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Panama Aims to Become a Completely Bilingual (Spanish & English) Country, But Remains Far From That Goal

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Panama English language skills near world’s worst

Posted on November 22, 2016 in Panama

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AFTER  years of experimental  initiatives by successive education administrations Panama remains near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to English language teaching programs

Panama is poorly rated when evaluated according to a study conducted in 2013 by EF Education First (EF), an international body   specialized in language teaching since its founding in 1965.

The report places Panama in position number 52 of a total of 63 countries evaluated. This is the third analysis in which the Panama  has participated  The first study was in 2011 and the country was ranked 40 out of 44.

The second was in 2012 and Panama finished 51 out of 54 nations.

The latest reports shows states that in the last seven years Panama has shown  no improvement in language learning and is still on the list of the 15 poorest English speaking countries,  including Guatemala, Ecuador and Costa Rica Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden are the top three.

Nicolás Escobar director of EF in Panama, , said the idea is to know the level of bilingualism – a person’s ability to use two languages in any communicative situation – anywhere in the world. For that, 750 ,000 tests (oral and written) were applied to people between 18 and 60 years of age in the 63 countries.

The results produced  by EF t did not surprise Indira Rojas, an English teacher for 16 years at the Chino-Panamanian Cultural Center.

She said that the main factor that influenced to Panama’s loe grading  has to do with the ineffective and often routine methods of preparation in public education.

She e told La Prensa: “the teachers themselves do not have the necessary training to be able to teach a second language in a natural way to the students”.

Language law
Rojas said that the country has lagged behind and has failed to comply with Law No. 2 of January 14, 2003, which mandates the provision of English as a second language throughout the country.

The Ministry of Education (Meduca) argues that  the report it is a perception and does not necessarily reflect reality, considering that the level of English in the country is intermediate reports La Prensa.

Yarielis García, director of the Language Unit of Meduca, said that to encourage learning, a $ 135 million investment is planned for the “Panama Bilingual” program.

The initiative, launched last July by President Juan Carlos Varela and which will run until 2019, plans to train 305,000 thousand teachers and students. Of those  25,000 will be teachers; 100,000  thousand, students of average and premedia and 160,000 initial and basic students

During the administration of Education Minister Lucy Molinar (2009-2014) bilingual projects were eliminated and others were created.

For example, the Engish for Life Program, which was promoted by the director of the Gabriel Lewis Galindo Foundation, Marta Lewis de Cardoze, during the Martin  Torrijos administration (2004-2009), was canceled.

The initiative reached 42,000 primary, secondary and adults seeking work. But when the new administration arrived it wstopped funding.

Molinar argued that “these were isolated programs, with their own budget, territory and autonomy such that they could not be effective. It was as if there were seven or eight parallel ministries. Now innovations are being applied to these programs, but to the whole system. ”

The Meduca chose to create the Children Program through which teachers spent five hours a week teaching English, an initiative that benefited more than 125,385 children in 350 schools across the country.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-english-language-skills-near-worlds-worst

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With help from Tulane, Panama aims to become a completely bilingual country

March 21, 2017 4:30 AM
Jamie Logan newwave@tulane.edu

Tulane University and the Panamanian Ministry of Education have collaborated to form one of the largest language policy initiatives ever attempted. The Panama Bilingüe program, a creation of the government of Panama, is designed with a goal of making the entire country bilingual in Spanish and English within a single generation.

“They are sending all Panamanian English teachers to the United States, Canada or Great Britain for eight weeks,” said Robert Connor, Director of ESL at the Center for Global Education. “Our role is to let them experience American culture, to work on their English language and to teach pedagogy.”

The fourth cohort of Panamanian educators recently celebrated completion of the program with a ceremony in Rogers Memorial Chapel on the uptown campus. Tulane is one of 20 universities to participate in the program.  

