can We Accelerate our Students Learning? The Origins of The Accelerated Learning Method and its Implications for Elt.
Costas Pexos - MM Publications

HOW JOURNAL
HOW Journal is receiving papers for its 2007 issue. Deadline April 14, 2007. Guidelines at: www.asocopi.org/ Publications.html

In a world where change is inevitable it is important to understand and absorb information quickly and to think logically and creatively. Accelerated Learning Programmes around the world are suggesting new ways of helping children, teenagers and adults to learn quicker and easier at school or at work. Based on research, we suggest simple ways to accelerate your students learning process and provide them with the stimulation they need. Specifically, we can mention the following points with regards to Accelerated learning in the context of foreign language learning.
Traditional Learning Rigid Sombre & serious Single-pathed Means-centered Competitive Behaviorist Verbal Controlling Materials-centered Mental (cognitive) Time-based Dave Meier

The learning environment (classroom) Aesthetic appeal / Use of colour / Temperature / Seating / Music / Body language Mnemonics Over-stimulation Pattern spotting and learning in broad strokes Theory of multiple intelligences application Objective setting

Comparison of Traditional Learning vs. Accelerated Learning A comparison between some of the characteristics of Traditional Learning and AL reveals the following differences. These characteristics are points on a continuum and should not be interpreted as polar opposites.

Upcoming Events
April 26-28, 2007 10th National ELT Conference Information Technology and ELT Universidad de la Sabana, Bogot. www.britishcouncil.org/colombiaeltconference.htm May 4-5, 2007 15th Annual ELT Conference and Book Fair Teachers or English Language Professionals? Centro Cultural Colombo Americano, Cali. info@colomboamericano.edu.co

Accelerated Learning Flexible Joyful Multi-pathed Ends-centered Collaborative Humanistic Multi-sensory Nurturing (taking care of sb) Activity-centered Mental/emotional/physical Results-based

The Accelerated Learning Handbook. McGraw Hill. 2000.

10 ASOCOPINewsletter

PLENARY - At the 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference

Brain Based Learning in an EFL Context


Jenny Dooley - Express Publishing

The gap in education is often to be found in what is expected of a course and what is ultimately delivered. These expectations basically come from three sources: student, state and parents. On the surface all three seem to agree with what they expect from foreign language instruction: that learners become competent in the target language.
On closer inspection, however, gaps do start to appear. The state, either deliberately or not, tends to force teachers into an exambased mentality that can override all other goals. Parents also become result orientated as they have no other measure by which to judge their childrens progress. Children find that language learning becomes an exercise in memorisation and testing that becomes highly negative and results in little in terms of communicative language skills. It goes without saying that all concerned parties must ultimately be catered for, and, thankfully, these days there is considerable help around. What the speaker intends to do during the lecture is firstly, to outline contemporary cognitive learning theories which, based on neurological research, aim to bring teaching more into line with the way that the brain naturally functions. The argument that will be made here is that the more teaching practices reflect the way learners think and learn the more positive and effective the learning experience will be. At the same time, it is only logical to assume that if our teaching practices are more effective they will ultimately lead to satisfactory examination results. Thus the gap is bridged between expectation and implementation. The speaker is highly sensitive to the realities of the classroom (class sizes, teaching hours, etc.) and believes it is an essential part of her presentation to demonstrate how sound theory becomes sound practice. Using her experience as both teacher and author, she will discuss how these theories have affected contemporary course design and how this design will shape the form of the lesson. Task types will be analysed both in terms of how they compare to theory and how they aid in the day to day business of creating competent Colombian speakers of English.

PLENARY - At the 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference

Using Cooperative Learning Effectively in ESL Classrooms


Edythe Johnson Holubec, David W. Johnson, and Roger T. Johnson The Cooperative Learning Center, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 55455, www.co-operation.org

