USIA and English Language Teacher Training Support in
North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia

USIA maintains three English Language Programs offices in the Middle East and North Africa. Each has a Regional English Language Officer who provides consultations and oversight of USIA's English teaching activities. Richard Boyum is located in Cairo, Egypt , Janet Miller is in Amman, Jordan, and Bridget Gersten is in Tunis, Tunisia..

In addition, English Teaching Fellows serve at a number of institutions throughout the area: Angela Wofford at BRAC in Dhaka, Bangladesh; Julia Frazier at University of Nouakchott in Nouakchott, Mauritania; Michael Hunter at the Jordanian Judicial Institute in Amman, Jordan; Timothy Cullen at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman; Sarah Egerer at the University of Damascus in Damascus, Syria; and Donna Linn at Birzeit University in Ramallah, West Bank.

 

English Teaching Specialist Assists Jordanian University in Revising Curriculum

In addition to participating in Jordan's First International Conference on English for Specific Purposes (ESP), Specialist Ethel Swartley spent three days early in August at the Language Center of the University of Jordan (Amman) reviewing the content of two or their new communications skills courses. As a result of her review, Language Center academic staff will be revising these locally produced materials, thereby benefiting all 5,000 first-year Jordan University students. In addition, because of Swartley's work the Language Center now has a better understanding of how to write materials and how to develop and incorporate lesson objectives into their curricula.

USIS Damascus and Syrian EFL Educators Conduct Final Professional Development Seminar of the Year

Two Syrian educators from Damascus University English for Special Purposes (ESP) Center assisted USIS Damascus in organizing its final FY99 Seminar for Professionals in English Language Teaching (SPELT). Unlike previous sessions, which featured American presenters, this seminar provided Syrian educators an opportunity to present their EFL ideas through educational posters. The two Syrian organizers, both previously sponsored by USIS to participate in International English-Teaching seminars abroad, were eager to share their newfound knowledge and experience with the Damascus EFL community. For many of the 130 Syrian educators in attendance, this was their first experience with educational poster sessions and giving professional presentations. USIS's SPELT series of seminars is the only forum for English teachers in Damascus to gather and discuss professional issues.

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Conference Held in Jordan

In recognition of the importance of English to the economic development of Jordan,the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) organized a regional conference (August 2-4) on the teaching of ESP in the 21st century. Participating were fifty academics from the region as well as USIS Amman Regional English Language Officer Janet Miller, Academic Specialist Ethel Swartley from Drexel University, and English Teaching Fellow Donna Linn. The caliber of the papers presented coupled with generous corporate funding contributed to the success of this event and firmly established JUST's newly founded Department of English for Applied Studies as a major force for professional development in the Jordanian English teaching community. The enthusiasm and caliber of the participants won the praise of JUST's president and the agreement from corporate sponsors to sponsor another conference on computer assisted language learning next year.

Gaza Summer English Language Institute Focuses on Computers for EFL

The USIS Tel Aviv Gaza program office held the 1999 English Language Summer Institute for primary and secondary school teachers in Gaza from July 10-15. San Francisco University Academic Specialist Myrtis Mixon demonstrated CALL techniques(Computer Assisted Language Learning) to the teachers, many of whom had little or no familiarity with computers.

Third Annual Conference on Testing and English Language Teaching in the United Arab Emirates

TESOL Arabia, the internationally recognized English teacher's association based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), held a conference on Testing and Teacher Education, May 5 in Al-Ain and May 6 in Dubai. This was the first time that this conference was held at the Zayed University campus in Dubai. Around 250 English teachers representing every northern Emirate attended the Dubai conference and 150 from Abu Dhabi attended the conference in Al Ain. Regional English Language Officer (RELO) Janet Miller represented USIS Abu Dhabi at this conference, serving in a panel discussion, and 48 Western and local academics gave papers at this two-day session. The conference reached Emiratis from all seven Emirates in one venue, having a nationwide impact. The event allowed RELO Miller to sustain relationships with the 55 UAE English language supervisors, TESOL Arabia members, and contacts at all of the tertiary institutions in the seven emirates in the course of two days. The program was pivotal in engaging influential Emirati women educators in organizing an international academic event.

