I’ve just returned from a flying visit to Kiev on speak at the US State Department’s conference on English Language Education. This had a strong focus on ICT and teacher training, and I was speaking on ‘Handheld and Mobile learning’ (of which more in later posts).
The US team were very welcoming, and put on an excellent programme for over 200 Ukrainian teachers. The programme featured many of the US RELOs (Regional English Language Officers) from other countries in the region, joining specialists from the Office of English Language Programs in Washington D.C. to share ideas, experiences and resources with local teachers.
The US programmes (I suppose that should be ‘programs’ in this context…) are very creative and offer very extensive scholarships as well as in-country teacher training. Their new portal gives more background.
I’m keen that we should work more closely with the US colleagues supporting ELT contexts overseas – we have the same goals and academic interests, and we are both focused on helping teachers and learners gain wider access to quality resources. I’ve been working to set up closer links in the last couple of years, and we are discussing joint development projects.
We should also be linking our teacher associations more effectively – I’ve set up travel grants to facilitate leadership exchanges between the ELT specialists in IATEFL and TESOL, so that colleagues from corresponding special interest groups (US: interest sections) can attend each other’s conferences and build closer personal and professional relationships.
Of course the two countries are vying for the preference of students wishing to learn English in an English-speaking country, so we are robust competitors in terms of destination promotion and marketing; but overseas we have the same goals, to support teachers and learners, and raise the standards of English teaching globally.