Public schools in Dubai have taken up the challenge of improving the English language skills of their students after surveys last year found them lacking.
Several schools have hired private consultants to enrich their curriculum and there have been signs of progress.
One of the schools that has taken the lead is Jumeirah Model School for Girls, which hired the iEnglish Institute in November last year to initiate a turnaround.
Teachers and students in the schools claim it has been really helpful.The progress became evident when the students, who were unable to write correct sentences in English just a few months ago, hosted a show in English fluently on Wednesday."It's impressive the way they have improved over the last five months. The programme implemented by iEnglish has really helped in turning things around. We are planning to initiate similar programmes in more public schools," said Mubarak Ali Humaidi, a representative of the Ministry of Environment, who attended the concluding ceremony of the programme at the school.
He added that following the success of the programme at Jumeirah Model School, several schools including Mohammad Bin Rashid Model School, Otba Bin Ghezwan Public School, Al Ibda School and Al Sufouh School have initiated the project.
The programmes involve making learning English more fun and lively, with workshops, outdoor visits, teamwork and fun games.
Hydar Abu Shaqra, head of training and operations at iEnglish Institute, said: "We believe in engaging the students rather than teaching them. It is the process that decides the end and not the other way round. We do the survey first to see the level of the students and design the programmes accordingly. So it differs from school to school and student to student."
The training involves all aspects of communication as well as table manners, cultural awareness, etc.
"Most of our activities are conducted by native speakers who not only impart the theory but immerse the students in different situations, where they experience firsthand how to behave and interact in a particular situation," Abu Shaqra added.
Conveying the message
The programme also makes use of multimedia, information technology and movies to convey the idea.
Shaikha Saleh Al Ali, the coordinator of the English department at Jumeirah Model School, said the programme has been very helpful in shaping the way students handle English.
"More than anything else, the students are very confident now when it comes to communicating in English," Shaikha Saleh said.