Monthly Seminar Series Helps Syrian Teachers Learn New Ways to Teach and Test Students

USIS Damascus English Teaching Fellow (ETF) Sarah Egerer recently conducted a one-day seminar for eighty EFL professionals in English language training. Ms. Egerer focused on activities demonstrating principles of traditional testing techniques and possible alternative ways which emphasize greater interaction between teachers and students to create a more democratic climate. As a result of the workshop, many teachers said they would begin to apply the new techniques and use continuous assessment in their classes. One of the goals of the program was to help key Syrian educators rethink widely-held beliefs about authority and to introduce them to American values of student-centered classrooms, hands-on learning, and the importance of the individual taking responsibility for her own learning.

In March, Barbara Al Nouri, the Damascus American Language Center (ALC) Curriculum Coordinator, presented a workshop for 110 Syrian English teachers entitled "Communicative Activities in Class.” The intent of the program was to help teachers overcome ineffective teaching methods in public schools and universities where students rarely get a chance to practice using the language for real purposes. The workshop provided activities that would help students to be more confident and natural in using English. This well-timed workshop went a long way toward providing them with what they needed: a stimulating, activity-laden workshop based on the latest in American teaching methodology.

From May 2 to May 4 American English was spoken at Al-Hasaka in Northeastern Syria when sixty-five middle and high school English teachers participated in a USIS-organized workshop at the Al-Hasaka Directorate of Education. The post’s ETF and two USIS/ALC trainers developed and taught the course. Al-Hasaka’s Director of Education said the workshops were the first time his teachers had attended workshops with native speakers. He praised the cooperation between USIS and the Ministry of Education (MOE) and requested additional training in the future. The Al-Hasaka training was part of a three-year joint cooperative effort between USIS and the MOE to strengthen English teaching in Syria.

The April USIS/ALC Seminar, on teaching children, drew the largest audience to date, 128 EFL professionals, all of whom currently teach or will teach children in the near future. Featured seminar presenters were Travis Vanest, an ALC teacher with experience teaching in American and international schools, who spoke on establishing classroom routines, and AMIDEAST Director, Mark Sigrist, who presented a lesson plan illustrating how songs, games and student-centered activities keep children motivated. After the seminar many teachers commented how much they had benefited and said they had specific plans to put to use what they had learned in order to manage their classes better.

Amman's English Program on the Topic "Authentic Assessment: Beyong the Multiple-Choice Tests” Draws Eclectic and Erudite Jordanian Audience

USIS Amman’s third quarter "ENGLISH ENCOUNTERS" program “Authentic Assessment: Beyond the Multiple-choice Tests,” held on May 26, attracted a Jordanian and Palestinian audience representing publishers, private schools, universities, NGO’s and Ministry of Education officials. The interactive workshop, led by RELO Janet W. Miller, introduced English language testing activities that assess the learner’s ability to think, analyze, and perform in English other than the rote memorization of grammar. These testing concepts reflect the growing trend of American educational practices to prepare society for the information age. They stress skills that relate to lifelong learning and that prepare students for professional careers in the twenty-first century. Post has found that such English teaching programs appeal to a diverse cross-section of Jordanian English teaching professionals and prove to be an efficient way to reach out to this influential group of academics. These academics and their institutions are paving the way for educational reform by adopting an American model of English teaching and testing.

Legal English in Jordan Supports Economic and Judicial Reform

In November 1998, a group of Jordanian lawyers approached the USIS Amman American Language Center (ALC) and requested a special course in legal English. The ALC organized a thirty-two hour course on business law. The group wanted English for international trade and were particularly interested in understanding contracts and insurance practices. Some already have international clients and others wanted to position themselves to attract international clients once Jordan joins the WTO. Since the initial business law course, the group has requested and taken three additional courses in legal English: The International Sale of Goods, International and Commercial Arbitration, and Contract of Agency. Their thirst for legal English has become more specialized and they continue to request additional classes. Moreover, they now want to establish a link with an American Law institution.

