Remarks by U.S. Ambassador, Laura F. Dogu
Managua, July 6, 2017
Good morning officials and English teachers participating in the 24th NicaTESOL conference: Active Empowerment in the Classroom.
What an excellent two days of workshops you have in store for you! I congratulate you On pursuing new skills in English instruction so that you can be even more effective in the classroom. You have chosen an excellent career.
English teachers are in great demand. Everywhere I go, school principals and university rectors tell me that they need quality English teachers. Business owners and managers tell me one of their biggest challenges is finding English speakers to work for them. It is also an excellent career because it is one that allows you to change lives and improve your country. English is more important than ever and the popularity of English can be seen in the growing number of people taking English courses and taking English exams.
For example, since the creation of the TOEFL exam in 1964, more than 27 million people have taken the test. The popularity of English courses is apparent here in Nicaragua as well, where English schools have proliferated and the Ministry of Education has focused on teaching English as a second language. To address this need, we have partnered with ANPI for many years and we are proud of its success at developing English teachers. ANPI has worked hard to help teachers pursue their dreams of becoming the best English teachers they can be. In Nicaragua, some students have their first exposure to the English language during the first five years of secondary school. Some of them find it very difficult.
My husband learned English as a second language, and reminds me all the time that English grammar rules and pronunciation can be exasperating! He gets frustrated with sentences like “there are two bears eating too much honey in their home.” Why are there so many forms of “to” and “their”? Why do heart, beard and heard all sound different even though they all contain E, A and R? And while Suzy has a Z and busy has an S, they sound the same.
All the frustration is worthwhile because English gives you access to knowledge. Approximately one billion internet users speak English, over three times as many as in Spanish. Most books are translated into English, and English-only magazines and newspapers can be bought in every part of the world. English is also the key to the world of science as it is considered the lingua franca of the scientific community. More than three-quarters of scientific papers today are published in English. Roughly 80% of all the journals indexed in Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature are published in English.
Besides giving access to information, English allows you to communicate with people around the world. English is the language most spoken across the globe with 1.5 billion speakers. Most international conferences and competitions are conducted in English. Diplomats and politicians from different countries use English to communicate with each other and English is one of the official languages of international organizations like the United Nations. And of course, lots of great music and movies are in English. I will not list all of the programs that the Embassy offers to students and teachers because there are so many, but I wanted to mention three of them. I think the most famous one is the English Access Microscholarship Program.
The Access program has taught English to nearly 2,000 high school students across Nicaragua. Raise your hand if you have graduated from the Access program or have taught in the Access program. Thank you, it’s great to see you here today!
Our College Horizons Outreach Program offers English scholarships to academically outstanding, low income students of indigenous or African descent. I would like to share just one success story with you. Eneyda Leiva, a student from a humble family with seven siblings from the indigenous community of Sébaco, completed her two years of English classes with College Horizons. She then received a full scholarship from UCA to study accounting and was the top student at her commencement a year ago. Today, she is an accountant at one of the largest banks in the country. She has served as an inspiration not only to her own family but also her community.
A newer embassy program is the Ambassador’s Scholarship for English Teachers, known as ASSETS. The embassy is granting scholarships to Nicaraguan English teachers to study at the Centro Espiral Mana in Costa Rica for four weeks and earn their TESOL certificate. These scholarships are valued at $2,800 each and cover all expenses.
Raise your hand if you have already earned your TESOL certificate from Centro Espiral Mana.
I would like to thank Mary Scholl, the director of the Centro Espiral Mana, for being such a great partner in this program. We still have 30 scholarships left so please visit the Embassy booth for an application.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate ANPI for another successful NicaTESOL conference. The Active Empowerment in the Classroom workshop will give students and instructors the key to the vehicle that will transport them on the highways of an increasingly interconnected world. The United States Embassy is committed to supporting these efforts to forge a more prosperous and secure Nicaragua. I invite you to visit our booth, to visit our website, and to continue participating in the scholarship programs we offer for English teachers. Enjoy these two days of workshops!
# # #