using cooperative learning, do a short cooperative learning activity, then have them explain how it can help them learn. Initially, use the groups for short get-acquainted and review activities to build success. 3. Teach students appropriate interaction skills. Just because students have worked in groups before doesnt mean that they know how to be effective group members. Ask students to contribute to a class list of appropriate group behaviors. Display and continually remind students to use them. Examples: stay on task, contribute ideas, help others learn, encourage everyone to participate, listen with care, show respect for others. 4. Dont let students choose their own groups. We would all choose our friends to work with if given the choice - its safer. However, friends may hurry through the work or get off-task. Students need the skills of working with many different types of people. To help them develop positive working relationships with all class members, randomly assign them to groups. Change groups often enough so no-one gets stuck for long periods with a difficult class member. 5. Give students consistent practice in cooperative learning. Use cooperative learning in some way in every class period. This will help them develop cooperative skills and reinforce cooperative habits. If nothing else, have them share what they learned with their partner. 6. Start small and build. Initial cooperative learning activities should be frequent and short (2-7 minutes), with clear goals that are accomplished quickly in class. You then listen, give feedback, and add additional instruction. Key: they arent done until their partner knows and can explain the material. Dont progress to longer and more significant assignments until students are successful with the smaller ones and then continually emphasize the goal: learning by all members. 7. A clear learning goal. Students need a clear learning goal so they can determine both group and individual learning success. Example: You are finished when every member in your group can explain the answers and/or pass a quiz. 8. Build a classroom learning community. This is a powerful tool in helping students learn.

In effective language classrooms, students must gain an understanding of what to do and how to do it. Then they need lots of practice to make their learning and responses automatic. These goals are best met when educators use cooperative learning.

Cooperative Learning is when students work together to help each other learn and achieve mutual goals. However, not all groups are cooperative groups. It is up to the educators in charge of the classroom to make sure that the groups in the class are cooperative groups. In starting students out, keep your use of cooperative learning simple. Use it daily in the classroom as frequent bursts of activities that are too short for students to get off task and that will give them the understanding and practice they need. Have partners work in class daily to check for understanding, vocabulary learning, conversation practice or sentences/ paragraph translation. Remind them that their job is to make sure their partner learns. When students are good at learning together in class, then you can venture to more complex cooperative activities, but plan such activities carefully and include all five essential elements. Here is some advice for getting started.
1. Keep group size small: 2 or 3 members are most effective and efficient. Smaller groups are more likely to stay on task and take less time to achieve most tasks. In twos or threes, no one is left out and students get a more intensive learning experience. 2. Prepare students to work in cooperative groups. Explain to students why you are

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Start every group session with a quick partner get-acquainted or relationship-building question, such as finding out their partners favorite flavor of ice-cream. Build in initial success by giving review activities, and then increase the difficulty of the tasks so students gain confidence in their ability to work together. Praise them for positive interactions and helpful behaviors. 9. Carefully monitor the groups while they are working. Dont sit at your desk: this is teaching time. Be among the groups correcting misconceptions, helping students understand, and reinforcing good teamwork skills. Monitor the groups carefully by observing interactions and encouraging appropriate learning and teamwork skills. Help the groups work toward mastery of every student. Keep individuals on their toes by asking them at random to explain their groups work. 10. Dont give group grades. The purpose of cooperative learning is to help each student learn. You can usually check whether the groups were successful with individual tests. Give group grades only when absolutely necessary, absolutely fair for each member, and when you have taught the students how to work together. In the meantime, use cooperative learning for ungraded guided practice to help students perform well on individual tests and assignments. 11. Be careful when you try advanced techniques such as Jigsaw. The jigsaw technique is one where each student learns part of the material and then teaches it to their group members. If individual students cant comprehend the material they need to teach, students are not ready to do jigsaw with that lesson. Instead, give direct instruction with cooperative guided practice. Also, just because a student taught members doesnt mean that they learned. You must give additional assignments to help students learn the material. 12. Celebrate success! When groups accomplish their goals (no matter how small), tell them how great they are. Have them thank their partners for helping them. Accentuate the positive. Students will look forward to coming to a class where they get help in learning and hear positive statements about their work with others.

After putting these into place you need to learnthe five essential elements of cooperative learning and how to put them in lessons. These elements come from the research: good groups have them, poor groups dont. Briefly, groups need the following: Positive Interdependence. Students must feel that they need each other in order to complete the groups task, that they sink or swim together. Some ways to create this feeling are through establishing mutual goals (students must learn the material and make certain group members learn the material), joint rewards (if all group members achieve above a certain percentage on a test, each will receive bonus points), shared materials and information (one paper for each group or each member receives only part of the information needed to do the assignment), and assigned roles (summarizer, encourager of participation, checker for understanding, elaborator). Face-to-face Promotive Interaction. No magic exists in positive interdependence in and of itself. Beneficial educational outcomes are due to the interaction patterns and verbal exchanges that take place among students in carefully structured cooperative learning groups. Oral summarizing, giving and receiving explanations, and elaborating (relating what is being learned to previous learning) are important types of verbal interchanges. Individual Accountability. No magic exists in positive interdependence in and of itself. Beneficial educational outcomes are due to the interaction patterns and verbal exchanges that take place among students in carefully structured cooperative learning groups. Oral summarizing, giving and receiving explanations, and elaborating (relating

