From education to employment

Teaching English in the Congo

Recent events in the République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) have sadly re-enforced what is, to be realistic, the bad image of the West African country. It is easy to be gloomy about the RDC, given the fact that it is one of the ten poorest nations, has an unemployment rate of over 80%, an illiteracy rate of over 40% and huge numbers of street kids. And that is without taking internal conflict into account.

But there is also good news. For all its problems the RDC has one major asset – its people – whose warm personality and burning desire to improve their situation would put many ‘westerners’ to shame. Everywhere you go there is extreme poverty and dilapidation, yet scratch beneath the service and you will find many, many positive aspects.

One such example is the success of the RDC’s first ESOL course aimed at training peacekeepers. Thanks to Beaconsfield Language Services, two English instructors were sent to the Groupement des Ecoles Superieures Militaires, about 40 minutes south of Kinshasa, to run a six-week intensive course to enable these francophone peacekeepers to operate alongside predominantly anglophone allies. The students received intensive instruction in interpreting and, as a result, the RDC now has a pool of highly skilled linguists.

James Gilmour, of Beaconsfield Language Services, said: "Teaching professional English is completely different from teaching general language and we were extremely pleased to put our expertise to such good use.

"The students were excellent pupils and they made superb progress. We are delighted to hear that this assignment should be repeated and look forward to being of service to other organisations which require quality English language tuition."

Alan Corbett, instructor, said: "This was the highlight of my teaching career. I have spent much of my working life in Africa and it was great to be able to use the unique knowledge acquired to such good benefit. I am counting down the days until the next course!"

Pictured: Alan instructing two peacekeepers

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