On the Professional Development of English Teachers in Colombia and the Historical Interplay with Language Education Policies

Main Article Content

Adriana González-Moncada


The professional development of English teachers is a significant area in language teaching and learning, as well as in teacher education. On the one hand, at least in theory, professional development initiatives respond to the teachers’ changing needs. On the other hand, it reflects the beliefs that different educational authorities and stakeholders have about English uses and education. In this self-study, I consider the professional development of English teachers in Colombia and its tight connection to the language education policies of the country. Following a chronological approach, I present the findings as landmarks that have contributed to my reflections and research around professional development and language education policies.  Discussing the findings, I show how the discourses and decisions about teachers’ continuing learning represent certain views of language, second language acquisition, English language teaching and learning, and teachers as professionals. This self-study addresses some of the concepts that illuminate the discourses that have shaped English teachers’ professional development. Focusing primarily on the development of the National Program of Bilingualism, I underscore the power of these concepts over the major decisions made at the local and school levels. In the analysis of the past and present of teachers’ professional development in Colombia, I conclude on the necessity of maintaining critical scholarly work to contribute to the construction of local knowledge for future reflection.

Article Details

How to Cite
González-Moncada, A. (2021). On the Professional Development of English Teachers in Colombia and the Historical Interplay with Language Education Policies. HOW Journal, 28(3), 134-153. https://doi.org/10.19183/how.28.3.679
Reflections and Revision of Themes
Author Biography

Adriana González-Moncada, Universidad de Antioquia

She holds a doctoral degree in Linguistics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is a professor at the Universidad de Antioquia in the undergraduate and graduate foreign language teacher education programs. Her areas of academic work include teacher professional development, language policies, World Englishes, and ELF


Agray Vargas, N. (2008). ¿Qué le pide hoy la sociedad colombiana a un profesor de lenguas extranjeras? [What does the Colombian society demand from a foreign language teacher?] Signo y Pensamiento, 27(53), 352-357. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/860/86011529023.pdf
Álvarez, J. A., Cárdenas, M. L., & González, A. (2011). Cobertura vs continuidad: dos retos para el desarrollo profesional para los docentes de inglés en el marco de Colombia Bilingüe. In J. A. Bastidas, & G. Muñoz, Fundamentos para el desarrollo profesional de los profesores de inglés (pp. 119-154). Universidad de Nariño.
Angarita Trujillo, A. E., & Arias Castilla, A. (2010). Aproximación a los antecedentes del bilingüismo en Colombia y la formación de educadores bilingües. Horizontes Pedagógicos, 12(1).
Ayala, J., & Álvarez, J. A. (2005). A perspective of the implications of the Common European Framework implementation in the Colombian socio-cultural context. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 7, 7-26. https://doi.org/10.14483/22487085.162
Bayyurt, Y., & Sifakis, N. C. (2015). ELF-aware in-service teacher education: a transformative perspective. In H. Bowles & A. Cogo (Eds.), International perspectives on English as a lingua franca: Pedagogical insights (pp. 117-136). Palgrave Macmillan.
Blyth, C. (Ed.) (2003). The sociolinguistics of foreign-language classrooms: Contributions of the native, the near-native, and the nonnative speaker. Issues in Language Program Direction. Heinle.
Buendía, X., & Macías, D. F. (2019). The professional development of English language teachers in Colombia: A review of the literature. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 21(1), 80-102. https://doi.org/10.14483/22487085.12966
Cárdenas, M. L. (2006). Bilingual Colombia: Are we ready for it? What is needed? Proceedings of the 19th Annual English Australia Education Conference. Online. http://www.englishaustralia.com.au/ea_conference2006/proceedings/
Cárdenas M. L., González A., & Álvarez J. (2010). In-service English teachers’ professional development: Some conceptual considerations for Colombia. Revista Folios, 31(1), 49-68. https://doi.org/10.17227/01234870.31folios49.67
Cely, R. M. (2007). Programa Nacional de Bilingüismo: En búsqueda de la calidad en educación. Revista Internacional Magisterio, 25, 20-23.