what is being learned to previous learning) are important types of verbal interchanges. Interpersonal and Small Group Skills. Students do not come to school with the social skills they need to collaborate effectively with others. So teachers need to teach the appropriate communication, leadership, trust, decision making, and conflict management skills to students and provide the motivation to use these skills in order for groups to function effectively. Group Processing. Processing means giving students the time and procedures to analyze how well their groups are functioning and using the necessary social skills. Processing helps all group members achieve while maintaining effective working relationships among members. Students give each other positive, specific feedback (how they helped the group) or analyze the group behaviors (list three things your group did well in working together and one thing that would make your group even better). Teachers also monitor the groups and give them feedback on how well they observed members working. As you can see, using cooperative learning can be both simple and complex. If you want success in using it to help your students learn, start with simple learning activities and build up to more complex ones. As you and your students become more adept in finding effective ways to help each other learn, your classrooms will become more effective, more efficient, and more fun! For more information about training, research, or resources, check out the website of the Cooperative Learning Center: www.co-operation.org.

13 ASOCOPINewsletter

PLENARY - At the 41st ASOCOPI Annual Conference

Implications of Bilingismo and Globalization Processes in Colombia:

promotion of multilingualism, undermining the development of other elite bilingualisms, or the languages of native communities. The dominant discourse about bilingualism (with English) is articulated in the public school context too, though many students feel that success in English language learning is only achieved outside the realm of the public school (Valencia Giraldo, 2005). The ideas that teachers have about the possibility of learning English in public school contexts are pessimistic. There are few resources and difficult working conditions, and the way teachers position the learners also has a direct effect on the attitude of the students. A recent case study carried out in two secondary public schools in Armenia, Quindio, set out to explore bilingual classroom interaction between teachers and learners in two English classes in each school. The study is a critical analysis of policy and educational reforms where language was a central issue. In connection with the latter, the study also looked into the pervasive discourses in Colombia about investing in English and the impact of globalization. Reforms in the educational system in Colombia have generally responded to international tendencies; however, the lack of coherent policy and foreign language provision in the public sector has led to the rise and success of private schools and institutes, increasing in this way the divide between public and private education, acting as a form of exclusion for the less privileged and placing students in public institutions at a different level in terms of economic opportunities and access to higher education. The findings in this study show that globalisation pressures, and the increasing emphasis on the necessity to know English has, in the end, had little impact on the people in the lower economic sectors of Colombian society as they do not have access to the same privileges and opportunities that those in the middle and upper sectors have. Furthermore, globalisation trends and pressures do not

Insights from Research on ELT Policy And Practice


Silvia Valencia Giraldo, Ph.D. - Universidad del Quindo

In this presentation, I intend to connect present policy developments and intervention in educational reforms underway in Colombia with globalizing processes. Drawing on research carried out in Armenia, Quindo, I will comment on some of the findings of this research study as a backdrop to the analysis of ELT in Colombia, hoping to provide points for reflection on ELT pedagogical practices in public schools and recent developments in bilingismo.
As a result of globalization processes, English has become the global language, a phenomenon regarded by many as an inevitable consequence of globalization and global capitalism. As Graddol (2006:10) notes, more people than ever before want to learn English. In order to analyze of the role of English in a globalized world, it is necessary to look at the hegemonic position of English in tandem with ELT, as the latter has been the vehicle for the promotion of English worldwide. Although discourses about the spread of English in many parts of the world have often embodied a positive image of English; in the 1960s, the spread of the English language started to be questioned

