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Teaching in English in a Spanish speaking country

Even though I’m just starting my third year at CIDE, I have been pushing for teaching courses in the English language basically ever since I arrived here from Canada. I admit it, it’s WAY easier for me to teach in English than it is to teach in Spanish. Remember, the vast majority of my university and post-graduate level teaching experience (2006-2012) was in English. It is, despite what some of my colleagues and students may think, my first language. I don’t even think in Spanish anymore.

This term I am teaching both of my undergraduate courses in English (Regional Development is a fourth year course, and State and Local Government is a third year course). I’ve noticed that my students are much more receptive to the material than I expected. It’s a huge challenge to find bibliography (in particular journal articles) about Mexican state- and local-level politics that fits what I want to teach. I face the same type of challenge with Regional Development.

Teaching in English at CIDE Region Centro

I’ve also noticed differences in learning styles. My third-year students write notes by hand, whereas my fourth year students tend to type in their laptops or iPads. But for me, it’s a HUGE relief to be able to teach again in English. Preparing slides for a class in Spanish requires me to have a laptop with Spanish keyboard (which I don’t have) or work on them at my CIDE office (which has a desktop with Spanish-language keyboard).

Preparing lectures

In the end, I think it’s a great idea for a Spanish-speaking institution to offer courses in English. All German, Dutch and French universities I know that have massive international students’ populations do. But even if it’s only Spanish-speaking students, reading in English and absorbing lecture material in English enables them for when they go on exchange to non-Spanish-speaking countries (all undergraduate students at CIDE are expected to go on international exchanges around their 6th semester).

Also, given the massive influx of foreign hires we just had at the Region Centro campus, this task (teaching in English) should be way easier (we recently hired a British professor, two Americans, one Indian, one French, one Portuguese and we already had a Brazilian). Over

Posted in academia, teaching.

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