Background to the programmer The English language curriculum implemented in 1993 constituted an important step forward regarding the way language teaching was conceived in basic education. Attention shifted from structure and translation, and began to concentrate more heavily on communication.
However, a change at the conceptual level is not enough to have an impact on the classroom. True change is change in practice, one that reflects a clear and coherent relationship between beliefs and behavior while in action. An exploratory study conducted during 2001–2002 in over 100 state secondary schools in Mexico showed that little “change in practice” has occurred since 1993. The analysis of the 1993 in actual practice raised some issues, which have, to some extent, guided the process of curricular innovation.
First, and perhaps most important, is the fact that the programmer did not achieve its aims: students who complete secondary education cannot communicate in English, and they rarely develop other non-linguistic skills. Second, a lack of appropriate means for the diffusion and implementation of the approach caused misunderstandings and false charities among st teachers; changes do not seem to have been well assimilated. An example of this can be seen in teachers’ most ‘common practices’: reading aloud, translating, making lists of vocabulary, repeating in chorus, among st others, all of which are very distant from what is suggested in the 1993.
Finally, the lack of precise standards regarding the language level teachers needed to implement the 1993, together with the lack of mechanisms to guarantee a minimum level of achievement for students upon completion of secondary education, limited the quality of foreign language learning and teaching.