on moral terms. Critical work on the spread of English (Smith, 1984; Phillipson, 1992; Pennycook, 1994; Brutt-Griffler, 2002, among others) has focused also on ethical and political concerns. The construction of these discourses is also relevant to teacher education practice of ELT, as the profession is seen as a discipline with a central concern with psycholinguistic abstractions, instead of addressing the social, cultural or political contexts of education (Pennycook, 1994: 142). The pervasive discourse about bilinguismo in Colombia clearly shows the effects of globalization. Due to global trends and structural and educational reforms, a remarkable number of governments talk not only about the need to learn a foreign language but of an ambition to make their country bilingual (Graddol 2006: 89). The government project, Programa Nacional de Bilingismo, focuses on the need to form bilingual individuals in 10 years; however, in this context there is not a clear understanding about what bilingismo means. As Rey de Castro and Garca have noted, there is no consensus as to what is precisely meant by the term bilingualism [in Colombia]most people take it to mean proficiency in the use of the foreign language (1997: 5 cited in de Meja, 2004: 388). Bilingismo is then primarily understood as Spanish with English, or English only; in addition, in the government program, Spanish seems to be taken for granted, and there is no

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seem to have a direct effect on the teaching practices in public schools in Colombia. Previous research has demonstrated how, despite language policy reforms, traditional pedagogical orientations in ELT (e.g. grammar translation) still prevail. This observation has been confirmed in this study. Teachers and learners in public schools are aware of the discourses about bilingualism that circulate in contemporary Colombian society; however, for those who try to invest in the acquisition of Spanish-English bilingualism as part of their public school education, there are clearly no tangible outcomes. The analysis of the classroom interaction data in this study shows how traditional institutionalised pedagogical practices remain embedded in these schools. Teachers such as the two I have focused on in this study fall back on their own beliefs and personal experiences to comply with the demands of the syllabus and the curriculum (Valencia Giraldo, 2006). Some of the texts used by the teachers in these schools were global in nature (i.e. North American publications with a clear cultural orientation to North American middle-class values and way of life); others were re-designed as teachers localized texts to make them more familiar to the students. Thus, the selection, construction and use of texts did not only reflect global pressures; textual and pedagogical practices were more complex (Ibid). From this research study, it can be said that a critical approach to education in general and specifically to ELT policy needs to be adopted. ELT practices in the Colombian context certainly need to be viewed in a different way. There is a pressing need for reflection on ELT pedagogy and school culture in order to adapt to the new realities teachers must face in schools. The apathy of students and their lack of interest in learning in institutional contexts need to be dealt with. The contradictions implicit in current discourses on investment in English should be debated, given the intense interest in bilingualism in Colombia. The experience of schools and teachers needs

to be accounted for. Open discussion is necessary, and channels of communication need to be strengthened with local and national education authorities. Teachers in particular need to be critical of the discourses of investing in English and also need to be aware of the misconceptions and promises of bilingualism as it is understood by those who promote it. Nevertheless, these developments offer, as De Meja states, interesting opportunities for researchit may be said that elite bilingual education has moved from being a priority of minority groups to a national educational concern (2002: 181). English teachers, therefore, must assume a critical role regarding their profession, the discourse of bilingismo and the promises inherent in this discourse. Universities have an important role to play in this respect. The General Law of Education (MEN, 1994) advocates a critical reflection and a more predominant role in the type of support they can provide for in-service teacher education. On the other hand, teachers in primary schools are extremely concerned about teaching in a foreign language without adequate preparation of materials. Although the introduction of a second language in primary school is part of the present discourse, it is not clear which actions have been taken. There does not seem to exist adequate funding for the Progama Nacional de Bilingismo. Besides, the possibility of applying the Common European Framework as a referent for measuring the proficiency of teachers and learners is seen as a threat by many. As Melba Libia Cardenas has noted, [m]ost of the logical considerations of the Framework- and other foreign frameworks- need to be approached with healthy academic analysisteachers still have limited proficiency in the foreign language, materials are expensive for students and teachers, and there is limited access to personal growth and professional development opportunities for teachers (ASOCOPI Newsletter, 2005).

In conclusion, the current discourse on investment in English must be analyzed critically to determine who, in reality, benefits from the promotion of bilingualism (Heller and Martin-Jones, 2001). It is important to discuss how English may function as a barrier for those people who do not acquire the basic skills in the language (English), even after having studied it through secondary schools and even throughout both primary and secondary school. In an excluding society like ours, some social groups may be excluded with few possibilities of enjoying/ benefiting from the fruits of globalization.

