Monday, March 14, 2011

English Language Programs and U.S. PD

With TESOL’s (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) 45th Annual Convention in New Orleans this week, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the role of English language in U.S. PD. (TESOL is global educational organization headquartered in the U.S., with affiliate organizations around the world and members in over 150 different countries. Conference presenters and attendees come from all over the world.)

While TESOL may not exactly be doing PD (depending on your definition), language promotion and programming plays a large role in public diplomacy in terms of fostering mutual understanding and encouraging engagement. Put another way, it is easier to engage foreign publics and open up dialogue if we speak the same language. For U.S. PD, English is in high demand even in places where people disagree with American politics. Strategically, this is an opportunity to engage foreign publics who might otherwise be turned off, building relationships and allowing us to show a fuller picture of the U.S. and American culture. 

Providing increased access to English education helps meet the needs of people looking to improve their job opportunities, meet entrance requirements for universities in the U.S. (and other Anglophone countries), and communicate (almost) globally, among other reasons. 

In the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Office of English Language Programs (OELP) carries out 4 types of programs offered and administered through U.S. Embassies and Consulates:

·         English Language Fellow Program: 10-month fellowships sending American TESOL teachers abroad
·         English Language Specialist Program: short-term assignments abroad for American academics in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)/ TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) or applied linguistics
·         E-Teacher Scholarship Program: online graduate courses for English teachers in other countries, offered through the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the University of Oregon
·         English Access Microscholarship Program: afterschool classes and intensive summer activities providing English language access for non-elite 14-18 year-olds

In addition, OELP creates English language materials such as textbooks, activities (puzzles, etc.), music CDs, and posters for the classroom, as well as teacher training materials.

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