In September 1998, a USIA English Teaching Fellow, Michael Hunter, arrived and began teaching legal English full time at the Judicial Institute of Jordan (JJI). In addition, he has developed curriculum and materials for a legal English program for first year students, using the USIA text "By the People and For the People" as a springboard for discussions on democratic institutions in the United States. This legal English program will continue during the 99-00 academic year and be expanded to include English for judges currently on the bench. The JJI has asked the English Teaching Fellow to stay a second year to build on this foundation and expand the program to include English for judges currently serving on the bench. It is the first attempt by the GOJ to address the English language needs of the judiciary.

English Teaching Specialists Conduct Five Workshops Throughout Tunisia

English Teaching Specialists Fredricka Stoller of Northern Arizona University and James Coady of the University of Ohio, Athens conducted five 1 ˝ day English teacher training seminars throughout Tunisia for the Ministry of Education's English Language Department. The seminars, which took place from February 1-13, were repeated at five sites: Sousse, Tozeur, Beja, Sfax, and Hades. The topic of all five workshops was "Teaching English Vocabulary," although the content of the workshops varied slightly at each location to reflect the interests and needs of each particular audience. Over 372 teachers, teacher trainers, and teacher assistants-- including all 17 English teaching inspectors in Tunisia-- participated in the seminars, which are one of the few opportunities large numbers of Tunisian teachers have for professional development. Cost sharing for the program was provided by the Ministry of Education.

American Language Center Organizes Intensive "English for Business Law" Course at the Request of Jordanian Lawyers

A group of Jordanian lawyers recently approached the American Language Center (ALC) director in Amman requesting an intensive English course concentrating on law terminology and litigation. The ALC developed a 33-hour "English for Business Law" course, stressing class discussions and debate. T. Najdawi, a former participant in the USIA International Visitors program and a practicing lawyer, and a USAID lawyer conducted the class. As follow-up, the course participants attended a presentation on the Jordanian legal system at USIS Amman's auditorium. The ALC, which is a USIS Direct English Teaching Program, covered the cost of the course entirely with recycled funds from tuition fees and the sale of USIA-produced materials.

RELO Conducts Workshops for Teachers from Jewish, Arab, Bedouin and New Immigrant Communities

On January 5 and 6, RELO Janet Miller conducted workshops on EFL methodology at the American Cultural Center in Jerusalem and at the Kaye Teacher Training College in Beersheba. She demonstrated how to adapt existing EFL materials to the needs of diverse school populations with different needs and abilities, adapting tasks for the quicker and slower learner, and altering content to increase relevance for particular groups. The audiences, made up of teachers from Jewish, Arab, and Bedouin communities, as well as new immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia and veteran Israelis, found these techniques very relevant to their needs and noted the applicability of Miller's models to their own classrooms, with a number of teachers indicating their intention to make immediate changes.

Holiday Seminar at American Language Center Introduces Syrian Participants to New Vocabulary Ideas

English Teaching Fellow Sarah Egerer led a holiday workshop at the American Language Center (ALC) in Damascus organized around the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. The approximately 100 educators who attended worked in small groups to complete the holiday- theme activities intended to provide ideas for enhancing student acquisition of vocabulary. USIA-produced English teaching materials were given away as holiday gifts--prizes for correct answers to questions of scholarship. The program was the last ALC public activity before anti-American demonstrations which took place on December 19, 1998. The cost of the program was funded entirely from recycled ALC funds from tuition fees and the sale of USIA-produced materials.

RELO Program Strengthens USIS Contacts Throughout United Arab Emirates

RELO Janet Miller recently conducted programs in three of the Emirates in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). Miller met with the heads of English departments of two newly opened universities (Zayed and American Universities) to introduce and promote USIA English teaching materials. A workshop for 24 U.A.E. nationals (women) primary school teachers from 24 different primary schools in Dubai gave these teachers firsthand experience with American primary school methodology for teaching reading. Meeting with the twenty U.A.E. university teaching assistants (all nationals--15 women, 5 men) who are planning to undertake graduate study in the U.S. generated a discussion on the American perception of Arabs, dietary laws and dress codes for Islamic women. Miller's programs served to strengthen USIS support to the Ministry of Education, U.A.E. University, the Higher Colleges of Technology, and TESOL Arabia, since she met with officials of all those organizations during the course of her trip.

