FLORIDA - Learning English is becoming increasingly more important and necessary throughout the entire world.
FLORIDA – Learning English is becoming increasingly more important and necessary throughout the entire world.
The ever-growing mass media and social media allow people to communicate with others from around the world like never before—leading to a globalized world that encourages international business, travel, education and connections. In order to effectively share ideas and knowledge, there must be a common language. English may be the language that has the ability to create a common bridge between all countries, in order to expand dialogue and relations between people, companies and communities.
There is already an estimated 2 billion English speakers worldwide, and the native English speakers are outnumbered 2 to 1 by non-native speakers. The interest in learning English has pushed schools throughout the world to offer English as a language course. Implementing English language courses in a country where English is not prevalent requires dedicated teachers and even more so, dedicated students.
The debate concerning how to teach and acquire foreign language skills is exhaustive and will continue because new theories are constantly being developed. But despite constant revision, the objective is to teach the language so that students may use it as a communication tool in everyday life. It is important that by the end of their studies, students understand how to express themselves and engage in a conversation. The question becomes how to achieve this objective.
This past April, a pilot program called MATE (Moroccan Association of Teachers of English)–DEBATE ended the year with a very successful MATE-DEBATE Finals in Rabat. Abderrahim Saadouni started this program with the help of the MATE President, Abdellatif Zaki. MATE-DEBATE began in September 2012 and was implemented in one academy in Marrakesh-Tensift-Al Houz. The program was started as a way to give students studying English in Morocco a way to practice English in an encouraging and professional environment. Students must be given different opportunities to be successful in learning a language, and the MATE-DEBATE program is an opportunity that could have a tremendously positive impact on English language skills for non-native speakers.
At the beginning of the debate, the students are given a motion, for example, “Social media encourages freedom of expression.” There is a coin toss to determine what team is for and what team is against the motion and the teams then have 10 minutes to prepare their arguments. The first half of the debate is broken down into four sections. Team one gives two arguments for the motion and the second team gives two arguments against the motion. All of the sections are three minutes long and a different student from the teams gives each argument.
After the arguments for and against, there are four other sections, also three minutes long including; the proposition rebuttal, opposition rebuttal, proposition conclusion and opposition conclusion.
It is clear from watching the debates that the students enjoy the competitions and feel a sense of accomplishment. Throughout the entire process, the students are being encouraged to use English to express their opinions and to convince the judges that they have the most sound argument. When students are forced to step out of their comfort zones and use a foreign language in a real-life situation, the likelihood of language acquisition increases dramatically.
Sandra Haggart, one of the judges of the Marrakech Debate Regional Championship, wrote, “It was really great to see the young students giving up their free time to compete in this event. It was amazing to see how confident they were speaking in this environment in front of many people. They should feel proud of themselves for being perfect representatives for your schools.”
Following the success of the past year, the MATE-Debate program is planning to expand and invite more academies to take part in the National MATE-DEBATE Championship 2014. The program also plans to add more contests and challenges, such as “Public speaking” and “Persuasive Writing.”
Today, it is very common for people to criticize education, but then make no steps to try and better the system. It is encouraging to know that there are people like Mr. Saadouni and Mr. Zaki who are willing to take a risk and try new approaches to help their students exceed in their studies. Having such great success during the pilot year and with continued support, Abderrahim Saadouni is confident that the MATE-DEBATE program will continue to grow and help students achieve a higher level in their English studies.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed