Better English and the Link to Higher Growth, Investment and Income

Better English and the Link to Higher Growth, Investment and Income

May 15, 2014 at 04:05pm

Countries with higher levels of English proficiency have higher rates of economic growth, higher personal incomes and greater foreign investment. On an individual level, workers with strong English skills can earn 30%-50% more than peers with lower English proficiency.

With that in mind, there is both good news and caution to be found in the most recent edition of the “Education First English Proficiency Index,” which found the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the weakest region in English proficiency. Exceptions include Turkey, which improved the most of any nation globally between 2007-2012, and the UAE, which was the 11th most improved globally. Egypt also was in the top 25 most improved. On the other hand, English proficiency slipped in Morocco and Kuwait, and fell by larger amounts in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Algeria.

Working to directly address this issue, GE Foundation is supporting an ongoing project by the non-profit AMIDEAST educational organization, in partnership with the World Learning/SIT Graduate Institute, to address the shortage of well-trained, certified English-language teachers. This is being done at a time when MENA educational systems cannot meet this demand and few other options exist.

Launched in 2012, the Professional Certificate in English Language Teaching (PCELT) program has already trained and certified 132 English language teachers in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Palestine (24 each) and Iraq and Morocco (18 each). Nearly all are public school teachers. As well, 20 local PCELT trainers have been qualified to provide PCELT training to English-language teachers across the region, including 11 who have already been licensed.

Zeinab Deymi-Gheriani, a teacher from Tunisia who completed the PCELT program, said she has totally changed her style of instruction. “Now I put my students at the heart of the learning process. I’ve learned to step back, speak less, and give the students ample time to think and voice their ideas.”

The 120-hour PCELT program is based on an experiential approach that encourages participants to observe, analyze, experiment with, and adapt a broad range of new teaching practices. It includes practical teaching experience in a real English-language classroom.

The goal is to establish PCELT as a large-scale, internationally recognized teacher certificate program that is uniquely suited to the region’s diverse teaching needs and learning contexts.

GE has been a partner to the MENA region’s economic development for more than 80 years. For more on GE’s work in the region, click here.

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