References
ASOCOPI Newsletter. April, 2005. Brutt-Griffler. J. (2002) World English. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Graddol, D. (2006). English Next. British Council. Heller, M. and Martin-Jones, M. (eds.) (2001) Voices of Authority. Westport: Ablex Publishing. Meja, A. M. de (2002). Power, Prestige and Bilingualism. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Meja, A.M.de (2004) Bilingual education in Colombia: Towards an integrated perpective. Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.7, No. 5. Ministerio de Educacin Nacional. (1994) Ley General de Educacin. Santa F de Bogot. Editorial MEN. Pennycook, A. (1994). The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language. London: Longman. Smith, O. (1984) The Politics of Language (1791-1819). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Phillipson, R. (1992) Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Valencia Giraldo (2005). Bilingualism and English language teaching in Colombia: A critical outlook. Paper presented at Primeras Jornadas de Traduccin y Lenguas Modernas: Universidad del Quindo 45 aos. Octubre 6-7. Universidad del Quindo. Valencia Giraldo (2006). Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal. Number 8, September.

This issue of ASOCOPI newsletter is sponsored by

www.britishcouncil.org/colombia

15 ASOCOPINewsletter

ELT DIRECTORY
Pearson Educacin de Colombia Ltda. ngela Andrade, Gerente Divisin ELT/School Carrera 65 B No. 14-32 - Tel: 2607381- Fax: 260 7358 angela.andrade@pearsoned.com supportline@pearsoned.com www.pearsoneducacion.net - www.longman.com Thomson Learning de Colombia S.A. Nadia Reina M. ELT Manager - Andean Pact Cra. 90 No.17B-39 Bodega 27 Sector Hayuelos. Bogot D.C., Colombia Pbx: +57(1) 2922040 ext. 110 elt@thomsonlearning.com.co www.thomsonlearning.com.mx - www.heinle.com Cambridge University Press Colombia Ricardo Romero M. Transversal 29 #139 A - 65 y/o 33 Tel: 6490625 - Fax: 6490626/7 cambridge@cable.net.co - www.cambridge.org Books & Books Soraya Corts Calle 140 N 31A - 05. Bogot Tel: +57 (1) 633 3300 Ext. 123 - Fax +57 (1) 258 0793 testingservices@booksandbooks.com.co - www.ellis.com Mr Books - Oxford University Press Ignacio Mejia, Claudia Mejia Carrera 18 B No. 108-05 - Tels.: 6129596 - FAX 6129551 mbfinanciero@mrbooks.com.co ignaciomejia@mrbooks.com.co mbventas@mrbooks.com.co The Anglo Publishing House Juan Carlos Gmez, Fitzroy Kennedy Calle 79 No. 14-30. Bogot Tels: +57 (1) 621-6721, 6160675 - Fax +57 (1) 6216664 interbookshop@andinet.com - www.anglopublishing.com www.mmpi.co.uk - www.expresspublishing.co.uk Richmond Grupo Santillana Maria Vidalia Mrquez, Angelica Pinzn Calle 80 # 10-23. Bogot - Tel: 6351200 Ext 138 pinzona@santillana.com.co - www.santillana.com.co McGraw-Hill Interamericana S.A Carlos Eduardo Bermdez, Gerente Comercial Carrera 11 #93-46 Of.301. Bogot Tel: 600 38 54 - Fax: 600 38 22 carlos_bermudez@mcgraw-hill.com Houghton Mifflin Luz Angela Umaa Calle 46 No. 40-11. Bogot - Tel: 2212454 - Tel-fax: 2211178 luzangelaumana@hotmail.com - www.hmco.com Grupo Editorial Norma - Greenwich EL T ELT Oscar Laiton, Ana Mara Rojas Calle 95 No. 33-44. Bogot Tel: 4106355 Ext 1702- Fax 5336725 anamaria.rojas@norma.com - www.normatextos.com www.greenwich-elt.com VIF Program Jennifer McInnis Wiggins PO Box 3566 Chapel Hill, NC 27515 3566 U.S. Tel: 919-967-5144 Fax: 919-967-8224 latinamerica@vifprogram.com - www.vifprogram.com English Language Services Nidia Snchez Av. 19 No. 122-49 Local 39 Bogot Tel: 481 49 01 Fax: 619 72 72 englishlas@andinet.com

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42nd ASOCOPI Annual Conference


October 11 - 14, 2007 Universidad de Caldas, Manizales