Chaves, O., & Guapacha, M. E. (2016). An eclectic professional development proposal for English language teachers. Profile: Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 18(1), 71-96. https://doi.org/10.15446/profile.v18n1.49946
Clavijo, A., & Ramírez, M. (2018). Using self-study to examine our research and teaching practices as EFL teacher educators in Colombia. In J. Sharkey & M. Peercy (Eds), Self-study of language and literacy teacher education practices (pp. 37-53). Emerald Publishing Limited. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-368720180000030003
Cochran-Smith, M. (2006). Policy, practice, and politics in teacher education. Sage Publications.
Correa, D., & González, A. (2016). English in public primary schools in Colombia: Achievements and challenges brought about by national language education policies. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(83). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.24.2459
Correa, D., & Usma, J. (2013). From a bureaucratic to a critical-sociocultural model of policymaking in Colombia. HOW, 20, 226–24.
Correa D., Usma J., & Montoya J. C. (2014). National Bilingual Program: An exploratory study in the department of Antioquia, Colombia. Íkala, 19(1), 101-116.
Cronquist, K., & Fiszbein, A. (2017) English language learning in Latin America. The Dialogue.
Day, C. (2005). Stories of change and professional development. The costs of Commitment. In C. Day, A. Fernández, T. Hauge, & J. Møller (Eds). The Life and work of teachers. Routledge Falmer.
Day, C., & Sachs, J. (2004). Professionalism, performativity and empowerment: Discourses in the politics, policies and purposes of continuing professional development. In C. Day & J. Sachs (Eds.), International Handbook on the Continuing Professional Development of Teachers (pp. 3-32). Open University Press.
De Bot, K., & Weltens, B. (1995). Foreign language attrition. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 15, 151-164.
Díaz-Maggioli, G. (2003). Professional development for language teachers. Eric Digest EDO-FL, 03-03.
Diaz-Maggioli, G. (2004). Teacher-centered professional development. ASCD.
de Mejía, A. M. (2004). Bilingual education in Colombia: Towards an integrated perspective. Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 7(4), 381–97.
de Mejía, A. M. (2007). Visiones del bilingüismo y de la educación bilingüe en Colombia. Revista Internacional Magisterio, 25, 36–39.
Dinkleman, T. (2003). Self-study in teacher education: A means and ends tool for promoting reflective teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(1), 6-18. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487102238654
Duboc, A. P. (2018). The ELF teacher education: Contributions from postmodern perspectives. In T. Gimenez, M. El Kadri, & L. Calvo (Eds.), English as a lingua franca in teacher education: A Brazilian perspective (pp. 159-188). De Gruyter Mouton.
Duboc, A. P., & Siqueira, S. (2020). ELF feito no Brasil: Expanding theoretical notions, reframing educational policies [English made in Brazil]. Status Quaestionis, 2(19), 231-258. https://doi.org/10.13133/2239-1983/17135
Ellis, R. (1994). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford University Press.
Farren, P. (2016). Transformative pedagogy in the context of language teaching: Being and becoming. World Journal on Educational Technology: Current Issues, 8(3), 190-204.
Fessler, R., & Christensen, J. (1992). The teacher career cycle. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Firth, A., & Wagner, J. (2007). Second/Foreign language learning as a social accomplishment: Elaborations on a reconceptualized SLA. The Modern Language Journal, 91(s1), 800-819. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2007.00670.x
Flege, J., & Eefting, W. (1988). Imitation of a VOT continuum by native speakers of English and Spanish: Evidence for phonetic category formation. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America, 83(2), 729-740.
Flege, J., & Fletcher, K. (1992). Talker and listener effects on degree of perceived foreign accent. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America, 91(1) 370- 389.
Freeman, D. (1989). Teacher training, development and decision making: A model of teaching and related strategies for language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 23(1), 28-46.
Freeman, D. (2006). A Framework for teacher learning and development. Paper presented at the TESOL Symposium on English Teacher Development in EFL Contexts. Shantou University, China. (November 10). https://www.tesol.org/docs/default-source/new-resource-library/symposium-on-english-teacher-development-in-efl-5.pdf?sfvrsn=0&sfvrsn=0
Gardner, R., Lalonde, R. N., & MacPherson, J. (1985). Social factors in second language attrition. Language Learning, 35(4), 519-540. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1985.tb00359.x
Gardner, R., Lalonde, R. N., Moorcroft, R., & Evers, F. T. (1987). Second language attrition: The role of motivation and use. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 6, 29-47. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X8700600102
Gimenez, T., El Kadri, & Calvo, L. (Eds.) (2018). English as a lingua franca in teacher education: A Brazilian perspective. De Gruyter Mouton.
Glaser, B. G. (1998). Doing grounded theory: Issues and discussions. Sociology Press.
Gómez Sará, M. M. (2017). Review and analysis of the Colombian foreign language bilingualism policies and plans. HOW, 24(1), 139-156. https://doi.org/10.19183/how.24.1.343
González, A. (1995). Language attrition and retention among nonnative speakers of English [Doctoral dissertation]. State University of New York at Stony Brook.
González, A. (2003). Who is educating EFL teachers? A Qualitative Study of In-service in Colombia. Íkala, 8(14), 153-172.
González, A. (2007). Professional development of EFL teachers in Colombia: Between colonial and local practices. Íkala, 12(1), 309–332.
González, A. (2009a). Reflexiones sobre el bilingüismo en Colombia [Reflections on bilingualism in Colombia]. Revista El Educador, 2(7), 24-30.
González, A. (2009b). On alternative and additional certifications in English language teaching: The case of Colombian EFL teachers’ professional development. Íkala, Revista de Lenguaje y Cultura, 14(22), 183-209.
González, A. (2015). ¿Nos han desplazado? ¿O hemos claudicado? El debilitado papel crítico de universidades públicas y los formadores de docentes en la implementación de la política educativa lingüística del inglés en Colombia. In K.A. Da Silva, M. Mastrella-de-Andrade, & C. A. Pereira Filho (Eds.), A formação de professores de línguas: políticas, projetos e parcerias (pp. 33-55). Pontes Editores.
González, A. (2020). English and English teaching in Colombia: Tensions and Possibilities in the Expanding Circle. In A. Kirkpatrick (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of World Englishes (2nd ed.) (pp. 371- 385). Routledge.
González, A., & Llurda, E. (2016). Bilingualism and globalization in Latin America: Fertile ground for nativespeakerism. In F. Copland, S. Mann, & S. Garton (Eds.), LETs and NESTs: Voices, views and vignettes (pp. 90-109). British Council.
González, A., & Sierra, N. (2005). The professional development of foreign language teacher educators. Íkala, 14(16), 11-37.
González, A.; Montoya, C.; Claudia; & Sierra, N. (2001). EFL Teachers look at themselves: could they grow together? HOW, special number 9, 27-33.
González, A., Montoya, C., & Sierra, N. (2002). What do EFL teachers seek in professional development programs? Voices from teachers. Íkala, 7(13), 29-50.
Grabe, W. (2010). Applied Linguistics: A twenty-first-century discipline. In R. B. Kaplan (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of applied linguistics (2nd ed.) (pp. 34-44). Oxford University Press.
Granados, C. (2015). Formación inicial de docentes de lenguas extranjeras. Nodos y Nudos, 4(39), 59-69. https://doi.org/10.17227/01224328.4356
Guerrero, C. H. (2008). Bilingual Colombia: What does it mean to be bilingual within the framework of the National Plan of Bilingualism? Profile: Issues in Professional Development, 10, 27–45.
Guerrero, C. H. (2010). The portrayal of EFL teachers in official discourse: The perpetuation of disdain. Profile: Issues in Teachers' Professional Development, 12(2), 34–49.
Harry, B., & Klingner, J. (2007). Discarding the deficit model. Educational Leadership, 64(5), 16-21.
Herazo, J. D., Jerez, S., & Lorduy, D. (2012). Opportunity and incentive for becoming bilingual in Colombia: Implications for Programa Nacional de Bilingüismo. Íkala, 17(2), 199–213.
Hernández, F., & Faustino, C. (2006). Un estudio sobre la enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras en colegios públicos de la ciudad de Cali. Lenguaje, 34, 217-250.
Hernández, L. J. (2007). Pertinencia de un modelo de metodología del inglés certificado internacionalmente. Revista Internacional Magisterio, 25, 32-35.
Holliday, A. (2006). Native-speakerism. ELT Journal, 60(4), 385-387. https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccl030
Hornberger, N. H., & Johnson, D. C. (2007). Slicing the onion ethnographically: Layers and spaces in multilingual language education policy and practice. TESOL Quarterly, 41(3), 509–532.
James, P. (2001). Teachers in action: Tasks for in-service language teacher education and development. Cambridge University Press.
Johnson, D. C. (2013). Language policy. Palgrave Macmillan.
Kachru, B. (1992). The other tongue: English across cultures. University of Illinois Press.
Kirkpatrick, A. (2007). World Englishes: Implications for international communication and English language teaching. Cambridge University Press.
Kostina, I., & Hernández, F. (2007). Competencia profesional del docente de lenguas extranjeras. In A. Aragón, I. Kostina, M. Pérez, & G. Rincón (Eds.) (2007). Perspectivas sobre la enseñanza de la lengua materna, las lenguas y la literatura (pp. 81-99). Facultad de Educación de la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.
Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Beyond methods: Macrostrategies for language teaching. Yale University Press.
Le Gal, D. (2018). Enseñanza del inglés en Colombia: Un necesario cambio de paradigma. Matices en Lenguas Extranjeras, 12.
Llurda, E. (2005). Looking at the perceptions, challenges, and contributions … Or on the importance of being a non-native teacher. In E. Llurda (Ed.) Non-native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges and contributions to the profession (pp. 1–9). Springer.
MacKenzie, L. (2020). Discriminatory job advertisements for English language teachers in Colombia: An analysis of recruitment biases. TESOL Journal, e535. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.535
Menken, K., & García, O. (Eds.). (2010). Negotiating language policies in schools: Educators as policymakers. Routledge.
Ministerio de Educación Nacional. (1996). Lineamientos curriculares en idiomas extranjeros. http://www.mineducacion.gov.co/1759/articles-339975_recurso_7.pdf
Ministerio de Educación Nacional. (2006a). Bases para una nación bilingüe y competitiva. Al Tablero, 37. https://www.mineducacion.gov.co/1621/article-97498.html
Ministerio de Educación Nacional. (2006b). Estándares básicos de competencias en lenguas extranjeras: inglés. Formar en lenguas extranjeras: ¡el reto! Lo que necesitamos saber y saber hacer. Series Guías No 22. MEN.
Ministerio de Educación Nacional (2013). Sistema colombiano de formación de educadores y lineamientos de política. https://www.mineducacion.gov.co/1759/articles-345485_anexo1.pdf)
Ministerio de Educación Nacional, (2016). Modelo para la implementación de un programa de formadores nativos extranjeros. http://aprende.colombiaaprende.edu.co/sites/default/files/naspublic/colombiabilingue/2%20Modelo%20de%20implementaci%C3%B3n%20-%20Resumen%20en%20espa%C3%B1ol.pdf
O’Malley, J. M. & Uhl Chamot, A. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge University Press.
Ortega, L. (2009). Understanding second language acquisition. Hodder Arnold.
Oxford, R. (1990). Language learning strategies. What every teacher should know. Heinle & Heinle.
Pennycook, A. (1998). English and the discourses of colonialism. Routledge.
Pessoa de Farias, L. F. (2015). Homogeneidade e intolerancia na linguagem [Homogeneity and intolerance in the language]. In S. C. Tavares de Souza & M. P. Roca (Eds.), Políticas linguísticas declaradas, praticadas e percebidas (pp. 463-496). Editora da Universidade Federal da Paraíba, Brazil.
Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford University Press.
Postholm, M. B. (2012). Teachers’ professional development: a theoretical review, Educational Research, 54(4), 405-429. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2012.734725
Quintero, A., & Guerrero, C. H. (2013). Of being and not being: Colombian public elementary school teachers’ oscillating identities. HOW, 20, 156-177.
Ramos Acosta, L. (2019). Reflexiones sobre la formación de docentes de lengua extranjera en Colombia. Revista Boletín Redipe, 8(7), 61-72. https://doi.org/10.36260/rbr.v8i7.777
Restrepo, M. C. (1995). Programa de formación y perfeccionamiento pedagógico, lingüístico y cultural en lenguas extranjeras [Unpublished manuscript]. Secretaría de Educación y Cultura de Antioquia. Dirección de Currículo. División de Educación Formal. Medellín.
