The thirst worldwide for accessible high quality English language materials and instruction is unrivaled. English is the first language in human history to have more learners than native speakers. It is the primary language of commerce, science, academia, and entertainment. Almost all information and communication on the Internet is in English.
The U.S. Department of State understands this, which is why the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) Office of English Language Programs serves as our primary hub for all things English. What is our mission? In short, our office uniquely combines language learning and teaching communities with opportunities for involvement with public diplomacy initiatives. We do this by designing and implementing programs at the precise point of intersection between the needs of the community and the goals of the Department.
From our office in Washington, DC, we support the work of 25 Regional English Language Officers (RELOs) at U.S. Embassies worldwide. Regional English Language Officers are Foreign Service Specialists who are experts in English language teaching and learning. For much of the English teaching world outside the United States, these skilled specialists are their primary contact with embassies and are very often seen as the face of the U.S. government and the American people.
To complement our 25 Regional English Language Officers overseas, we have a team of civil and Foreign Service Officers in Washington who support their efforts and maintain a portfolio of global programming opportunities from which they can draw. These include the English Language Fellow and Specialist programs and American English E-Teacher, among many others. U.S. and international TESOL professionals interested in participating in one of our programs or learning more about the materials we develop can visit us online at http://americanenglish.state.gov to learn more.
Everywhere we work, we find that the demand for our programming far outstrips our capacity to deliver. In many parts of the world, no matter our relationship with the host government, English, it seems, is the one place where we can find easy access to communities, institutions, and ministries of education.
English is not only an incredible opportunity for learners outside the United States, but for the Department of State as well.
About the Author: John Mark King serves as the Digital Branch Chief in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' Office of English Language Programs.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.