English Language Specialists Give Seminars in Upper Egypt

Specialists Dr. David Eskey of the University of Southern California and Dr. Eleanor Black of California State University gave a series of USIS-sponsored seminars for more than 600 English language educators in upper Egypt and Cairo. Ministry of Education officials hailed the USIS Cairo program in upper Egypt as a crucial boost for the politically volatile region. This was the first official trip to the area since terrorism struck the region in 1991. Participants included decision-makers from the Ministry of Higher Education, regional university presidents and faculty deans, Ministry of Education officials and teacher trainers, and private sector school administrators, teacher trainers, and teachers. Both specialists also presented at the American University in Cairo Conference on Integrating Language Skills, which attracted over 350 participants from eleven countries.

U.S. and the Palestinian Authority Cooperate in English Teaching

With confidence in the peace process low and anti-American sentiment among Palestinians rising, USIS Tel Aviv, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education, hosted a seminar for English teaching supervisors representing all 12 educational districts, including Gaza. Press coverage highlighted American cooperation in English teaching and education in support of the Ministry of Education efforts to upgrade the level of English in the public educational system. By training supervisors, the seminar also contributed American ideas and content to the educational reform process, which includes a new curriculum and materials. RELO Jan Miller conducted the program in Jerusalem and presented each district with copies of English teaching materials.

Seminar Focuses on American Literature in Egyptian English Classes

As part of USIS Cairo's ongoing efforts to promote the study of contemporary American literature, RELO Richard Boyum assisted USIS Cairo in sponsoring a seminar on short stories by prize winning authors for academics, writers, and journalists. The program, which was conducted by two English professors from Cairo University, reinforced the teaching of American literature in English classes at Egyptian universities and generated a discussion comparing Egyptian and American societies.

English Language Specialist Program Centers on Ethnic Pluralism in Israeli English Classes

Specialist Gail Weinstein of San Francisco State University gave a series of lectures and seminars at teacher training colleges and universities throughout Israel. Her program focused on an American approach to the issues of ethnic pluralism within the context of English language learning. Teacher training institutions in Israel not only educate teachers, but more importantly, are centers of pluralism since they integrate Jewish, Arab, and new immigrant future teachers in their classes. As a result of Dr. Weinstein's program, a committee of Israeli teachers plans to create a textbook using her approach to incorporate ethnic diversity into English language classes.

USIS Amman's "English Encounters" Program Draws Record Crowd from Around Jordan

USIS Amman's December 2, 1998 "English Encounters" Program, a quarterly event held at the American Language Center (ALC), attracted an audience of 130 Jordanian and Palestinian English instructors/professors, supervisors/teacher-trainers" and professionals from Tafilah in the south to Ramtha in the north. Members of this self-selecting audience represented a total of 31 academic institutions including the Ministry of Education (MOE), NGOs, private and public schools and universities. In addition to teachers, professors, and supervisors, English department students from the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) attended. ALC instructor Carol Marsh condensed an entire term's course on the topic A Back to Basics: English Sentence Structure, into one session. Many educators lingered afterwards to buy USIA English teaching materials and to invite the presenter and RELO Janet Miller to conduct workshops at their academic institutions outside of Amman. USIS-generated English teaching speaker programs appeal to a cross section of Jordanian and Palestinian English language professionals nationwide and prove to be a very efficient means to reach out to this important group. The ALC operates entirely with tuition funds and funds from the sale of USIA-produced materials.

English Language Specialists Promote Literature in Language Teaching

Drs. Linda Gajdusek of Northeastern University, Boston and Jean McConochie of Pace University, New York held a telepress conference for Egyptian English language professional from the Ministry of Education, universities, and private institutions. Topics included cooperative learning, integrating skills, cultural understanding, and incorporating literature in language teaching. The program, organized by RELO Richard Boyum, emphasized that using American literature in English classes also offers opportunities to teach principles of civic education, American studies, the political process, and American diversity to future leaders.

