While on their placement training in Cambodia and Laos, young and thriving apprentices of the Brunei-U.S. English Language Teaching Apprenticeship (ETA) are making lasting impacts on the community and schools in their respective placement countries through active engagement with the local community.
After spending 10 accumulated weeks of study in UBD and the East-West Centre in Hawai’i, USA, the apprentices began their 10-month placements in primary schools in Laos and Cambodia this January. Eight students are assigned to three primary schools in Cambodia, while nine others are spending their placement in three primary schools in Laos. In a short three-month period, the apprentices are making significant impacts on the local community through their English language teaching in the assigned schools and community service to improve the local community’s proficiency in English language.
Apprentices in the Chaktomuk Primary School in Cambodia undertook a project to revamp an old classroom to create a healthier and more learning-conducive environment for the students. The community project came as a bonus to their English language teaching as it allowed the apprentices to form a stronger bond with their students and co-workers by practising oral English with them.
Those assigned to Thong Kang Primary School in Laos extended their community service beyond the school as the group of apprentices devised a project to provide free English language guidebooks to employees in the local service industry such as taxi drivers and street merchants. “We have seen (the) local employees having frequent contact with tourists and expatriates yet they are unable to communicate effectively where in turn it may lead to misunderstanding between two parties,” apprentice Anjelin Po said. She added that if the guidebooks see demand in the future, the group will extend the scope of the project to other sectors of the service industry just as wait staff and hospitality staff.
The ETA Programme is an initiative under the Brunei - U.S. English Language Enrichment Project (ELEP) for ASEAN, aiming to strengthen ASEAN integration through building English language capacity, promote greater awareness of the rich cultural diversity in ASEAN countries, and facilitate communication between teacher-trainers, officers, and diplomats in the region. It seeks to improve the apprentices’ employability skills by preparing them to be teachers of English language while enhancing their entrepreneurial skills.
Several of the apprentices noted that their school assignments and community projects have allowed them to discover and explore their entrepreneurial potential, and gave them a new understanding of what being “entrepreneurial” means. Siti Najihah Kamilah Latif at Toul Kork Primary School, Cambodia learned that entrepreneurship is about creating and adding value to the work they do - adapting, being resourceful and managing the classroom effectively.
“As part of a team of young English educators, we are constantly evolving and adapting our teaching methods to suit all levels of English learners. We are a team of risk takers and innovators. The implementation and completion of our projects in few months’ time, and the initial idea to promote ourselves as English Teacher Apprentices from Brunei Darussalam, we are slowly paving our way for future business opportunities not only in Brunei but also at a more regional level.” said Nazurah Salleh, who is teaching at Thong Kang Primary School in Laos.
The blended learning setting of the ETA Programme where entrepreneurial knowledge and skills are combined with real-life international assignment experiences, will widen the apprentices’ perspectives, enrich their exposure to diverse culture and worldviews, challenge their outlooks, establish fresh entrepreneurial mind-sets, and harness their commitment to face the challenges of the 21st century. It is hoped that the programme will produce a generation of entrepreneurial, visionary Bruneian who are motivated to progress, and uplift Brunei as a focal provider of teachers of English for ASEAN and other regions of Asia.
The Brunei-U.S. English Language Enrichment Project is a joint initiative supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MoFAT) of Brunei Darussalam and the United States Department of State that involves many countries of ASEAN. It was inaugurated in UBD by His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012. It aims to improve the level of English among the participants and strengthen English teaching in the countries concerned, and help integrate the ASEAN member states.
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