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Cablegate: Iraqis Desperate to Learn English

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #2959 2581020
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141020Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9391
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 1931

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 002959

SIPDIS

NEA/PPD, ECA, RELO, NEA/I

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OEXC SCUL IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQIS DESPERATE TO LEARN ENGLISH

1.Summary: Regional English Language Officer Rick
Rosenberg conducted a workshop for English language
teachers in Baghdad with participants from across
Iraq on August 25-26. Countrywide participation
showed the depth and intensity of the need for
English language learning. Senior Iraqi officials
attending the workshop want to work with us on a
nation-wide plan for English language teaching and
have stressed that they are not/not requesting US
funding. End Summary.

2. The two day workshop organized by the Cultural
Affairs section and our PRT colleagues included
participants from the Ministry of Education, the
Ministry of Higher Education and secondary school
and university instructors from Baghdad, Basrah,
Irbil, Sulaymaniya, DhiQar, Mosul, Anbar, and
Nasariyah. Amman-based RELO Rick Rosenberg, in his
first trip to Baghdad, engaged the teachers with
student-centered learning strategies, insight into
the worldwide English language teaching community
and exposure to USG English teaching resources, both
electronic and print.

3. Thirty years of academic isolation has left Iraqi
English teaching professionals starved for contact
and resources. The level of English language ability
is generally dismal. Lack of exposure to native
speakers leaves Iraqis prone to reinforcing
elementary errors. After only two days of exposure
provided by the workshop, they showed evidence of
increased fluency and confidence. The participants
expressed unbounded enthusiasm and commitment to
resurrecting English language learning. A Ministry
of Education official arrived the second day
declaring that he had been Qawake all night
listening to the Teaching Jazz Chants to Young
Learners CDQ provided by the RELO. Distribution of
the DepartmentQs English Teaching Forum Magazine,
Shaping the Way We Teach English and other
publications was riotous.

4. Addressing IraqQs tremendous English language
needs is a top priority for Embassy Baghdad. Post
has already nominated Iraqi teachers to participate
in on-line E-teacher training and QShaping the Way
We Teach EnglishQ training. Post will seek more such
opportunities and encourage Iraqi teachers to
partner on the training so we get double effect.
Post will bring English language professionals for
more workshops. We are working with Iraqi teachers
of English to develop professional associations and
to connect them with the US-based TESOL community.
Post is distributing publications such as FORUM and
other USG produced English language materials via
the PRTs. We are also working with the Ministry of
Education and the Ministry of Higher Education on
partnerships to support English learning. We are
approaching the GOI to broadcast English language
learning materials on television.

5. Action Request: One of the conference
participants was a returned Fulbright Language
Teaching Assistantship (FLTA) alumna, and she
mesmerized the conference with tales of her
Fulbright experience and how she has used the
experience in her teaching at the University of
Baghdad. We believe there is a pool of excellent,
qualified candidates in Iraq for the FLTA. Embassy
Baghdad was dropped from the program last year
without explanation. Post requests immediate
reinstatement of Iraq in the Fulbright Language
Teaching Assistantship Program (FLTA).

6. Action Request: The Public Affairs section has
already recruited one 3161 English Teaching
specialist to focus on English teaching programs in
Baghdad, and we are in the process of recruiting a
second, who will concentrate on liaison with the
PRTQs and English teachers outside of the capital.
RELO RosenbergQs assistance in this workshop was so
outstanding that we look forward to engaging his
expertise at an early date to orient and train our
new staff.
CROCKER

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