RELO Conducts Workshops in Oman

RELO Janet Miller's teacher training workshops for Omani primary school English teachers for the Ministry of Education (MOE) in three governates provided American expertise and pedagogy to a group that has limited contact with Americans but who reach thousands of Omani students. Participants in the November programs included national textbook authors, senior MOE officials, English inspectors, teacher trainers, and approximately 50 classroom teachers.

"Playing Games" is the Object of Serious Discussion During Program at American Language Center in Syria

"Are You Game?" was the name, but English teaching was the aim of the second Seminar for Professionals in English Language Teaching (SPELT) on November 9, 1998. The American Language Center (ALC) in Damascus held morning and evening sessions which were attended by 110 language teachers from elementary schools, private institutes, and Damascus University. After a presentation by ALC outreach coordinator Mark Vanest on the use of language games in the classroom, the participants divided into groups to play three different games led by ALC teachers. At the end the teachers regrouped to reflect on ways to adapt games to their specific situations. Costs of the monthly series are paid entirely from ALC funds recycled from tuition fees and sale of USIA-produced materials.

RELO Office in Tunis Organizes Business English Workshop

On November 11, twenty-nine English teachers from eight universities in Tunisia participated in a workshop on English for Specific Purposes (ESP) entitled "Teaching Business English." The workshop was organized by the Regional English Language Office at USIS Tunis. Beginning in 1998, Ministry of Education (MOE) guidelines in Tunisia require that ESP be taught in all university departments. Predictably, the new legislation has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of students studying English. There has also been a related increase in the number of professors lecturing on ESP, many of whom have no experience teaching the subject. As a result of this program, many newly hired and experienced English teachers have an improved understanding of techniques for teaching business English and curriculum design. After the workshop, one participant noted, " My department is in the process of developing a syllabus. What I have learned today...will be very helpful to us in that process."

RELO Program at American Language Center in Syria Draws Capacity Crowd

On October 19, RELO Janet Miller kicked off the second year of USIS Damascus's highly successful monthly Seminars for Professionals in English Language Teaching (SPELT) with a workshop entitled "Learning Styles." A capacity crowd of 123 English language teaching professionals attended the program at the American Language Center (ALC) in Damascus. The SPELT workshops offer the latest in American teaching methodologies to teachers who have extremely limited access to the internet, professional journals, or international conferences. The ALC, inspired by the American Language Center in Amman, sold USIA-produced English teaching materials for the first time at this event. Drawing upon local and regional expertise, the ALC's series of English programs continues to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient methods of engaging Syrian educators from the public and private sectors.

Civic Education through English Classrooms in Egypt

Five returned USIS Civic Education grantees, alumni of 1997 International Visitor programs and the June 1998 civic education conference in Amman, worked with American Speaker Christopher Renner to coach 40 Ministry of Education and university trainers on ways to introduce civic education topics through the English as a Foreign Language classroom during a seminar in Cairo September 27-30, 1998. The group designed classroom activities that included comparing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the U.S. Bill of Rights with discussion questions on universal applicability. Representatives from the MOE discussed with their ELT colleagues ways to incorporate the list of 13 "community and lifeskill" topics their Minister has asked to appear in textbooks across the curriculum. English language textbook writers were in attendance, but the workshop participants unanimously agreed that they need not wait for new textbooks to appear in order to introduce civic education in English teaching. Renner was very effective in taking everyday lessons and finding the hook for civ ed oriented activities and class discussions. He examined topics including human rights, conflict resolution, environmental issues and cultural tolerance. At the end of the seminar, the participants drew up an action plan that included writing and sharing lesson plans based on current books and holding regional seminars led by seminar participants.

Ambassador Hosts 500 English Language Contacts at Cairo Embassy Garden Reception

In his welcoming remarks at a September 30 garden reception for more than 500 USIS Cairo contacts from the public and private sectors in the fields of English as a Foreign Language, American literature, linguistics, libraries and associated fields, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer commented on the importance the mission attaches to English teaching and training and the role of improved English language capabilities in Egypt's ambitious development agenda. USIS Cairo's annual EFL reception, which the Ambassador hosted this year, plays a major role in consolidating Egyptian inter-institutional cooperation and provides a valuable networking opportunity for academics countrywide - thereby facilitating USIS efforts to foster a more cohesive national approach to English language training. Post efforts toward this end resulted in the establishment of a TESOL chapter in Egypt earlier this year.

