The third phase of the Presidential Initiative ‘English as a life skill’ was launched at Temple Trees yesterday. Marking the occasion at a ceremony in Temple Trees, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was officially handed over a set of 50 English language learning DVDs for grades 10 and 11 together with a toolbox of activities for Spoken English for grades 6 to 11. The program promotes English Language Skills, especially speaking and communication skills across the country with the guidance and support of the Presidential Task Force on English and IT, the Ministry of Education, and the Provincial Ministries of Education. President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched the National Road Map to promote Spoken/ Communicative English skills in Sri Lanka on July 19, 2009.
60% of the 22,500 English teachers of the country were trained to teach spoken English through an accelerated program that will be completed by the end of the year. The testing of listening and speaking skills at the O/Level Examination was targeted for 2010 with testing tools developed by NIE and the Sri Lanka India Centre for English Language Training in collaboration with the Commissioner General of Examinations. Re-visiting the school English syllabi commenced to ensure that they cater to the needs of the second language learner in the Sri Lankan context and is not beyond his/her capabilities.
In addition, the country’s first teacher guide for spoken English was produced, used and revised after one year by the Master Trainers themselves during the 1st phase. A Sri Lanka-India Centre for English Language Training (SLICELT) with modern technology and local and India resource persons was established at Peradeniya with Indian government assistance. Also, Indian government assistance was successfully negotiated to establish nine Provincial Sri Lanka India Centers for English Language Training (SLICELTs) with state-of-the-art teaching technology, residential facilities for 80 trainers and local and India resource persons in each Centers in the course of 2010-2011.
During the first phase, a 100 hour curriculum with teaching ads for a Certificate Course in Basic English for the general public including school leavers was produced by a team of Sri Lankan ELT trainers. A public examination for a Certificate in Basic English to be conducted by the Commissioner General of Examinations was also designed.
The preparation of a Teacher Guide on ‘Sri Lankan English Standards’- Phonology, Vocabulary and Syntax (including grammar, word order and idiom) was entrusted to an Academic Committee during phase 1. Their work will be completed in August 2010.
In addition, a special Presidential Program Unit (PPU) was established as the Ministry of Education at ‘Isurupaya’ under the Additional Secretary (Education Quality Development) to work in harmony with the Presidential Task Force and the Presidential Secretariat.