300,000 patients for 'English Doctor' in Middle East and North Africa
20 September 2011
A ground-breaking Facebook page set up by the British Council to help people in the Middle East and North Africa to learn English has this week surpassed a major milestone - gaining its 300,000th subscriber.
The Go4English page (http://www.facebook.com/go4english) is part of the British Council’s English for the Future project in the MENA region. It features a twice-weekly ‘English Doctor’ clinic, where learners’ questions are answered by two British Council English teachers based in the region. The page, which is attracting an average of 10,000 new subscribers every week, is specifically tailored to Arabic speakers learning English in MENA – where more than 50 million people are estimated to be taking formal English lessons, with many more learning informally.
Social media is becoming increasingly important in the region following the Arab Spring and offers a unique way to support the many English learners who may have to contend with the fact that their teachers often lack access to training and good-quality teaching materials. Many learners live outside the cities where the British Council has teaching centres and many cannot afford the time or money to take formal courses.
The British Council is tackling these issues by creating an online community of learners and providing them with good language content daily from the British Council’s English web pages. It is an English ‘snack’ for their coffee break at work, or while relaxing in cyberspace.
However, it is part of a wider plan to engage learners and start to change attitudes and approaches to learning. The Facebook page aims to draw learners into the wealth of fun, interactive self-study materials the British Council has to offer them and demonstrate how learning alone - or with virtual friends - can be fun and effective.
The page offers new ways of learning independently, getting users to experiment with new learning tools such as the British Council’s mobile English products, conversation classes in Second Life, and LearnEnglish Radio series.
Nic Humphries, the British Council’s Director of English in the MENA region, said: “With many learners of English still facing numerous challenges in the Middle East and North Africa, the key to their success is going to be learning how to learn independently. In MENA, as in many other parts of the world, learner autonomy is a fairly new concept and students can often feel lost without someone directing their learning and telling them what to do. That’s where we see a role for the British Council – and this huge demand is what the Facebook page is helping to address.”
For more information, contact Mark Moulding in the British Council Press Office on +44 (0) 207 389 4889 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. We work in over 100 countries in the arts, education and English and in 2010/11 we engaged face to face with 30 million people and reached 578 million. We have 6,800 staff worldwide. Our total turnover in 2010/11 was £693 million, of which our grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was £190 million. The remainder was generated through trading activities such as English language teaching. For every £1 of taxpayer money invested we earn £2.65 in additional income. For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org