Category: Students’ Voices

Students' Voices

Art History is our Own History

By Genesis Hernandez Nunez, AEP Student, Keiser International Language Institute

When people see and analyze a painting, a drawing, or a sculpture, they do not only stand in front of some pieces of art, but they also behold a society, an exact moment in time, a specific topic, and a range of different issues. For this reason, art can prove to be an interesting career to pursue. Students could understand the past, learn about periods, artists, techniques and styles while developing another perspective to see the world. Just like fire, art has been part of the human race since the beginning of civilization, and it can reveal more than we think.

First of all, people who study art history can have a better understanding of the past because art is closely related to memory. In other words, through art we can learn what our origins are. For example, “photography has been around for less than 200 years, film is even more recent, and digital images are relatively newcomers. If we want to see any person that existed prior to these technologies, we must rely on an artist” (Why Should I Study Art History?). Also, works of art can depict stories about legends, families or wars. To illustrate this, take “Guernica” by Picasso, a painting about a civil war that took place in Spain from 1936 to 1939. Likewise, “Las Meninas” of Velazquez was painted in 1656 and it is about the family of King Charles IV.

Furthermore, art history teaches students about periods, artists, their techniques and styles. It will become a new field of knowledge, totally different from what they have learned so far. An additional benefit of art history is that it “helps to develop communication skills and promotes interdisciplinary thought. Art history can provide students with basics and original skills in critical and visual thinking like attention to detail, creativity, self-discipline and appreciation of aesthetics” (Art History). If someone studies art history, that person will never see a sculpture of Bernini just like a masterpiece. This person will see beyond that.

Finally, studying art history will open a new window to see the world, a different point of view. It will change the mindset of people. “The discipline (art history) encourages humanity and sympathy by teaching about other individuals and societies through their visual expression. Art history provides intellectual confidence gained through learning how to recognize, order, and interpret facts” (Why art history?). People will appreciate beauty, ugliness, tragedy and drama from a whole new perspective.

Art history gives us the chance to visit a different world in order to understand our own. If someone decides to open this door, it will be the first step to become and open-minded person, more sensible, more understanding and critical. To learn and transmit how art influences our lives is a contribution to humanity.

References
“Art History”. Lansing Community College. Web. March 16, 2016. http://www.lcc.edu/cma/art_history/

“Why Art History?”. School of Arts and Sciences. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Web. March 16, 2016. http://arthistory.rutgers.edu/menu-ii/academica/why-arthistory

“Why Should I Study Art History?”. About.com. 24 Nov. 2014. Web. March 16, 2016. ttp://arthistory.about.com/od/help_advice_for_students/t p/Why-Should-I-Study-Art-History.htm

MultimediaStudents' VoicesVideos

Five to 5


Is speaking necessary to find love?
The short film was recorded for the second meeting of Kino Managua Movement

Credits
Production: Arielka Juarez (AEP Student)
Director: Bismark Martinez
Photograph Director: Nicolas Abaunza
Production designer: Grace González
Sound Engineer: Stephan Pillon.
Script: Jhon Matamoros

Students' VoicesWorld View

The Importance of English in Today’s Society 

by AEP Level 6 Students (May 2016)

It is paramount to speak English nowadays since it gives all kinds of opportunities in communication, life quality, and education. First of all, English breaks down communication barriers because it is a lingua franca. In other words, English is the most commonly used language among foreign language speakers. Throughout the world, when people with different languages come together they commonly use English to communicate. That also means that a vast majority of people around the world can speak use this language for different purposes; for example, a multicultural meeting and a chat with a foreigner unable to speak the local language  are some of the situations where English is used as lingua franca. Second, English speakers are very likely to have good job opportunities. For instance, most of the English-speaking countries, such as England and the United States are countries with a high gross domestic product and where speaking English is the best way to get job opportunities. Therefore, the standard of living of these people can improve considerably. Finally, English- speaking countries have the best education offer in the world. In order to enter prestigious universities, such as Harvard University, Stanford University, and Oxford University, it is necessary for candidates who want to study there to speak English. Also, these countries offer lots of scholarships for foreigners that want to study in some of their universities; the only requirement besides being a good student is to have a good level of proficiency in English. In conclusion, speaking English is very important for tourists, professionals, and students who want to be successful.
(Moises Tercero)

