The ALC-GELI Report For IATEFL ESP Issues

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The ALC-GELI Report For IATEFL ESP Issues

Mr. Eduardo Garbey Savigne, BEd, Cert TEB, MA,

Havana Medical Sciences University,

ALC-GELI Board member


Ms. Mercedes Aluart Rodriguez, BEd,

Manuel Fajardo Medical School

ALC-GELI Board member


(Published ln IATEFL.  Professional and Academic English.  ESP Journal of the English for Specific Purposes Special Interest Group.  April 2011.  Issue 37. pp: 34-35. ISSN: 1754-6850. )



The ALC-GELI (the Cuban Linguists Association and its group of English Language Specialists) held its 19th Convention at the Enrique J. Varona Pedagogical University campus during the 9th and 11th December 2010.  About 136 teachers or EFL specialists attended this event, including 17 undergraduate students who are at present doing their final years at the foreign language schools of the Varona Pedagogical University and the Havana University.

This 19th ALC-GEI Convention was unique in the sense that all presenters were Cubans. This is the first time in which there is no foreign participant attending the Convention. In previous years, we were always honored with the participation of outstanding teachers from IATEFL. Big names such as Henry Widdowson, Dick Allwright Jeremy Harmer, Michael Swan, Catherine Walter, Ronald Carter, just to mention some, and teachers from the Latin-American region have attended this convention which is held every December.

The opening plenary session was a panel of teachers who talked about the literacy project in Canada conducted by a Cuban team of teachers of English who spent about two years in Canada working in the project. It was very inspiring to learn about the contribution of Cuban English teachers to First World Adult literacy through ArrowMight Canada (AMC) Learning for Life, based on a previous experience in New Zealand where another team of Cuban teachers provided assistance to develop Greenlight Learning for Life which started in 2002.

A unique and single feature of the ALC-GELI convention is the celebration of special interest symposium about some English-speaking countries or region: United Kingdom, Canada and the Caribbean. This year the Caribbean studies symposium was dedicated to education in Jamaica. The Cuban panelists presented their first-hand experience in the different educational levels where they taught. Through their presentation, the audience was able to learn about the life, cultural background, pride and spirit of Jamaicans.  It was one of the most interesting and highly appreciated sessions by the participants.

The launching of Approach, the ALC-GELI journal, was also a key note as it was its 10th edition. It contained interesting articles, which tackled issues such as Error correction, Teaching the Cultural aspect of language to EFL, The Use of Mother tongue in Second Language teaching,  The integration of Content in Teacher  training programs, Job interview skills: An ESP teacher task?  and some others. This last topic is without any doubt, a needed skill to be developed in a near future as Cuba´s international ventures in healthcare are becoming increasingly demanded in the international arena and many foreign medical and nursing boards come to Havana to select and recruit the best candidates for their posts. 

Several of the papers presented were mostly within the ESP fields such as:  Medicine, Nursing, Radio and TV, Film industry, Tourism, Sports and Physical training, and ICT. All of them are a reflection of how much the teaching of English for Specific Purposes in Cuba has developed, it shows the several changes it has gone through and the different fields it has tackled.

There were two final plenary sessions. One was about Incorporating Learning Technologies to the teaching of English by teachers at the Information Sciences University whose main mission is to train the future Cuba ICT wizards and professionals of the digital era.

And, finally a touching presentation was Tom is a Boy, Mary is a Girl[1][1], life and work of Leonardo Sorzano Jorrín , an outstanding Cuban teacher of English who is undoubtedly a paradigm  in EFL and was the first to initiate ESP teaching in Cuba. It was an excellent ending for a professional meeting.

[1][1] Tom is a boy; Mary is a girl is the first two sentences of one of the English course books written by Professor Leonardo Sorzano Jorrin. Many Cuban citizens, who are in their fifties or more, even if they do not know English when asked if they know some English they jokingly say these two sentences.