Desarrollo profesional - Professional development

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The aim of this paper is to provide hints on how teachers in the ELT field could increase and make better his/her professional skills by developing continuous learning with a rewarding effort.

The authors would like to provide examples to show how these different events can help ELT teachers to grow professionally and they also advise new teachers on the road to professionalism, as working hard and having a clear mind about one’s professional development which is the key to success. Professional development implies the evolution from one state into a more advanced state. It requires getting a professional knowledge and a development of skills. On the other hand, the paper also aims to provide an opportunity for reflection on several issues which characterize professional development.



  1. Leydis Isaac Suarez   BEd EFL Instructor professor of English at Manuel Fajardo. Medical University of Havana.Address: Flores 407 Santos Suarez. 10 de Octubre. E mail: leydisaacc@
  2. Iliana M. Avila León BEd   EFL Instructor professor of English at Manuel Fajardo Medical University of Havana. Address: Ave Acosta 568 entre Mayia Rodríguez y Goss. Vibora. 10 de Octubre. Telephone number: 641 68 67. E mail: yly@ 
  3. María Mercedes Galvañy Peguero, BEd, EFL Assistant professor at Enrique Cabrera Medical School, University of Medical Sciences of Havana. Address: Calle 1ra No. 16804 A entre Tres Palmas y Lindero, Capdevila, Boyeros Telephone number: 645-4581 ID: 60041700772 E mail: mariamercy@



The aim of this work is to provide an example of how a relatively new teacher in the ELT field could increase and make better his/her professional skills by developing professional and continuous learning with a rewarding effort. Teacher development is viewed as a continuous process that begins with pre-service teacher preparation and spans the entire career of the teacher (Sithamparam and Dhamotharam 1992).  Teachers must work hard because working hard to grow professionally and having a clear mind about one’s professional development is the key to success.

Teaching English as a foreign language, especially for someone coming from a different foreign language background, requires a lot of effort and determination.

Murray, A (2010) states that “to be an effective teacher requires a combination of professional knowledge and specialized skills as well as your own personal experience and qualities”


Qualities which all EFL teachers should develop, so as to meet their students´ expectations such as: patience, sincerity, organization skills, punctuality, empathy, flexibility, open-mindness, professionalism, classroom management, knowledge, and security.   


There are several issues which characterize professional development:


Reflective teaching

Have you ever thought about your own lessons? Do you get any feedback from your students on your daily lessons? How do you know if your lessons are motivating and worth doing? Are you open to professional criticism?


Pennington (1992:47) defines reflective teaching as deliberating on experience. Reflection is the key component of teachers’ development because a critical thinking can help teachers move from a high level.

The focus of reflection is on effective application of skill and technical knowledge in the classroom. It is also focuses on cognitive aspects of teaching.


Peer teaching and mentoring


How often do you ask your peers to visit your classroom or you request permission to visit them? Do you discuss your tough teaching issues formally or just over a cup of coffee? Do you have a “model” teacher in your staff as a paradigm?


EFL teachers should spend some hours preparing lessons, trying to deliver dynamic and create lessons and listening to the older staff teachers. They also should observe some interesting lessons and start sort of reflective teaching, noting down ideas, recording some statements, etc. Learning from others is the key.


Colleagues less fortunate in terms of professional training can be helping within the department with their person playing the roles of coordinator, demonstrator, organizer, etc.  


At the pre-observation orientation session, teachers meet and discuss exactly the kind of lesson, methods, techniques, classes, etc; they would like to watch, whether in groups or in on a teacher to teacher basis.


Joining a teachers´ association

Cuban EFL teachers have an opportunity to join their English language teachers association whose acronym in Spanish is ALC GELI and attend its annual convention. Becoming a new member is another important step for being more professional. It is the chance to learn from others. And you also have the opportunity to become a member of IATEFL (International Association of teachers of English as a Foreign language) through WMS (Wider memberships Scheme) which gives the unique chance to worldwide teachers to become members of an international organization and be benefited of its professional opportunities, journals, opportunities for scholarships, etc.


Socializing with peers

EFL teachers are invited to attend in excellent activities known as Professional meeting and coffee which the GELI board organizes. These activities are relaxed, fun, memorable and interesting workshops. Sharing experience with some English teachers from different institutions and some of your colleagues give you the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones, exchange ideas and debate hot issues.


Attending qualification courses


Have you ever felt motivated for getting a Master or PhD’s degree?


Nowadays, anyone wishing to become a Master or PhD requires a previous professional development as basis for getting any of the abovementioned scientific degrees. Professionals from different backgrounds should become researchers in their field, attend conferences, workshops and publish papers and articles for a professional or academic journal of the field. All these experiences allow them to be better professionals.


Participating in workshops, conferences and presenting papers

Sharing experience with English teachers from different parts of the world and different institutions is a unique opportunity and a great chance to face and complete new tasks and challenges with the key purpose of increasing professional development.


New task and challenges

Teachers must have a reason for wanting to engage in teacher research. One of the most important conditions is motivation, which can be viewed as the belief, as opposed to the awareness, that the process will be beneficial to their work.

Research teachers can:

·        Appreciate the benefits of research,

·        Begin to understand in deeper and richer ways what they know from experience,

·        Explore the learning processes occurring in the classroom and attempt to interpret them.



To conclude I should recommend those who are new in the EFL teaching field or those whose background are in other foreign languages such as Russian, German or  Bulgarian  to be able to choose the best way to be always better professionals. If you want to be an excellent professional you will need a good bit of cultural background.

In addition to this, I must say that  you will be a qualified teacher not only having an EFL  methodological  background but also to be well informed  about culture, history, politics and daily events, and not only about your country but also the target countries, in order to be ready to discuss and share information with your students and peers.  EFL teachers as other professionals need to have notions of the target culture’s customs, habits and beliefs as an important intercultural communication value.



Schleppegrell Mary J “English for Specific Purposes: A Program Design Model” in Thomas Kral editor Teacher Development, Selected Articles from English teaching forum 1989-1993 USIA, 1994.

Hutchinson, T and Walters, A, (1999) English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge University Press, UK.

Mohamed , N 2006. Meaningful Professional Development. English Teaching Professional. Issue 42. Great Peter Street, SW1P 2XD, United Kingdom.


Murray, A . 2010. Empowering Teachers through Professional Development. English Teaching FORUM. Volume 48, Number 1. USA.


Pennington, M (1992) Reflecting on teaching and learning a developmental focus for the second language classroom. Perspectives on Second Language Teacher  Education. Hong Kong City, Polytechnic