There are three main reasons why English is important in our everyday life. First of all, English speakers have better education chances to study abroad and can get high quality education from universities such as Harvard. In addition, English speakers can broaden their world knowledge. Second, people who are proficient in that language have better job opportunities since English is the dominant business language and it has become almost a necessity for people to speak it if they are to enter a global workforce. Its importance in the global market place therefore should not be undervalued or underestimate. Indeed, learning English can really change one`s life in terms of access to jobs. For instance, employees could opt for higher job positions in different some companies such as call centers. , they could also work either as translators or English instructors. Finally, bilingual people have a better standard of living. As they have well-paid jobs, their purchasing power is higher than that of other professionals. In brief, everyone should make an effort to learn English because they may have more chances to succeed in many fields.
(Leyder Lopez)

Learning English is very important nowadays for three main reasons. First, people who speak English have more opportunities. For example, they can attend classes at a prestigious university because the majority of them are located in English speaking countries. Also, English- speakers get better job opportunities since English is the “lingua franca” in business meetings, for instance. Second, English is spoken in almost every country. For example, the signs in most of the international airports are in the local language and in English. Besides, when one travels to a foreign country like Japan or Korea people try to communicate with visitors in English. Finally, most of the scientific documents are written in English. When scientists discover something new, they publish the information in that language. Furthermore, there are more scientific books in English than in any other language. To conclude, English is a very important language not only in English-speaking countries but also in the world.
(Cesar Arguello)

Nowadays speaking English is a key factor to become a successful person. This means that English plays an important role in preparing people to become more versatile professionals. Additionally, it allows them to communicate with people from around the world. For example, in soccer games, the referee has to speak English in order to communicate with players from around the world. Another example is that many of the world’s top films, books and music are published and produced in English. Therefore by learning English one can have access to a great wealth of entertainment and will be able to have a greater cultural understanding. Even though it is difficult to achieve a prefect pronunciation, it is important to understand the grammar structure of English. This allow us to speak more clearly and to make ourselves understand.  Although learning English can be challenging and sometimes be very expensive, money is not wasted because one pays to learn something that will be a crucial part of one’s success. Whether one lives in Latin America or in China, we should all learn English to have the opportunity of sharing experiences and even work with people from around the world. To conclude, English allows us to enrich our knowledge of other cultures and to become successful people.
(Alfredo Gutierrez)

English Language TrainingStudents' Voices

ELT Certification Sucesss Story

by Carlos Barreras

Josef Albers once said that “good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.” This is a quote that very accurately describes why I enrolled in the English Language Teaching (ELT) certification program provided by Keiser University. It also describes how all the incredible capable instructors who were part of this project always encouraged every single one of us, teachers, to push ourselves to the best version of teachers we could possibly be. They did so by partnering with none other than Pearson, which is a leading institution in the language teaching field and offered  first-class resources whenever we needed them. Both institutions provided a variety of academic modules such as: Understanding Language Teaching and Learning, Factors in Language Learning and Sociocultural Factors in Language Learning, among others, that have prepared me not only academically  but also, and perhaps most importanly, integrally as a  teacher.

First of all, the organizers of the ELT program  were able to see the big picture of English learning across the world, where the number of learners of this language worldwide has reached up to 1.5 billion people. This fact enabled instructors to develop and train us taking into account not only the local aspects but also the global audience of EFL and ESL teachers. They did this by providing us with a set of interactive mul- multimedia teacher training modules that combine text, video, audio, PowerPoints, discussion, and quizzes that required our full attention and study.

Also, it is  worth mentioning that the writing assignments, such as essays, played an important role in the success of the program. These writing tasks provided an excellent opportunity for reflecion as well as personalization. Additionally, we  received personalized feedback from our instructors on these assignments, so they became an important component of each lesson that  contibuted to the in-depth analysis of such tasks. For this reason, although the essays had to be completed individually,  we always felt as if our instructor were by  our side.

Another aspect that was vital in my success throughout this program were the peer observations which were carried out along with many of the writing assignments. Peer observations were, without a doubt, an enormously valuable tool for learning about teaching and English learning in real contexts. Similarly, the focus on a variety of issues concerning English language teaching and learning about behaviorist, cognitivist and constructivist theories, among others,  has been tremendously helpful. Thus, it is fair to say that this blend of theory and practice that Keiser University along with Keiser’s International Language Institute provided us with proved to be a perfect combination to form an exceptional group of professionals.

In the academic field, Teaching English as a Second Language is a high-demand subject of instruction that continues to experience growth in schools and universities across the world. As people from foreign countries continue to immigrate to the United States and enroll in schools here, the number of students whose native language is not English continues to grow. English, as the primary spoken language in a country with a rich history of immigration and cultural diversity, English and its mastery are an important part of educational development, for which, academically speaking, this English teaching certification has prepared me for. Whatever your field of education may be, this certification meets all the standards required for different levels and contexts in which the participants might choose to work at.

