Learning English in Timor

Learning English in Timor

Marino Fernandes from Balibo Community Learning Centre [where Michele and Gabby Rankin have been sharing their skills] shares a few paragraphs for the recent International English Language Learning Day [23 April].

The English language plays an important role in the life of the Timorese people. Learning English can provide socio-economic opportunities to assist the Timorese people especially if wanting to work abroad or within the tourism sector. English is studied in secondary schools and available at the tertiary level. Vocational English is generally self-taught or a short-term English course is undertaken if available and affordable.

Supporting the optimal development of the Timorese learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL), relies on the competencies and standards of the teachers and the curriculum implemented. There are development concerns and issues that are faced by both the educator and learners of vocational English.

English materials and resources are not readily available especially in the rural and remote areas of Timor-Leste. The search engine Google is a primary resource followed by libraries which are under resourced and limited. Many cannot afford to learn English. There are also concerns with the teaching standards and the quality of programs offered.

Research into EFL teacher education programs, learning methodologies and the theoretical frameworks currently applied to teach English is necessary to develop quality training. An analysis of competency levels and standards must be assessed in order to facilitate the improvement of teaching and learning skills to advance educational outcomes.

Establishing quality standards and professional expertise in English teaching and training is complex and difficult. However, there are entities such as the Balibo 5 Community Learning Centre that have adopted theoretical and practical frameworks, competencies, standards and values that demonstrates a positive example of quality education.