Today, English is the most widely spoken language in the world. Despite the increasing interest in learning English in Armenia, the country still falls behind in terms of actual speakers – in particular outside of Yerevan. The vast majority of the schools in Armenia offer English as a foreign language. However, the quality of the teaching is not sufficient.
English Access Program, co-funded by the US Embassy and implemented by COAF for the last 9 years, has helped to address the discrepancies of English language instruction in Armenia on different levels, by emphasizing a communicative approach to teaching, using student-centered and project-based learning methods, integrating technology into the curriculum, fostering community-led activities and building local teachers’ capacity.
The English Access Program is a 2-year after-school program designed for 13-15-year olds in 4 modules: twice a week interactive instruction, enhancement activities with guest speakers, intensive sessions through field trips and small projects. Enhancement activities focus on introducing students to Armenian and US holidays, culture, traditions. Intensive sessions follow a summer school format, which boosts student motivation to improve learning outcomes, enhance personal growth, career orientation, and professional choices.
The program’s sustainability is ensured through building the local capacity, with a blend of on-the-job mentorship and in-classroom training program for instructors. Through a tailored program targeting improvement of teaching skills, classroom management, and other key components of language instruction, local teachers get assessment feedback by lead teachers helping identify and agree around challenges.
To maintain the language proficiency of Access alumni and to strengthen their network, several types of interventions are offered, among them TOEFL iBT preparation course, “Project Bloom”-creative writing course for those who want to leverage creative expression and experiential learning.
Since 2011, as a result of learning English in 2 years, 1253 students can now communicate in English and use the language to apply for different international programs, and have access to the international resources, regardless of their profession.