Mobile English: @StateDept Pilots Language Learning Program in Tunisia

Posted by Suzanne Hall
December 13, 2011
Man Types on His Mobile Device

On November 17, 2011, the Department of State launched our first mobile-based English language learning program in Tunisia. The project was developed in partnership with U.S. Embassy Tunis, Tunisiana (the largest mobile network operator in Tunisia) and Tunisian education partner, Edupartage. Over the course of the 90 day pilot, millions of Tunisian mobile subscribers can learn English phrases and expressions for free on their cell phone by dialing *136# to access Najja7ni mobile English.

This program offers interactive questions in everyday English for beginner and intermediate speakers. Our Regional English Language Officer and an English Language Specialist worked with Edupartage's local teacher committee to develop lessons focused on travel, technology, society, the environment, telecommunications, and many other subjects. To get a better feel for the system, check out the great video that U.S. Embassy Tunis produced that shows how it works.

Following the revolution, Tunisians from throughout the country and representing diverse backgrounds expressed an increased interest in English language learning opportunities. We developed this project to help respond to that demand. We leveraged mobile technology to make it happen, given over 100 percent mobile penetration in Tunisia and the capability to reach not only the larger urban centers, but more rural areas of the country.

English language programs are a critical element of our public diplomacy toolkit. State's English language programs offer both foreign teachers and students tangible educational and professional opportunities by improving their English speaking, reading, writing and teaching skills. From our perspective, connecting with individuals globally via the English language offers us an incredible way to build mutual understanding between the American people and people of other nations. One popular example of our in-person English language training is the Access Microscholarship Program. Through Access, U.S. Embassies around the world connect with around 80,000 youth, enabling talented 14 to 18 year old kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to learn English and leadership skills during after school classes and summer programs.

Mobile-based English language programs can be a fantastic complement to classroom learning experiences -- encouraging users to practice and improve their English "where they live" (on their mobile phone), and perhaps sign up for more formal English classes. This is one critical way in which the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is embracing Secretary Clinton's vision for 21st Century Statecraft. We look forward to learning from this pilot, and incorporating best practices in future deployments of mobile English around the world.

We'd love to hear what you think about this program. Send me a tweet or post your thoughts on U.S. Embassy Tunis' Facebook page.



Indiana, USA
December 19, 2011

Dickens in Indiana writes:

Really wonderful posts. Thanks for sharing.


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