English instructionMALI Launches New Programs [Archives:2003/682/Community]

October 30 2003

Fahmia Al-Fotih
Everyone wants to study and learnt the English language, as it is an international language and a flexible and important tool for communication nowadays. Thus, many approaches and methods have come to the ground and adopted by many educational institutions.
However, the workers in the field of teaching English have been looking for the best and accurate methods and techniques for helping the English students acquire the language easily, fast, and smoothly.
To highlight, a new program for English students in Yemen, we talked to Ms. Marie Hurlburt, a current teacher in Mali (Modern American Language Institute).

Q: Would you tell the readers a little about your background, education, and professional experience?
A: My name is Marie Hurlburt and I am a native born American. I have an MA in Education/TESL. I am married to a Yemeni so Yemen is my second home. I am the Program Developer and an English teacher at MALI.
I was in China for six years and worked both at the university level and with English language Institutes. I also did a lot of teacher training in the communicative method.
I came to Yemen in 1999, as a Junior English Teaching Fellow, a program funded by the US State Department. I trained teachers and assisted in the development of a new curriculum at YALI. I worked on a special TESL project and headed a committee of Yemeni nationals, the Ministry of Education, the American Embassy, and the British Council. I also taught classes and was responsible for other projects at YALI.
I was a consultant for Amideast and worked on a project as Program Developer for the Petroleum Training Center. I also taught pre-TOEFL classes and did some private tutoring.
I became affiliated with MALI when I was offered the position of Director of Courses in Aden. I was involved with the development of the new MALI Institute, in Aden, and did various jobs, such as: recruitment, marketing, curriculum development, etc. It was a very rewarding and enjoyable experience.
It was understood, by the owner and Director of MALI, Mr. Mazen Loqman, when I accepted the position that I had already applied for a Senior English Teaching Fellow with the US State Department program and that my assignment in Aden would be short-term. I was subsequently accepted into the program as a Senior Fellow and assigned to Syria and went with my husband the last academic year and worked with the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Education training English teachers and developing new curriculums throughout Syria. Upon my return this September, I happily rejoined the MALI organization.

Q: I understand you have developed a new program at MALI. Would you give a brief outline of this program?
A: The new program will be one that is very new to Yemen. They will be “Structured Conversation” courses and will have four themes. They are: Cross Cultural Communication, Creative Writing, Pre-TOEFL, and Business courses. They will run for 4- five week sessions. The cost will be a one time fee.

Q: What was the motivation for developing and implementing such a program in Yemen?
A: The need is great for advanced students of English to have the opportunity to use English and think in English. Advanced students don’t need any more tests to prove they have learned English or English grammar. What they need is the opportunity to use the language and build their skills.
These courses will not require the students to take a final exam but will use interesting and creative projects, which will be used to evaluate the students progress.

Q: Would you give some examples of what the students can expect in these courses?
A: There will be guest speakers throughout the course period. Students will either work alone or collaborate with each other. It will be student-centered class with the teacher being the facilitator. For example, in the Cross Cultural course the students will compare cultures and do a research paper. A lot of discussion will ensue out of this research project assignment. They will also have a debate with students from Sana’a University.
The creative writing course will involve writing, poetry, plays, skits, short stories, journalism, etc. There are many talented Yemeni students of English that need a format to both display their talents and discover latent talents. The students will discuss all their creative projects and we expect to have a poetry/art contest and possible a play performed and written by the students. We also plan to have universities in Sana’a involved in the judging of student’s works.
The Business and TOEFL courses will not be dull, boring, or un-interesting courses but will utilize many newly developed resources. All classes will have a primary focus of conversation even the writing course.

Q: Have you developed any programs like this before?
A: Last year, when I worked and traveled throughout Syria training teachers, many of these ideas were adopted by the Ministry of Education. High School students needed to be motivated to continue in their English language learning. Learning English doesn’t have to be boring or tedious it should be an enjoyable experience for both teacher and student.

Q: Why do you feel this strategy to engage advanced students will be successful?
A: Often educators fail to listen to the needs of the students. In my many travels I continually hear advanced English students say that they want an opportunity to use the language that they have invested so many hours into learning. They are tired of grammar lessons and tests. They want a format in which they can engage in conversation. Actually, they seem to know more than the educators. Learning and becoming proficient in a language is using and thinking in the language.
These courses will give the advanced student the opportunity to use the language and not waste time nor effort in preparing for the dreaded test at the end of the course. Many students can pass tests in English and not know how to speak the language. We at MALI want to have our students able to use the language for purposes of communication and dialogue. Again, learning a language should be fun for both the student and teacher.

Q: You state that you think MALI is a unique Language Institution in Yemen can you elaborate on that?
A: MALI has more native speaking teachers than any other language institution in Yemen. We have nine native speaking teachers, in Sana’a who are Canadian, American, and British and four native speaking English teachers in Aden. So we employ thirteen in all. This gives the students exposure to hearing English by a native speaker and also exposure and an exchange of cultural ideas, which helps promote more understanding and tolerance.
However, let me say that we also have some excellent Yemeni teachers that are expert at teaching beginning levels some who have been at MALI for as long as nine years and are loved by the students. We provide a wide range of training courses for Yemen Governmental Ministries, NGO’s, and for both Yemen and Foreign businesses. We have been chosen as the Vocational Fund’s primary provider for English language training and finally, we have a very successful Arabic language program that currently has foreign students from Spain, Britain, Canada and America.

Q: When do the new courses begin?
A: We have already started registration. The classes are expected to fill up fast. They begin on November 8th. Interested students should contact MALI at: 441-036 or 446-103 They may also drop by at MALI just off Djibouti Street.

Q: When these courses end will there be others offered to the advanced student so that they can continue to practice English?
A: Of course we will continue to meet our student’s needs and continue to develop new programs. A student of English never stops growing and developing and MALI is sensitive and committed to meeting the demands and requests of our students.