English Language Specialist Barbara Sakamoto traveled throughout Mexico for two weeks to foster educational and cultural exchange with public school teachers there.

Sakamoto observed classrooms and conducted interviews with teachers in Mexico City, Toluca, Puebla, Monterrey, Zacatecas, and La Paz. These experiences helped her assess the training needs of public school English teachers and develop a blended training program to help in-service teachers develop the skills necessary to raise the level of English education in Mexico. She then used this knowledge to conduct teacher training workshops to share techniques and strategies for classroom teachers. Her work also served to strengthen personal relationships and promote mutual cultural understanding with teachers.

In each of those cities, Sakamoto also conducted a workshop on best practices in teaching English to young learners. “The amazing level of access and support I was accorded by members of the Secretariat of Education officers and local school administrators reflects the high regard with which the Mexico City Regional English Language Officer team is held,” Sakamoto said. She was able to observe more than 700 students being taught by 19 teachers. Her five workshops were attended by more than 100 teachers, who appreciated the teaching techniques and strategies she shared and learned something of value to take back to their own classrooms.

Sakamoto also had the pleasant opportunity to visit with dedicated students and teachers in the ACCESS program in Naucalpan. “I had a chance to introduce a bit about Japanese culture, and the doors that English ability opens at foreign companies (e.g., Japanese, Korean, etc.) based in Mexico since many multinational corporations are adopting English as the language of their workplace. The students were able to use their English and technology skills to create a digital picture book during our time together,” Sakamoto said.

The final event that Sakamoto attended was the MEXTESOL conference in Puebla Mexico, where she gave a plenary talk, attended sessions, and met informally with teachers during the conference. “I met a number of teachers who spoke highly of the support they had received through the various programs sponsored through the US Embassy. Because of their positive experiences they were very happy to talk with me about teacher needs in the public schools,” Sakamoto said. At least 2,000 teachers attended the well-received plenary talk.

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Sakamoto was the plenary speaker at the MEXTESOL Conference.

It was a busy and important two weeks. “The effective results from both teacher workshops and my participation at MEXTESOL will extend beyond the 2,100 teachers physically present at the events, as they return to their own teaching communities and share what they learned. Because many Mexican teachers use social media networks, our connection will last beyond my short visit, enabling future opportunities to share and learn together,” Sakamoto said.

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