USIA and English Language Teacher Training Support in
East Asia

USIA maintains two English language program offices in East Asia, both served by Regional English Language Officers. In Jakarta, Indonesia, the RELO is Mike Jenson, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the RELO is George Scholz.

English Teaching Fellows are assigned throughout the region: Joan Matlock at Beijing Normal University in Beijing, China; Merton Bland at the College of Social Science & Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam;  and Peter Quamo at the U.S. Information Service in Rangoon, Burma. Sherill Pociecha is assigned as an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) fellow to Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China.

USIS Manila and Specialist Mary Elizabeth O'Dowd Interact with Philippine Language Educators

Mary Elizabeth O'Dowd, EFL academic specialist from St. Michael's College in Vermont, took part in an international conference on Teacher Education at the University of the Philippines from June 27-July 3, addressing the topic "Bilingual Education and the Next Millennium." Conference participants included leading educators from several North American Universities, Japan, UNESCO and the International Reading Association, as well as the U.P. chancellor and several Philippine congressmen involved in educational issues. USIS Manila also programmed O'Dowd at another key Philippine university and arranged for her to participate in a roundtable discussion with Filipino and international delegates on the creation of an educators' network for ASEAN countries. In addition, Saint Louis University in the Philippines and O'Dowd's institution (St. Michael's) began discussions on the feasibility of a linkage to establish an English training center at the Saint Louis campus in Baguio City.

Two U.S. Academic Specialists Participate in Large Indonesian TEFL Conference

Dr. Mary Ann Christison, past President of TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Dr. Adrian Palmer conducted seminars and workshops and held consultations with a large variety of Indonesian English language professionals at various venues during June and July. Their main event was a national conference of over 700 EFL professionals sponsored by the Lembaga Bahasa Lia, the largest private language teaching organization in Indonesia. Among those participating was the country's Minister of Education.

USIS Rangoon’s English Teaching Fellow (ETF) Program Forms Basis for Outreach to Burmese English Teachers

The third of USIS Rangoon’s 1999 teacher training workshops, on teaching English writing skills, was held recently in Taunggyi, upper Burma. It was conducted by ETF Peter Quamo and contract English specialist David Gugin, an alumnus of the post’s ETF program. This year USIS has worked hard to make the expertise of Gugin and Quamo available to Burmese English teachers outside the Rangoon area. The four-day workshop, which had 48 registered and 12 observers, enabled the post to maintain close contact with the education establishment in this region of Burma. The English departments of both Taunggyi University and the Taunggyi Education College, both government institutions, turned out in force for the workshop. Participants encouraged USIS to conduct follow-up sessions soon and often.

In April USIS Rangoon’s monthly American English language program focused on environmental issues using Alaska, America’s 49th State, as the theme. The program, in examining the issue, introduced the audience of 132 Burmese students to the concept of sustainable development, still largely unknown in the country. It also looked at the Klondike gold rush and its effect on a major American writer (Jack London), unique Alaskan cultures (the Eskimo, Native American and Aleut), and the ongoing debate between economic developers and environmental conservationists. While sharpening their language skills, participants were exposed to the development-conservation debate and to the idea of compromise (economic progress which protects the environment) through discussion of issues rather than by edict. This approach highlighted citizen participation and the power of citizen’s groups when interacting with government and big business.

In the post’s June American English language program, which focused on the Fourth of July and American Independence, English teaching specialist David Gugin based language development activities and comprehension exercises on key dates and events in colonial America leading up to the Declaration of Independence. Again, while improving their language skills, the 140 student participants had the chance to learn something about how the American people built up to and eventually gained their independence and about the democratic government which was the whole point of the Revolutionary War.

Graduation of Tenth Session Direct English Teaching Classes in Burma

On May 7 USIS Rangoon held the graduation ceremony for the eight classes of 184 Burmese students enrolled in its direct English teaching program (DETP), marking the successful conclusion of the tenth session of the program. As part of the ceremony, a representative from each class made a short presentation followed by remarks from instructors Gugin and Quamo. Through its DETP, USIS Rangoon increases understanding of American society and values among the successor generation of Burmese youth and prepares them better to use USIS Rangoon resources and attend and benefit from USIS programs. Program participants, most of them university students in limbo since universities were closed in the wake of student disturbances in December 1996, expressed their respect and affection for their teachers, Quamo and Gugin, providing ample testimony to the impact the program is having on them. Student after student thanked USIS and their teachers for enabling them to participate in this English language program and improve their command of English and their understanding of American culture. The intense interest Burmese youths have in studying American English and learning about America is clear - classes every session are oversubscribed.