"They are not only trying to improve their language ability, but they are also trying to benefit from Tulane’s scholarly environment.”
John DePriest, staff instructor

“Many participants are from Panama City, but many are from rural areas with open one-room school houses,” said staff instructor John DePriest. “Each group has about 25 contact hours per week. They are not only trying to improve their language ability, but they are also trying to benefit from Tulane’s scholarly environment.”

As part of the exchange program, DePriest and his colleagues will travel to Panama City in May where they will meet to discuss a new layer to the program in which American graduates are invited to become assistant teachers in Panama.

“This experience helped me grow tremendously as an educator,” said staff instructor Elizabeth Rafferty. “It was a reminder of the layers that have to be peeled back until you get to the true learner so that authentic student-teacher interaction can happen and true learning can move forward. For the first time in 30 years, they made me forget that English isn’t their first language. It really was a stunning experience.”

 

https://tulane.edu/help-tulane-panama-aims-become-completely-bilingual-country

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Just me...but I believe the addition of text books in public schools would help enormously.  To be able to read and from that reading, extract information is a skill every child needs to have.  Children need school books.  English is great...books great.   English books great.  The kids deserve it all !

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Medical research papers are mostly in English.  Only a few are in Spanish.  I have always wondered how doctors here who do not speak English keep up to date in their field if they can't read most of the literature.  It sure doesn't hurt a person to know more than one language.

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When children only go to school 4 hours a day, where do they find the time?  It seems to me they spend most of that time drumming and marching.  Casa Esperanza teaches English to the finca children but they are at Casa a lot longer than they are at school.  Policy is one thing but implementation is quite another.

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Not going to happen unless attitudes towards education of kids changes radically.  Most ridiculous phrase ever?  "Education es Primero".

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There is a big expo this weekend at the Atlapa Convention Centre called Educaté 2017.

 

 

 

Edited by Keith Woolford

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How Much English is Spoken in Central America

According to Education First's English Proficiency Index, Costa Rica and El Salvador have not been able to raise their level of proficiency in the last five years, while Panama and Guatemala, which in 2014 and 2015 did improve their performance, fell in 2016 to the "Very low" level.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The index published each year by Global Education First defines three levels of language proficiency in 72 countries around the world. In the world rankings, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador ranked 38, 53, 50 and 63, respectively. 

Regarding the results for 2015, Panama deteriorated from "Low" to "Very Low", while Costa Rica has remained "Low" since 2011, without any improvement. 

El Salvador, on the other hand, ranked 63rd worldwide and last place in Latin America, at the "Very Low" level, where it has been since 2012. Only in 2011 did it have the "Low" level.

Compared with other Latin American countries, Guatemala is the third country with the worst level of English, surpassed only by El Salvador and Venezuela.  The level according to the 2016 ranking is "Very low", and a fall was reported compared to 2015, when it ranked in the "Low" level.

Nicaragua and Honduras are not covered in the study. 

See complete study by EF Education First. (In Spanish)

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Little_Importance_Given_to_Mastery_of_English_in_Central_America

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Panama’s English speaking level declining

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PRESIDENT Varela’s attempt to  increase the number of English speakers in Pananam appears to have fallen flat according to a new report.

Education First’s  English Proficiency Index,  says Costa Rica and El Salvador have not been able to raise their level of proficiency in the last five years, while Panama and Guatemala, which in 2014 and 2015 did improve their performance, fell in 2016 to the “Very low” level.

The index published each year by Global Education First defines three levels of language proficiency in 72 countries around the world. In the world rankings, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador ranked 38, 53, 50 and 63, respectively.

For  2015, Panama deteriorated from “Low” to “Very Low”, while Costa Rica has remained “Low” since 2011, without any improvement.

El Salvador, on the other hand, ranked 63rd worldwide and last place in Latin America, at the “Very Low” level, where it has been since 2012. Only in 2011 did it reach the “Low” level.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panamas-english-speaking-level-declining-2

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Panama  still lags in English language

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Imposing business skyline, little English
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Panama  still lags in English language skills

PANAMA continues  to trail the region in English language proficiency and  sits  49th     in an

Education First  (EF) survey of 80 non-native English speaking countries.

