Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Troy Fitrell at the 4th ELPA Annual Conference

Troy Fitrell
U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission
at the 4th English Language Professionals Association Annual Conference
WISE, Addis Ababa
April 28, 2018

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning!

My name is Troy Fitrell and I am delighted to be here at the opening of the 4th English Language Professionals’ Annual Conference – “Building Reading Culture in Schools.”

This two-day event will bring together over 325 English language professionals throughout Ethiopia and ten English Language Fellows who are teaching in Africa – Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The U.S. Embassy is proud to support English language teaching in Ethiopia, and we have made it a priority in our engagement with universities and others.  In the 21st century mastery of English language is not just a luxury, it is a requirement for full engagement in the global economic and global scholarship.  It is the accepted language for international trade and academic scholarship, among many other things. Plus, from personal experience, knowledge of English opens up an entire world of wonderful authors, films, plays and other cultural richness that spans the globe.

For these reasons, we not only provide resources to schools, universities and young students and support exchange programs in this area, but perhaps more importantly we support Ethiopian institutions that have the lead in expanding and strengthening the teaching of English in Ethiopia.  Some of our Important programs include English Language Fellows, who are American English teaching professionals who are embedded in a local institution for an entire year to strengthen pedagogy, teaching and curricula, and the English Access Micro Scholarship Program, a special program designed to teach young boys and girls in secondary school from economically disadvantaged backgrounds intensive English and leadership skills, and some American culture too, over a two year period.

The English Language Professionals’ Association, otherwise known as ELPA, is precisely that sort of institution, and we are proud to work with ELPA to strengthen its capacity and improve its ability to deliver quality English instruction across Ethiopia. The U.S. Embassy certainly cannot do this alone, but working with partners such as ELPA we can make a very positive impact in this important area.

Each year, the English Language Professionals’ Association chooses a theme for the Annual Conference.  This year the spotlight is on reading.

Over the next two days, all of you will be able to share ideas, techniques, activities, and resources for promoting reading inside as well as outside of the classroom.

Learning to read is about listening and understanding as well as working out what’s printed on the page.

Studies have shown that students who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures.

In fact, reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.

At the end of the conference, I hope you will come away with ideas of how to foster a love of reading among your students.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the organizing committee of the ELPA’s 4th Annual Conference for their hard work.  Organizing Committee members, please stand so that we can acknowledge your efforts.

Moreover, ELPA has established additional chapters in Ethiopia – Assosa, Bahir Dar, Dire Dawa, and Hawassa.

Lastly, I would like to recognize the ten English Language Fellows who are presenting at the 4th Annual Conference.  These fellows are part of the Department of State’s efforts to teach English, promote English curriculum development, and enhance teaching professionalism throughout the world.   Through projects sponsored by U.S. embassies, the fellows share their professional expertise, hone their skills, gain international experience and learn about other cultures.

Again, thank you.  I wish you all a very successful ELPA 4th Annual Conference.