As a professional myself who is currently living and teaching at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the United States, I understand firsthand the high standards of English teaching required by global education systems, students and society. This certification has, on the one hand, built on the knowledge I previously carried from my undergraduate TEFL program. On the other hand, it has proven to successfully meet international standards for which I can personally give testimony.

In terms of personal growth as a teacher, I reinforced and added the qualifications, skills as well as abilities needed to become not just a regular teacher but a well rounded one. Thus, I explored the journey of becoming an effective teacher, mantaining enthusiasm and preventing burnout, taking into account, of course, the challenges and complexities that such responsibility entails.

At some point in our lives, we all have been students and unquestionably remember some of our teachers in our professional lives. As a teacher myself, I have  asked myself questions like, how can I  become a good teacher? How can I learn useful and effective teaching techniques? How do I know my teaching is fruitful and my techniques are working? And how do I stay an enthusiastic and effective teacher throughout my career? All of these questions are not easy  to answer. In fact, I would argue that these questions require a high level of complexity due to the variety of material and teaching practices all over the world. Consequently, the incredible success of this English Teaching Certification  lies on these very specific type of questions and the professional instructors that made them.

Finally, I have to say that this certification would not have been possible without the tireless work and vast knowledge of all the professional, knowledgeable and experienced instructors that guide me throughout this journey.  I’m thankful for all the peers that shared this  incredible journey with me. Last but definitely not least, all of this work and effort is now a reality due to the vision and commitment of the president of Keiser Latin American Campus, Mr. Mathew Anderson, and the director of International Language Institute Ruffo Torres. I encourage any person who wants to be a part of this renowned certification to go ahead and  pursue it. Rest assured that this accreditation will be part of your personal and professional experience in the foreseeable future wherever you go.

Learning and Skills DevelopmentStudents' Voices

AEP Students’ Responses to Reading

by Level 4 AEP students (Jan 2014)

As a writing task, an instructor asked her students in level four of the AEP (Academic English Program) to write a brief response about their reading habits and their viewpoints on the reading culture in Nicaragua. They ended up submitting the following reactions:

Most people in Nicaragua do not like to read because they think that it is a waste of time. However, reading is a good habit that everybody should develop. When people build it, they gain new knowledge, learn about other cultures, and get into different imaginary worlds. As a student of English, I am in the habit of reading a book per month, and I do it because it helps to improve my vocabulary and grammar. In my opinion, reading in English is easier than writing, and I know that there is a relationship between them. If people read more, it would be easier for them to write. (Leyder Lopez)

Nicaraguan students are not in the habit of reading because schools do not teach them how to read a book properly. I think that reading can help students improve their concentration, enrich their vocabulary and develop reading strategies. Nevertheless, in my case I do not like to read because I find it hard to focus, so I do not read unless someone instructs me to do so. (Gabriela Gurdian)

Reading contributes to developing one’s imagination. Unfortunately, the majority of people around the world do not like reading because they prefer to watch TV, play video games or listen to audio books. I believe Nicaraguan people do not like to read for the same reasons or because they do not have time or do not really appreciate the value of reading. (Cesar Arguello)

Reading is one of the best activities that people can do to exercise their brain. There are several reasons to make reading a habit. For example, reading develops one`s imagination, it keeps citizens updated about the latest news, and it helps them to learn a foreign language. However, watching TV is a more popular activity than reading a book. Reading English is pretty helpful for English learners. Indeed, this activity is easy, and it contributes to improving learners’ grammar, learning new vocabulary and developing speaking and writing skills. As a conclusion, reading is a beneficial activity, so it can really change people’s life. (Moises Tercero)

I prefer reading books to watching TV. I like being exposed to new sentence structure and learning new words and build up my vocabulary. Likewise, I think that writing in English becomes easy as result of reading. If people read English books, they will learn how to write. I think, people in Nicaragua should read more often to enrich their lives and grow more professionally. (Josue Camacho)

Reading in English has two important characteristics. First, it can help students improve their English, gain new knowledge and help them with their grammar. Second, reading in English is a good habit. Readers can find good information that can help them in their daily life and job; yet public schools in our country do not teach elementary school students to read effectively, so they do not develop this useful habit. Instead, they prefer watching TV to reading a book. On the other hand, private elementary schools teach their students to read more properly, so these learners have interesting conversation topics. In addition, students can share information and recommend books to their classmates and friends. In conclusion, reading is a good habit that helps people to become more knowledgeable. (Grethel Perez Galo)

Classroom and MethodologiesStudents' Voices

TEFL Students’ Performance of Gueguense Play

by Roger Calderon, Seydi Rosales, and Katherine Espinoza (FAREM-Carazo TEFL Major)

“El Güegüense”, originally composed in a mixture of Spanish and Nahuatl, is one of the oldest and most representative theatrical works in Nicaraguan culture.  The play shows the rejection of  Spanish  domination by mocking and ridiculing colonial authority.