Panama showed no relevant improvement in learning English for adults and has one of the weakest proficiency profiles in the region, according to the EF English First Proficiency Index (EF EPI) 2017.

The Netherlands (Holland), remains as leader of the survey.

The measurement is used by thousands of schools, companies and governments, where large-scale tests were previously prohibitively expensive.

The EF EPI was launched in the United Kingdom, where Sebastian Faulks, CEB, spoke about English as a key asset for global commitment and shared prosperity.

“In today’s global economy, the advantages of learning English transcend borders,” said Minh N. Tran, director of Research at EF. The EP EPI 2017 classifies 80 countries and territories on the basis of data from more than one million adults who took the EF Standard English Test (EF SET), the first free standardized English test in the world. The EF SET provides language students with access to a high quality English test model.

In the region, Argentina continues to lead Latin America in the position #25 despite having dropped five positions. Mexico also dropped one position (# 44) against the previous year.

Colombia, Guatemala and Panama improved to get out of the Very Low Domain band, but despite significant education spending in Latin America, the region still has low world averages. The gap between men and women in the region is lower compared to other regions and is not statistically significant.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-still-lags-english-language

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CAF and Panama sign credit of 125 million dollars for teaching English

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 16:33

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The Latin American Development Bank CAF and the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Panama signed a $ 125 million loan agreement for the teaching of English as a second language in Panamanians public schools.

The regional financial entity said on Thursday that the resources will serve to strengthen the strategies of the Panama Bilingual program developed by the Ministry of Education and that seeks the training of teachers and students.

During 2018, the program prepared more than 3,000 teachers in local and international trainings, and has impacted more than 130,000 students participating in the After School Program and the Kids Program, according to the information disseminated by CAF.

The representative of the financial institution in Panama, Susana Pinilla, said that for CAF "it is extremely important to support this initiative of the government of Panama that consists of training their children and young people in bilingual education, with English being a universal language that allows access to better education and more information and training".

"Panama is an example for the Latin American region by strengthening its state education system with bilingual training tools, which will allow students to better prepare for globalization, and which will be replicated in other Latin American countries", the executive added.

When announcing last December the approval of this loan, the CAF board said that among the expected benefits of the Panama Bilingüe program, the increase in the labor insertion rate and the expectation of generating higher income were highlighted.

"It is expected to train more than 150,000 students and 1,000 teachers each year through local training and specialized universities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Barbados", said the multilateral.

CAF, constituted in 1970, is currently made up of 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, together with Spain and Portugal, and 13 private banks.

It is one of the main sources of multilateral financing for the region, and its mission is to promote sustainable development and regional integration, according to the information on its website.

 

https://www.panamatoday.com/panama/caf-and-panama-sign-credit-125-million-dollars-teaching-english-9187

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Living in Boquete one would think that Panamanians are almost totally bi-lingual. I interact with many Panamanians (yes, even outside of restaurants) and our conversations are often conducted in Spanglish or full English. But, Boquete is unique in this regard.

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Panama gets failing grade in English language  proficiency

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Posted 14/11/2019

Panama  remains near the bottom of the class when it comes to English language proficiency making the improvement of teaching essential to maintain its competitiveness and strengthen its human capital.

According to the English Proficiency Index, - carried out by Education First (EF) an international education body  Panama occupies the 64th position of 100 economies that were evaluated worldwide.

The country obtained a rating of 49.6 and is located in the group with low English skills in a labor market that demands the command of the English language for 75% of the places.

In Latin America it is 15th out of 19  listed countries. 

To obtain the results of the survey, a sample of 2.3 million people was taken. "In order to evaluate a country, at least 400 people had to take the test," said Leonor Martínez, general manager of EF Panama.

"In a country like Panama - Hub of the Americas and its strategic location - we are surprised by the results," said the executive.

The low command of the English language among Panamanians reduces the competitiveness of the country, which  is  a largely service and transit economy, the study points out.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-gets-failing-grade-in-english-language-proficiency-1

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