The illusio of the foreign language standard in a Colombian university

Rigoberto Castillo, Alexandra Pineda-Puerta


The Ministry of education in Colombia set a policy for higher education in which graduates should achieve an intermediate proficiency level (B1) in another language; and by 2025 it expects that they leave college with an upper intermediate level (B2). This report deals with a private college that attempts to participate in the policy, yet the college has a requirement, not a foreign language policy. It offers their students 160 hours in which they hardly attain a high beginner level (A2). The Board of Directors of the college conducted a satisfaction survey that became
the first cycle of the action research study reported here. The sample of 624 EFL learners expressed dissatisfaction with the program and frustration with the approach and with the results. The situation mirrored what Bourdieu (1995) defines as the illusio, the belief that the “game” we collectively agree to play is worth playing, that the fiction we collectively elect to accredit constitutes reality. The authors conducted a second cycle to establish the source of dissatisfaction, and to identify the needs and wants of the stakeholders. The results indicate that the administrators expect that English reinforce disciplinary knowledge, while learners expect to learn to speak it, and teachers expect to teach grammar. A third cycle has been planned to propose a curriculum proposal that reconciles the allotments of resources of time, space, staff, content learning and language learning with a standard that meets the needs and expectations of the program. In other words we expect to make a proposal that corrects the collective misperception of reality
which constitutes a reality in itself.


doi: 10.5294/laclil.2016.9.2.8


College; foreign language; needs analysis; program evaluation; standards

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