USIS Rangoon Sponsors Workshop on "How Teachers Improve"

On July 10 at USIS Rangoon's invitation, USIS Kuala Lumpur Regional English Language Officer (RELO) George conducted a half-day workshop for Rangoon's community of English teachers on "How Teachers Improve." The workshop strengthened the post's ties with Burmese English teachers and helped a newly formed EFL teachers organization establish itself as a viable professional organization. After 31 months of Burma's universities remaining closed, the workshop provided a little professional air for the teachers to breathe.

Monthly USIS Rangoon English Program Focuses on the Car and the U.S. Freedom to Travel

USIS Rangoon’s March English language program focused on Americans and their love affair with “the car,” emphasizing American cultural values of mobility and freedom. The audience consisted of 111 university students majoring in subjects as diverse as international relations, chemistry, medicine, and engineering. Program activities highlighted different aspects of American culture and the inventiveness of American young people in creating environment-friendly alternative modes of transportation. The program made the case for a citizen’s right to travel freely. The videos exposed participants to the interactive nature of American classroom learning and encouraged students to think for themselves and be creative, in this case to come up with innovative ideas for technology development in the transportation field.

USIS Manila Assists in Creation of EFL Association to Promote Teaching and Learning of English

On May 28-29 USIS Manila, Jakarta-based RELO and four major Philippine universities held a two-day workshop to create an educational NGO to reinforce the use of English as the world language of trade and economics, and to strengthen the Philippines’ position as the major English-language country in Asia. This enthusiastic group of dedicated professionals - a group of well-placed English professors and deans of different college and education departments - wrote a constitution and by-laws and developed a three-year action plan to guide the Association for English Research and Teaching in the Philippines (ASSERT-PHIL, later to be called TESOL-PHIL). In September ASSERT-PHIL plans to host an organizational meeting with founding members and interested educational professionals. The expected result of this exciting new educational NGO will be to inspire professors, students and future English professionals to learn new teaching techniques and the value of learning English.

Academic Specialists Major Contributors to English Teaching in Malaysia

From May 24-26 USIS Kuala Lumpur supported the annual Malaysian EFL conference (MELTA) with visiting profs. William Grabe and Fredricka Stoller, both from Northern Arizona University. (MELTA, the Malaysian English Teaching Association, is the major Malaysian association for English language educators.) Drs. Grabe and Stoller were also programmed in Penang. MELTA’s biannual conference draws over four hundred educators from all of Malaysia including key players from the Malaysian Ministry of Education and University Malaya (UM). The objectives of the program were to expose MELTA and Penang participants to the most recent American developments in L2 reading theory/practice and content-based instruction (CBI) and to lay the groundwork for further materials development in CBI using the study of America and Civic Education themes.

From June 7-18, the post programmed EFL academic specialist Heidi Shetzer, the webmaster for the University California Santa Barbara English program and co-author of a new text on using the Internet for English language education, to promote the use of American literature through Distance Learning (PROJECT ELLSA). The audience of 120 was composed mainly of teacher-trainers from the Ministry of Education. Shetzer provided workshops in web page construction/design of actual lessons from American literature which would then be posted on the ELLSA-WWW site, building on MinEd support for distance education as a low-cost alternative to more traditional deliveries of learning and on its encouragement of more extensive use of literature in Malaysian classrooms. This Academic Specialist visit has created further demand for American literature in distance and classroom learning, one of ELLSA's main goals. Shetzer's visit later resulted in one Malaysian institution (MARA) adopting the Agency’s E/ALM "American Literary Classics” series for its secondary school system.

RELO and USIS Bangkok Provide Support for Thai TESOL 19th Annual Meeting

The 19th annual meeting of Thai TESOL was held on January 21-23, with over 750 educators in attendance. RELO George Scholz provided funds for grants to ten Thai educators from outside of Bangkok to attend the conference. Scholz also presented a workshop at the conference on "Multiple Intelligence," drawing extensively from USIA's English Teaching Forum magazine. As a result, the demand for the Forum increased among Thai educators, with one of the plenary speakers also incorporating Forum material in his Thai TESOL session.

RELO Visits Banda Aceh Province; Makes Presentation to American Studies Association of Indonesia

In December, RELO Mike Jenson spent four days in the beleaguered province of Banda Aceh, consulting with university officials. He also conducted a three day intensive workshop for 60 teachers from 5 tertiary and 20 secondary level institutions. Upon his return to Jakarta, he made a presentation on current trends in TESOL and the use of U.S. cultural content in the English classroom to nearly 100 members of the American Studies Association of Indonesia and officials from the Indonesian Department of Education Office for Continuing Education.

English Language Specialist Anthea Tillyer Gives Keynote Address at National Seminar in Thailand

USIS Bangkok provided a grant to Chulalongkorn University's Language Institute (CULI) to enable Anthea Tillyer, founder of the TESL-L electronic network,to serve as keynote speaker at CULI's prestigious national seminar on "Continuing Education in English Language Teaching" from December 2-4, 1998. At the forefront of English teaching in Thailand, CULI seminars are a lightning rod of academic developments in Thailand. Ms. Tillyer can be credited with articulating the burgeoning importance of continuing education to those seeking to remain competitive in the global economy. In her keynote and workshop presentations, Ms. Tillyer described the demographic and sociological changes in the world fueling continuing education, stressing the particular importance of continuing education to English language learning since "English and technology have a symbiotic relationship." The world wide web, mainly in English, is one of many examples of how "technology is the facilitator and driver for continuing education." In her workshop, the speaker gave specific examples of new tools for continuing English language training. At the end of the seminar, several educators expressed appreciation for this glimpse into a future where lifelong learning is critical to continued competitiveness.

RELO Participates in Distance Education Symposium in Indonesia

RELO Mike Jenson and USIS library director Melling Simanjuntak gave a presentation on USIS resources and involvement in distance education at the fourth Symposium on Distance Education and Open Learning, "Technology and Educational Reform." The conference, which took place December 1-3, was sponsored by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Regional Open Learning Center and the Center for Communication Technology of the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. Key officials from most Government of Indonesia departments attended, as well as representatives from 6 regional governments from as far away as India and Japan.

ET Specialist Targets Reading and Literacy Issues

Dr. Neil Anderson of Brigham Young University presented seminars on reading and literacy to faculty in the Department of Education at the University of Malaysia, teacher trainers, Ministry of Education supervisors, and representatives from the State Library Association. Newspaper journalists at all three sites interviewed Dr. Anderson. The program, organized by RELO Scholtz (USIS Kuala Lumpur), supported "Project ELLSA," a project to use USIA-produced materials on American short stories in two secondary schools, and programs to introduce agency materials into a Sarawark district education project and Sabah Reading Education Program.

USIS Rangoon Organizes Program on American Sports and Culture

USIS Rangoon's monthly American English language program for November focused on American sports. The Wednesday program continues to serve as a magnet for Burmese students, with this particular program attracting around 110 university students majoring in subjects as diverse as international relations, chemistry, medicine, and engineering. It presented an overview of the major individual and team sports in America and examined the close relationship between American sports and American culture. The influence of American sports on American English, especially idiomatic English, was also a principal theme of the presentation. Conducted by David Eugin, USIS English Teaching Specialist, the program employed several English language development activities (listening comprehension and vocabulary-building, in particular). The participants watched a video clip from "George Michael's Sports Machine" and then discussed and completed a questionnaire about American society based on the video. Each group of students acted out an American sport, and the USIA publication "About the USA" was given to the group with the best performance.

East Timor English Teachers Participate in National Conference

With USIS Jakarta support, five East Timor English teachers attended the annual national conference of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in Indonesia (TEFLIN). This was the first group of teachers from East Timor ever to attend the TEFLIN conference. The group, which included three English professors from the University of East Timor and two secondary school English teachers, presented a panel discussion on the historical and current status of English in East Timor. The lively discussion session focused on the mandate in East Timor to use Bahasa Indonesia, the national language. RELO Mike Jenson reported that the Indonesian teachers warmly welcomed the special East Timor group and appreciated learning more about East Timor.

USIS Rangoon's American English Language Program Spotlights Martin Luther King

USIS Rangoon's monthly American English language program recently concluded its "Great Americans Series." The final program focused on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his involvement in the civil rights movement events of 1963. David Gugin, a former English Teaching Fellow, conducted the program, which also featured English language development activities using literature and a USIA International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) video on the American civil rights movement. The aims of this program were to increase participants' knowledge of Dr. King and to emphasize the philosophy and tactics of nonviolent resistance which characterized the Civil Rights movement in America.

Malaysian Ministry of Education Praises Instructional Technology Workshops Run by English Language Specialist

The recent historic political and economic changes in Malaysia have led to deep cuts in the budget of the Malaysian Ministry of Education. To cut costs, the Ministry has decided to focus its efforts on developing distance education throughout the country. Toward this end, English Language Specialist Heidi Shetzer recently served as an internet consultant to the Ministry and conducted workshops for approximately 120 participants from the Ministry's resource centers all over Malaysia. This program marked the first time the Ministry has provided significant cost- sharing for a USIS program. The Ministry was so pleased with Shetzer's program that they have already proposed follow-up workshops with Shetzer and a second American educator, with the Ministry once again offering to cover all of the presenters' in-country expenses.

