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MATEFL Organizes Seminar for EFL Teachers

2 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — On September 15, the American University of Armenia (AUA) College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (MATEFL) program organized a seminar for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers on “From Educational Reform to the Classrooms: Learning From the Uruguayan Experience.”

The seminar was led by well-known experts from Uruguay, Aldo Rodriguez and Javier Polatian. Professor Aldo Rodríguez serves as the director for language policies at Administración Nacional de Educación Pública. In addition to his role as a secondary school teacher, Professor Rodríguez is a teacher trainer, book author, researcher, educational consultant, and responsible for teaching foreign languages in the country, including Eastern Armenian. 

Professor Javier Polatian has 15 years of experience and is a secondary school teacher, researcher, and educational consultant for the Armenian General Benevolent Union Uruguay. He has actively contributed to the development of materials for Armenian as a foreign and second language, competency-based learning, and active methodologies.

The focus of the seminar was motivated by the current educational reform in Armenia. During the seminar, the speakers introduced participants to key concepts such as competency-based instruction, project-based learning, and formative assessment. They placed emphasis on teaching methods that place the student at the center of learning and also covered assessment and evaluation approaches. Additionally, the presenters discussed some of the challenges and potential solutions for championing educational reform based on the Uruguayan experience. 

The central message of the workshop was about making a shift from a fixed mindset, where the teacher is at the center of the classroom, to a growth mindset that places the student at the forefront of the learning process. Professors Aldo Rodriguez and Javier Polatian emphasized the importance of prioritizing teaching competencies in lieu of elaborating on content. They stressed, “Our aim should be to teach students how to learn, rather than dictating what they should learn, as content can change, while competency remains perpetually relevant.” The workshop advocated for authentic and inquiry-based learning aimed at providing students with opportunities to analyze and synthesize information, essentially fostering a metacognitive learning framework.

The workshop ensured the proactive engagement of all participants. Monica Topchyan, an EFL teacher from Global Bridge, remarked, “At times, we teach language intuitively; the workshop addressed the common challenges faced by educators.” Another freelance online English teacher noted, “In online classrooms, teachers often impose limitations on themselves. However, the competency-based approach opens new horizons in teaching.”

At the end of the seminar, participants received certificates from the MATEFL program, recognizing their active participation and pursuit of professional growth.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.