Rubiano C., Frodden C., & Cardona G. (2000). The impact of the Colombian Framework for English (COFE) project: An insider’s perspective. Íkala, Revista de Lenguaje y Cultura, 5, 38-54.
Sachs, J. (2007). Learning to improve or improving learning: the dilemma of teacher continuing professional development. 20th Annual World International Congress for Effectiveness and Improvement. https://www.fm-kp.si/zalozba/ISBN/978-961-6573-65-8/009-020.pdf
Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers (2nd ed.). SAGE.
Samaras, A. P. (2002). Self-study for teacher educators: Crafting a pedagogy for educational change. Peter Lang.
Samaras, A. P., Hicks, M. A., & Garvey Berger, J. (2004). Self-study through personal history. In J. Loughran et al. (Eds.), The international handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices (part one) (pp. 905-942). Springer.
Sánchez, A. C., & Obando, G. (2008). Is Colombia ready for bilingualism? Profile: Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 9, 181–95.
Schön, D. (1986). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Basic Books.
Seidlhofer, B. (2006). English as a Lingua Franca in the Expanding Circle: What it isn't. In R. Rubdy & M. Saraceni (Eds.), English in the world: Global rules, global roles (pp. 40–50). Continuum.
Seidlhofer, B. (2011). Understanding English as a Lingua Franca. Oxford University Press.
Shohamy, E. (2006). Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. Routledge.
Shohamy, E. (2009). Language teachers as partners in crafting educational language policies? Íkala, 14(22), 45-67.
Sifakis, N. (2009). Challenges in teaching ELF in the periphery: The Greek context. ELT Journal, 63(3), 230-237.
Sifakis, N. C. (2014). ELF awareness as an opportunity for change: a transformative perspective for ESOL teacher education. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 3(2), 317-335.
Sifakis, N. C., & Bayyurt. Y. (2017). ELF-aware teacher education and development. In J. Jenkins, W. Baker, & M. Dewey (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook on English as a Lingua Franca (pp. 456-467). Routledge.
Siqueira, S. (2015). Inglês como língua internacional: Por uma pedagogia intercultural crítica. Estudos Linguísticos e Literários, 52, 321-356.
Schneider, E. W. (2018). World Englishes. Oxford research encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford University Press.
Spolsky, B. (2017). Language policy in education: History, theory, praxis. In T. McCarty & S. May (Eds.), Language policy and political issues in education (3rd ed.). Springer International Publishing.
Tollefson, J. W. (Ed.) (2002). Language policies in education: Critical issues. Lawrence Erlbaum.
Ur, P. (1997). Teacher training and teacher development: A useful dichotomy? The Language Techer, 21(10).
Usma, J. (2009). Education and language policy in Colombia: Exploring processes of inclusion, exclusion, and stratification in times of global reform. Profile: Issues in Teachers Professional Development, 11, 123-141.
Valencia, M. (2013). Language policy and the manufacturing of consent for foreign intervention in Colombia. Profile: Issues in Teachers' Professional Development, 15(1), 27–43.
Vanegas Rubio, L. E., & Zambrano Castillo, L. C. (1996). Plan de capacitación de inglés para profesores de primaria zona urbana del municipio de Neiva, Nivel introductorio I-II. Paideia Surcolombiana, 1(4), 37-44. https://doi.org/10.25054/01240307.931
Vélez-Rendón, G. (2003). English in Colombia: A sociolinguistic profile. World Englishes, 22(2), 185–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-971X.00287
Viáfara J. (2016). “I’m Missing Something”: (Non) Nativeness in Prospective Teachers as Spanish and English Speakers. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 18(2), 11-24. http://dx.doi.org/10.14483/calj.v18n2.947
Wallace, S. (Ed.) (2009). A Dictionary of education. Oxford University Press.
Weltens, B., & Grendel, M. (1993). Attrition of vocabulary knowledge. In R. Schreuder & B. Weltens (Eds.), The bilingual lexicon. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Weltens, B., & Cohen, A. (1989). Language attrition research: An introduction. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 11(2), 127-133.
Zambrano Leal, A. (2012). Formación docente en Colombia. Arqueología de la política pública y del escenario internacional. Educere, 16(54), 11-19.