ETF Assists Ministry of Education of Thailand in Carrying Out Proposed Curriculum Reforms

English Teaching Fellow (ETF) Cristina Schoonmaker spent the past year working with the Ministry of Education of Thailand to implement the following reforms: to introduce English as a required subject at grade one and to switch from grammar-based learning to a communicative method of teaching English at the primary and secondary school levels. Schoonmaker developed new English language teaching manuals for the primary and secondary school levels, incorporating content-based instruction, "CBI," a method which integrates academic content with language-teaching objectives. While it will require a major commitment from the Ministry of Education to train 40,000 teachers nationwide to use CBI, the development of the manuals is a significant step in that direction. In addition, Schoonmaker conducted workshops for teachers all over Thailand, introduced CBI at the ThaiTESOL convention (inaugurated by Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai), and established a library on English teaching at the Ministry's Department of Curriculum and Instruction Development. According to USIS Bangkok, Schoonmaker "has done ground breaking work" in introducing CBI to Thailand.

American Literature and Culture via the Internet in Southeast Asia

Project ELLSA (Electronic Literature and Language in Southeast Asia), aimed at Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and The Philippine Islands, is a three-tier distance learning program in American literature, history, and civics education which uses the Internet and USIA-produced English language materials. The project's long-term objectives were to incorporate USIA-produced materials into course curricula and to develop Internet linkages among educators across southeast Asia. Although it is only at the beginning phase, two Malaysian Education Resource Centers are interested in ELLSA, and three Malaysian schools have just begun piloting the ELLSA materials. In Malaysia, the project is supported by University of Malaya Professor Dr. Fatimah Hashim, a former USIA grantee who attended the 1998 TESOL Convention. To increase the project's potential, RELO George Scholz plans to request an English language specialist in literature and the Internet.

RELO Activities

RELO George Scholz assisted with the agency-sponsored ‘CIVITAS-Kuala Lumpur' conference, August 10-13. He also worked with the Malaysian Fulbright (MACEE) Commission in assisting with workshops by Educational Testing Service (ETS) TOEFL Director Dr. To Dutka, August 17-19.

Thai MOE Features American Specialist

The Department of Curriculum Development in Thailand's Ministry of Education worked with the USIS office in Bangkok to co-sponsor a visit April 28-May 8 by Donna Brinton, American specialist in content-based instruction. Because the department considers the topic vital for the nation's school system, it supported a series of workshops by Brinton throughout the country. The workshop also introduced to participants the USIA-produced publication English Teaching Forum and other USIA programs like the American studies summer institutes and the international visitor program.

RELO Introduces Content-Based Model for Teaching Civic Education

USIS Kuala Lumpur RELO George Scholz attended an ELT conference in Penang May 21 and presented a paper on “The American Promise,” a U.S.-based video series on civics education. The presentation provided a content-based model for teaching civics education in the English language classroom.

Heritage and Vision" in the Classroom Content

Malaysia's Ministry of Education has begun a major teacher training initiative that will introduce thematic content into the country's public school system. "Education: Heritage and Vision" is based on classroom materials that combine the following topics: ourselves, our family, our community, our environment with these actions: reflect, discuss, research, design. The Malaysian government has enlisted the support of both USIA and the British Council in planning this initiative. Regional English Language Officer George Scholz has been asked to design and implement training for the research section of the project. His design will focus on using e-mail, electronic discussion groups, and World Wide Web sites as research tools. The training of teachers in this nationwide endeavor in Malaysia is expected to begin in a few months.

Malaysia Welcomes 'Dave's ESL Cafe'

The possibilities and benefits of distance learning and Internet use are of great interest to educators in Malaysia, a country comprised of two distinct regions separated by hundreds of miles of sea. Thus it comes as no surprise that a warm welcome was given to Dave Sperling, creator of the major English language teaching World Wide Web resource, when he visited Malaysia in mid-January. Sperling held consultations in Kuala Lumpur at the University Malaya, the Universiti Putra Malaysia, the English Language Services program, the Penang Teachers College and the Universiti Sains Malaysia. USIA and American publisher Prentice Hall Regents co-sponsored the visit. In addition to his online work , Sperling is the author of the Prentice Hall book, The Internet Guide for Language Educators.

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