EWC Conducts English Enrichment Programs in Myanmar

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HONOLULU (July 13, 2015) - The Hawaii, USA-based East-West Center has been conducting three separate programs in Myanmar this summer designed to enrich English-language skills for local teachers and journalists. The programs include a media workshop focusing on journalist instruction through English news analysis, a teacher exchange designed to strengthen English instruction, and long-term teacher residencies through the Center-administrated Brunei-U.S. English Enrichment Program for ASEAN.

Two U.S. educators are leading an intensive reading and writing course for 42 Myanmar journalists called “Improving Local Media Reporting through Analyzing English-Language News.” The month-long course uses English-based media reports, particularly U.S. news, to help improve the participants’ vocabulary, comprehension and knowledge about international reporting. Local journalists can also use these resource tools as a model for improving their own reporting and editing.  Funding for the program is provided by the U.S. Embassy in Yangon.

East-West Center Media Programs Manager Susan Kreifels reports that the program has received enthusiastic support from editors and broadcast managers throughout Myanmar who are allowing their journalists to leave their newsrooms for two working hours a day. “They see this program as a unique and interesting way to help journalists improve their professional skills,” said Kreifels, noting that six journalists from Myanmar’s ethnic states and Mandalay are joining the Yangon-based participants. “The feedback from both students and their supervisors has been excellent,” she said.

Meanwhile, several other American teachers have been partnering with leading Myanmar educators to train local teachers and administrators in English instruction. (Read teacher Gerald Kolbeck’s blog on his experiences in Myanmar.)  Now in its second-year, the Teachers Exchange and Training (TexT) Program focuses on English speaking, reading and writing skills, as well as critical thinking and collaboration aimed at preparing youth for success in school, work and civic life. Funded by the Suu Foundation, the TexT Program is administered by the East-West Center and partners Yangon Academy and the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council.

“The TexT program is particularly important in an emerging nation like Myanmar, because it can help prepare students for greater opportunities in the English-based realms of global commerce and communication,” said East-West Center Director of External Affairs Karen Knudsen. “And this summer, the TexT team concentrated especially on working with teachers at Buddhist monastery schools, which is the only form of education accessible to many of Myanmar’s families.”

Finally, several teachers from different ASEAN teachers are doing 10-month residencies at Yangon-area schools as part of the extensive Brunei-U.S. English Enrichment Program for ASEAN. The multi-year program intends to strengthen ASEAN integration through helping to build English language capacity and facilitate communication between teacher-trainers, officers, and diplomats of the region.