English Encounters Series Receives Nationwide Attention in Jordan

The quarterly English Encounters series organized by RELO Janet Miller wrapped up its first year with a September 23 program by Dr. Mark Warschauer entitled "New Media, New Literacies: Language Teaching in the Age of Informations." Warschauer, a target of opportunity speaker from Cairo, drew a diverse audience of fifty Jordanian educators drawn from as far away as Mafraq in the north and Tafilah in the south. Among those in attendance were the head of the Ministry of Education (MOE) training division and eight inspectors from outside of Amman. Warschauer's presentation demonstrated information technology's potential as an interactive tool in language teaching. The topic of email and Internet is timely as Jordan enters the information age and individual access to Internet becomes more widespread in academic institutions. Miller recently learned that the MOE has a pilot project to give Internet access to 100 government schools during the coming year. The appeal of linking English proficiency and information technology was evident in the media coverage the program received: three Arabic dailies and Jordan's only English daily newspaper carried articles on Warschauer's program and Radio Jordan aired an interview with him as well.

Artist Brings Modern American Art to Syrian Audience

USIS-sponsored American artist Robert Woodward told a crowd of American Language Center (ALC) students, teachers and their families that his face decorating art celebrates life. His performance, which is one of a series of ALC cultural events which aim to give the Syrians a glimpse of American culture and involve them in a discussion on American values, was delivered to an attentive audience on September 13, 1998. As he painted the faces of ALC students and staff, he answered questions about his work and his philosophy. The ALC Students received a firsthand experience with modern American art and its originality, spontaneity, and vibrance - themes discussed in conversations after the presentation. One student was particularly interested in the nature of creativity and the meaning behind his art; another, a student of fashion design, said he will incorporate face decorating into his own work.

Successful Summer Institute Held in Morocco

The Moroccan Ministry of Education (MOE) and USIS co-hosted the fourteenth annual Summer Institute of English (SIE) in Rabat. RELO Bill Ancker was a presenter at the 10-day intensive training program, which was attended by nearly 200 Moroccan educators. USIS sponsored four speakers for the program, while the MOE provided stipends for the presenters, and full room and board for the 90 institute participants from outside of Rabat who resided on-site. The purpose of the program was to upgrade participants' professional knowledge, and provide networking opportunities for participants.

USIS Damascus and American Language Center Organizes Training Course for Syrian High School Teachers

In cooperation with the Syrian Ministry of Education (MOE), USIS Damascus and the American Language Center (ALC) organized a two-week training course from August 15-26 for 54 of Syria's best high school teachers. Building on last year's successful three-week training course for Syrian inspectors of schools, a team of ALC teacher trainers created the syllabus and materials, presented the seminars, gave teaching demonstrations, and organized hands-on peer-teaching sessions. The ALC team stressed modern, American methods of teaching and helped the Syrians to apply the principles they were learning to their teaching situations. The goal of the training course was to encourage teachers to replace outdated methods with new ones and to adopt more democratic roles in the classroom, such as learning facilitator, motivator and empowerer which increase student participation. Another goal of all ALC programs is to promote better understanding of U.S. society, culture, and values. The course participants, who came from all over Syria, plan to take the information back to their districts and lead weekend workshops for other teachers in their districts. The Syrian MOE responded enthusiastically to the training seminar and asked for additional seminars to be held in other cities. The Chief Inspector of the Syrian MOE, Issam Diab, expressed the Minister of Education's delight at the quality of the ALC's training seminars. At the request of the MOE, the next such seminar is scheduled to be held in Hasaka in February, 1999. The cost of the training course was paid entirely out of ALC funds from tuition and sale of materials. No U.S. government appropriated funds were used.

