VOA’s Learning English program is bringing its decades’ long expertise of teaching foreign audiences the English language to refugee camps in Bangladesh. Learning English is VOA’s multimedia source of news and information for millions of English learners worldwide.
At the end of March, a VOA Learning English team travelled to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to train 100 English teachers using a range of multimedia materials. The training program includes follow-up virtual classroom sessions, as well as VOA Learning English content accessible at the camp’s learning centers and though mobile devices.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees invited VOA to provide six days of intensive training on teaching techniques and methods for selected teachers. The teachers, in turn, will use the acquired knowledge to train another 5,000 of their colleagues in order to provide English lessons for refugees in the camp. The refugees requested this training during a visit by VOA Director Amanda Bennett at the Cox’s Bazar camps last year.
Rahma Rashid Toki, one of the selected teachers, told the VOA Learning English team she was ready to quit on the first day of training. By the end of the course, Toki commented: “When I came to the first day of training, I felt nervous. I decided I will not continue. Already I had applied to leave. But my P.O. (personnel officer) would not accept my application to leave. He said to me that this training is important and necessary. Now that the training is finished, I realize it’s really important for me and my students!”
Francis Nath a UN Education Associate at Cox’s Bazar who assisted with the training, said “you can see the [teachers’] level of English competency improve dramatically by the second day.”
VOA’s Learning English service uses clear and simple vocabulary to teach American English on radio, television, Internet, and mobile.
Learning English began as Special English, which VOA launched in 1959. Special English newscasts and features were a primary fixture of VOA’s international shortwave broadcasts for more than half a century. In 2014, the line of products was expanded to include more English teaching materials, and the service became known as Learning English.