At UNAN-MANAGUA, FAREM – CARAZO  a group of freshman and junior students  of the English  major adopted this play as a learning tool and incorporated it into their classroom activities.  The experience enabled them to improve their pronunciation and their communication skills both verbally and non-verbally.  Besides, the students learnt how to work in groups and interact with people of different ages and opinions. Xiomara Valverde,  the head of Educational Sciences and Humanity Department, took the initiative to produce the theatrical play and  delegated all the responsibility to Kennya Ortiz, who was in charge  of inviting all students of the English  degree program to participate and promote creativity and fellowship among students as well as inject new dynamism into the aforementioned program. .

Fifteen students, most of whom were freshman, participated in the performance of the play. Their participation posed a great challenge because of the low level of English proficiency and their lack of skill at dancing. However, encouraged by their instructors and classmates, the acting students rose to the challenge and successfully performed the play. For junior students the theatrical piece also presented a great challenge because it was the first time ever they were going to act out a play that  was originally created in Spanish, but that had now to be performed in English.

Fortunately, to give life to the play through the performance of  each  member and convey  the intended message,   the group of acting students were assisted and guided by Mr. Francisco Espinoza, a drama teacher who with his great work and experience, helped students to improve their corporal expression. To perform “El Güegüense” dance, the students received training from the dance instructor Wilmer Guevara, who taught students the different steps and routines they had to perform in the choreography.

During the dance rehearsal of the play, there were some inconveniences for students because of the different schedules, late arrivals to the rehearsals and reluctance to accept their respective mistakes, yet they managed to create a positive working environment.

Speaking English in public and being afraid of  making mistakes  are  some of the main factors  that prevent students  from developing their speaking skills , but  by performing the play  they  learned that as future English teachers,  they  should be able to  learn from  their own mistakes so as to grow professionally.

In terms of pronunciation, the students who partook in the play were able to improve because of the constant feedback they received from their instructors.  The acting students could also enrich their vocabulary because they had to use new words that convey the intended message of the whole play.  Additionally, the learners enhanced their fluency, and were able to overcome their fear of speaking in public because they gained more confidence and became less inhibited.

The play was presented on November 11th 2015, to commemorate the XXIV anniversary of FAREM-Carazo, at the “Eliseo Carranza” auditorium. Local education officials, teachers, and students from the same campus attended the event which included different types of activities such as opening ceremony, speeches, cultural performances, folkloric dances and “El Gueguense” play, divided into five scenes.

The repertoire of characters included three governors, four Gueguenses, four sheriffs, one Don Ambrosio, one mister royal secretary, four Don Forcicos, three ladies, Doña Suche Malinche among them and four male mules that were played by the same actors. Some of the members had to play more than one character because the scripts were too long and memorizing  them would be easier. Members of the dance group of the faculty performed cultural dances between scenes transitions.

“El Gueguense” is not just a play but a cultural representation of Nicaraguan idiosyncrasy that has stood the test of time.  The students are sure that with their performance  they will be able to remember the cunning and ingenious way  “El Gueguense” mocked at the establishment. Briefly, this particular group of students have the iconic theatrical play not only written in their books, but it is also etched in their minds and hearts.

Students' Voices

The Use of Web Apps at the AEP

by Francisco Morales

For many years, I have been using a variety of devices and applications to improve my skills and productivity as a doctor. I think of technology as a toolbox which helps us in everyday life as soon as we understand how and where to use it. Recently, as a student in the Academic English Program (AEP) at Keiser University, I had the opportunity to double-check the necessity of using technology in our daily tasks. The AEP introduces students to a vast use of web applications.

Firstly, most of web applications are oriented to reinforcing the link between students and teachers. For instance, when I was in level eight, we had to work on a research paper, and we wrote it on Google Docs and saved it in Google Drive. The use of these web apps helped the teacher to correct my writings without wasting time on printing and submitting. Currently, a huge percentage of the corrections were in real-time, and I did not need to stand up and disturb the teacher every time I need to consult something, even though I had the right to do it. He sent me the suggestions and I was able to take advantage of the time to look for the possible corrections. The practice was very convenient.

