MEC in Chile: Delivering English online from a blazing desert to an icy rocky tip01-Aug-2007
In a 4,000 kilometre long country where distance is clearly not a choice, the British Institute in Santiago started developing distance learning programmes of English as a foreign language in 2000. In 2004, we decided to incorporate the English Campus as a powerful online source of EFL learning resources into our face-to-face and distance learning programmes. We soon realised that the potential behind the possibility of generating tailor-made courses for every type of internal and external user with a wide range of needs was simply enormous.
At the moment, we have created over 100 different courses for our language school face-to-face teen and adolescent students, face-to-face students from our recently launched Universidad Chileno Británica de Cultura – The British University, students from traditional state and private universities which have signed agreements with us to generate blended English programmes and an important number of 100% distance students spread out along the length of the country. The courses designed for this last segment include Cambridge ESOL KET, PET, FCE, CAE, CPE and IELTS exam preparation courses online and Cambridge ESOL TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test) three-module courses for EFL teachers in need of an international teaching certification.
Map of Chile
But the road hasn’t always been easy. Implementing an efficient system to manage new Campus users coming from a number of different institutions which needed to be activated in a virtual class was our very first challenge. It meant regular communication with the MEC support team which was always ready to guide us on the steps to follow to be able to do it, regardless of the time difference between this side of the world and theirs. Our second major challenge was making our teachers familiar with Campus as a learning tool so that they could first become effective users themselves to be able to promote its use among their face-to-face and online learners.
We feel we have been able to move ahead and now certainly feel ready to carry on devising new ideas in a country where English has gained a privileged place as a foreign language.