YALI Makes Impact on English Language Teaching in Yemen

The Yemeni-American Language Institute (YALI), USIA's direct English teaching program in Yemen, continues to experience an increase in enrollment, and is being approached by businesses and NGOs who want to pay for courses run at YALI. YALI's clients now include, among others, the Government of Yemen's (GOY) Ministry of Planning and Development, the American Institute of Yemeni Studies, several oil companies, the International Bank of Yemen, the embassies of Denmark and the Netherlands, and various U.N. organizations. Part of YALI's attraction is its new multimedia computer lab, bookstore, and library, which was inaugurated in August by U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine and GOY Vice Minister of Planning and Development Abdul Rahman Tartum. Several newspapers including the Yemen Times and Yemen Radio TV covered the opening.

American Language Center in Syria Sponsors Program on American Music

A musical explosion took place at the American Language Center (ALC) auditorium on August 17 at 8:30 pm. ALC teacher Travis Vanest performed an hour of American music to a standing room only crowd of ALC students and teachers; the audience enthusiastically sang along to the songs which traced the history of American music from early folk music and spirituals to the alternative rock of the 1990's. Travis explained the importance of different musical genres in America's history. The program exemplified America's musical tradition and the ethnic diversity of its people, and it prompted an assistant professor at the Higher Institute of Music and Dramatic Arts in Damascus to suggest a joint concert at his institute. The concert, entitled "A Musical Explosion," was the first event in a series of monthly American culture lectures and concerts organized by the ALC to introduce its students to American values and to build bridges to Syrian cultural institutions.

RELO Consultations Promote USIS Kuwait Goals

During RELO Richard Boyum's visit to Kuwait, he identified strategies for USIS Kuwait to pursue using both RELO and USIA English language programs resources in support of mission objectives. This included setting up an agreement with Amideast to sell USIA English language materials and introducing an American publisher's representative to the Ministry of Education curriculum department. This is particularly important since a collaboration with the American publisher's representatives will provide Kuwaitis with greater exposure to American themes through course content.

English Language Specialists Promote USIS Riyadh Objectives

English Language Specialists James Hamrick and Donald Bouchard presented a series of workshops aimed at improving the quality of English language educators and curriculum planners. This program was part of USIS Riyadh's long term goal of working with the Ministry of Education to develop exchanges and programs in English language teaching. In Saudi Arabia English has become increasingly important for economic development. These workshops not only gave educators needed pedagogical information, but also exposed them to American materials with U.S. cultural components.

Students of ETF in West Bank Include Political Prisoners

English Teaching Fellow Rebecca Chase recently returned to the U.S. after teaching for a year at Bethlehem University in the West Bank. The challenges she faced during her year there were numerous. A number of her students were arrested during the year by both the Israelis and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). One student, a well-known political prisoner active in the Palestinian cause who had been in prison for ten years, was arrested again during Chase's tenure but was released after she went on a hunger strike.

From the beginning, her students challenged her to make English relevant to their situation. On the first day of class, a student stood up in front of the others in the class and told Chase, "My name is -------. I hate English and I hate Americans." Chase then thanked the student, and said, "For someone who hates English, you know how to express yourself very well, and that is a gift. The reason why I am here to teach you English is not to make you into Americans but to give you all a chance to explain your situation here to the world. Unfortunately, most Americans don't speak Arabic, so it is up to you to explain about Palestine in English." This led to Chase engaging her students in cross cultural exchanges on the US and Palestine, which ultimately created a foundation of trust that had not existed before.

U.S. Ambassador Lauds English Teaching Program in Yemen

The Yemeni-American Language Institute (YALI) held a gala reception to inaugurate its new computer lab, library, and bookstore. Invited guests included U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine, the Vice Minister of Planning and Development, the Vice-Minister of Education, the Director of the Ceremonies Department of Parliament, the Deputy Minister for International Cooperation, members of the press, and university educators. In her speech, Ambassador Benet pointed out that over the years YALI has provided, not only English language instruction, but familiarity with American culture and values for an enormous cross section of Yemeni government leaders. Furthermore, she stated that she regularly meets YALI graduates at the highest levels in the Yemeni government. Speaking in English, the Minister of Planning and Development praised YALI for providing special classes for 103 ministry employees. YALI's special courses for Yemeni government ministries strengthen relations with mission contacts.