Secondly, AEP instructors use MyEnglishLab as an alternative to traditional homework in lower levels. Besides, MyEnglishLab, also referred as “the platform” by many students, is an online web application used by teachers to assign grammar homework to their students. The exercises are very clear and include a brief review of the main topics in its grammar chart, just like a book does. The main difference between the traditional workbook and this web application is the real-time feedback students receive. Using the platform, I did not have to wait until the teacher checked my homework, in case he was able to. I received a real-time feedback from MyEnglishLab, including a short explanation about my mistakes. As an English learner, I had the time to look for more information about my mistakes and prepare myself for the next day’s classes. In addition, I did not have to buy any books or carry them every day in every level.

Thirdly, teachers promoted the use of web applications to improve our TOEFL Skills. From level five to level eight, we have been working on TOEFL Skills, and teachers assigned us different tasks based on TOEFL exercises. Similar to MyEnglishLab, I could receive a real-time feedback from the different web applications we used, and I practiced all the areas. Ranging from reading to listening exercises, the continuity of facing us with these types of assignments reinforced myself with the necessary abilities to overcome the TOEFL.

One of these web applications that deserves a special mention is ReadTheory. As a doctor, I used to read a lot on my native language, but reading in English and comprehending are totally different things. It was not so easy at the beginning, but practice makes perfect, and it is here where ReadTheory takes place. On the website, we had meaningful readings sorted by different levels of comprehension, as well as questions for every reading. Every mistake I made had a clear explanation, and those pieces of advice are very useful. From the time that my teacher gave me access to this website, I started reading at least one or two passages per day. Now, I am a very fast reader, and my vocabulary has increased a lot too. Thus, I am satisfied with all the practice I received.

In brief, I am very grateful for having had the chance to use different tools to improve my abilities as an English learner instead of those old-fashioned learning techniques.

Students' Voices

Our Art vs. Craft Experience

Level 7 & 8 Students (June 2015)

Students from levels 7 and 8 of the Academic English Program had the chance to present their Art and Craft projects. The project consisted of elaborating both a sewn piece of cloth to craft a quilt and a painting that later they had to show and tell to the rest of their classmates. Besides, they posted their artistic creation on the Language Institute bulletin board.  Altogether, students experienced and tried to transmit their emotions through art and craft. Below you will read individual comments from their experiences in the order of appearance in the picture starting from left to right.

All is about different perceptions. Every single work includes both art and craft because we usually require instructions, but we also let ourselves flow. As Mary-Frances said, “My art is what I make; my craft is the skills I have learned to do it well.” –Camilo Zeledón, “The Tree of Life”.

I enjoy studying mathematics for long hours, so I do not usually spend time doing recreational activities. However, I had always wanted to meet the artist within me, and thanks to this terrific experience I was able to achieve it. –Adonis Gómez, “Peaceful Bedroom”.

‘’ Beyond the eyes ‘’ was how I called my artwork. You can perceive it as a simple painting, but it has an important message that I wanted to transmit through it. What I experienced while I was painting it was that my imagination, feelings, and mood influenced it. As a result, I got an extraordinary vision of the world I desire to live. When I saw the painting, I felt like in another world where everyone is different in the way of thinking.  People being open minded never limit themselves to achieve as desired. I’m pretty sure that once you admire ‘‘Beyond the eyes”, you will feel a bond between you and the painting-Lineth Castillo, “Beyond the eyes.”

My experience in this project was very satisfactory because I learned many differences between these types of art. Also, at the moment you begin to do your work, you start to wonder and ask yourself if it is art or craft.-Indira Olivas, “Songs mixed with colors.”

I liked the activity since it was new to me. I had never painted nor sewed, but my quilt and painting looked beautiful. Now, I can say that I have talent, and I can get a job as a craftsperson. –Mario Sandoval,  “Mix of Colors“.

I felt euphoric since I did a good job with my quilt and painting. Also, I liked the activity because I learned how to sew and paint. I expressed some feelings in the painting such as optimism and perseverance. –Kevin Pérez, “Never Give Up”.

My art-and-craft experience was amazing since I learned how to transform a poem into a painting by relating my feelings to it. Nevertheless, beholding my art-and-craft work was just astonishing because they created more feelings on me than the ones I was expecting. –Abner Sándigo, “Ms. Moon.”