Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC): Program allowed UC professionals and administrators to improve their English skills

Curiosity was felt by Alfredo González, an official from the UC Sustainability Directorate , when he received an email asking him if he wanted to take a test to measure his level of English. After completing the questionnaire, he was invited to the next stage: to participate in conversation workshops to deepen his knowledge in that language. “I accepted the challenge. People who don’t speak English are afraid of doing it in a group, but the truth is that the experience was very relaxed and the teachers facilitated the learning process”, he says.

González was one of the 642 officials and administrators of the Catholic University who responded to the survey in 2020 and one of the participants in the first pilot version of the “English for Life” program 2020-2021, organized by English UC , the UC People’s Directorate and the UC Deputy Vice President for International Affairs .

The objective of this program was to train the oral skills in English of civil servants and administrators through practical and playful workshops -once a week via Zoom- for about six weeks. In the summer of 2020 it was the first time that it was carried out and it included the participation of people diagnosed with lower levels of knowledge of English. Instead, in 2021 people with a higher level were summoned.

Internationalize the UC
For the UC economic vice-chancellor, Loreto Massanés, the importance of “English for Life” lies in the fulfillment of the university’s 2020-2025 Development Plan. “Learning the English language is at the center of the guidelines of our Development Plan, which promotes internationalization through the promotion of exchanges that broaden professional horizons, as well as the possibility of receiving and providing quality experiences to people from other countries that communicate in this language,” said Massanés at the program’s closing ceremony on January 25 at Campus Oriente.

“Learning the English language is at the center of the guidelines of our Development Plan, which promotes internationalization through the promotion of exchanges that broaden professional horizons” – Loreto Massanés, UC Vice President for Economics

The closing ceremony of “English for Life” was held at the UC Oriente Campus.
This same idea was reinforced by the deputy vice-rector for International Affairs, Lilian Ferrer, who described the professionals and administrators who participated in the initiative as “English for Life ambassadors”. “We are very pleased to work with you to install this program within our community. We believe that an internationalization strategy for our community responds to all of us having English language skills”, she commented.

“We are very pleased to work with you to install this program within our community. We believe that an internationalization strategy for our community responds to everyone having skills in the English language” – Lilian Ferrer, vice-rector for International Affairs

In turn, the pro-rector for Institutional Management, Patricio Donoso, highlighted the importance of English at an institutional, professional and personal level. “This initiative speaks volumes about the present and future of our university, where internationalization is a central theme. That an important group of professionals who work at UC have greater capacities based on a diagnosis and specific training is of great value to our institution”, he pointed out.

“This initiative speaks volumes about the present and future of our university, where internationalization is a central theme. That an important group of professionals who work at UC have greater capacities based on a diagnosis and specific training is of great value to our institution” – Patricio Donoso, pro-rector of Institutional Management

Consolidate the workshops
The future of this program looks auspicious. So believes Christopher MacGuire, director of English UC. “We are seeking to give continuity to the program. It is very possible that we will go back to the courses with the most basic levels, because they are the ones that need much more support,” he said. He added that they hope to establish it within the development of the career at UC, as well as covering all levels of knowledge of the language.

As MacGuire explained, the use of English exploded during the pandemic. Many people use it to reach any part of the world, an issue that is facilitated by new technologies. “The only way to improve English is to practice and use it. That is the purpose of this triad between English UC, the People’s Office and the Deputy Vice President for International Affairs: to provide the spaces and seek the tools to continue practicing and learning this language”, she concluded.

“The only way to improve English is to practice and use it. That is the purpose of this triad between English UC, the People Department and the Deputy Vice President for International Affairs: to provide the spaces and seek the tools to continue practicing and learning this language” – Christopher MacGuire, director of English UC

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