Target of Opportunity Programs in English Language Teaching

Drs. Liz England of Mills College and Mary Lou McClosky of Georgia State University gave programs to private sector English teaching contacts for USIS Cairo. Topics included civic education, conflict resolution strategies, American literature, and teaching techniques. Although sponsored by other organizations, both Dr. England and Dr. McClosky agreed to work at universities, colleges and the Career Development Center and Middle East Services, two important centers that do management and EFL training for numerous Egyptian and international corporations, and private schools. Both centers have been eager to work with USIS on outreach programs to educational institutions.

Israeli and Lebanese EFL Leaders Sponsor Visit by Peace Education Specialist

A USIS grant helped bring together two top EFL professionals from Israel and Lebanon, a meeting that led to joint sponsorship of a visit to the Middle East by an American specialist in peace education. Valerie Jakkar, president of the English Teachers' Association of Israel received a grant to attend the 1998 TESOL convention in Seattle where she met Irma Ghosn of the Lebanese American University in Byblos. In an example of Arab/Israeli cooperation, the two EFL educators agreed to share costs so that Kip Cates, who teaches peace education in the EFL classroom, could attend events in both countries in July. His workshops generated much enthusiasm among Israeli English teachers for establishing Internet contact with Arab teachers.

Standing Room-Only for USIS Damascus English Language Workshop

The eighth and final monthly program of the academic year was held at the American Language Center (ALC) on May 18. Five ALC teachers presented a two-hour workshop on "Tricks of the Trade" to a standing room-only audience of 70 English language professionals. The presentations demonstrated and discussed techniques used in teaching English conversation, business English, and American slang -- all courses offered at the center -- plus American culture through film and music. After the workshop, a Ministry of Education (MOE) official approached Training Coordinator Barbara Al Nouri and requested similar training for MOE teachers. ALC events are free and open to all English language professionals, and they have been growing in popularity as Syria continues its conversion to American English textbooks.

"Multiple Intelligences" in the English Language Classroom

English Teaching Fellow Holly Reichert presented several workshops on multiple intelligences, an increasingly important area of educational research and methodology. The workshops were held at Yarmouk University, Jordan University, and at the post’s regular ‘English Encounters’ program. Almost 100 Jordanian EFL professionals attended, including eight English language supervisors working with UNWRA, the United Nations relief and works agency for Palestinian refugees in northern Jordan.

Annual Teacher Training Workshops Focus on Cooperative Learning in Tunisia

Secondary school teachers in five Tunisian cities gathered to partake of  the expertise of two American English language specialists who were recruited by USIA to give workshops for the country's Ministry of Education. Fredricka Stoller of Northern Arizona University and Betty Soppelsa of the University of Kansas made presentations on "Enhancing Language Learning through Cooperative Learning Activities," the theme chosen by the ministry for this year's workshops. From April 13 to 25, Ms. Stoller and Ms. Soppelsa traveled to the cities of Tunis, Sousse, Gabes, Gafsa, and Beja, where they addressed approximately 70 teachers at each site. The Tunisian government has invited them to return next year.

Orientation for U.S.-Bound Teachers in Egypt

The USIA office in Cairo has launched a cooperative effort with the Egyptian Ministry of Education to provide pre-departure orientation for large groups of teachers going to U.S. universities for training and observation. Participants include teachers of math and science, subjects taught in English at certain government schools, as well as teachers of English. The sessions include information about American values, culture, and education. The training is being provided by the office of USIA's Regional English Language Officer and the American Resource Center in Cairo.

Major Book Distributor Agrees to Sell USIA English Teaching Materials

The International Language Bookshop has signed an agreement with USIA to sell the agency's English teaching materials. ILB is one of Egypt's largest English language book distributors, with outlets throughout the country. The agreement means that more people will have access to the wide variety of supplemental texts that USIA develops for EFL students and teachers.

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On October 1, 1999, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will become part of the
U.S. Department of State. Bureau webpages are being updated accordingly. Thank you for your patience.