The U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Institute for International Affairs opened the sixth and final of six seminars aimed at improving the English skills of Lao officials working on health, environment, and infrastructure issues. U.S. Ambassador to the Lao P.D.R. Daniel A. Clune and Director General of the Institute of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yong Chanthalangsy officially opened the seminar at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Institute of Foreign Affairs in Vientiane.
The first five English for Specialized Purposes (ESP) for Leaders Seminars took place at the Institute of Foreign Affairs from October through March, and the areas of specialization were; best practices on international customs, agriculture and food security, environment and water security, education reform, and energy security and urban planning.
Lao officials from the Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, and Defense will participate in the sixth seminar, which focuses on trans-boundary health issues. At the opening ceremony, both Ambassador Clune and Ambassador Chanthalangsy stressed the importance of specialized English language training, particularly in areas such as health, where Lao P.D.R. officials will use their English skills to effectively communicate with ASEAN partners in addressing common challenges in the region.
During the seminar, the participants will learn how to write a press release and project abstract, role-played round table discussions and problem solving, record a video, and create and present a PowerPoint presentation based on their current professional projects. Following completion of the seminar, the participants will continue to improve their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills by working on collaborative projects conducted via video conferences, and with distance learning courses on the Internet.
All of the ESP seminars will be led by Mr. Christopher McFarland, an English Language Fellow working for the U.S. State Department in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, along with two co-teachers from the Institute for Foreign Affairs.
The ESP program grew out of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), an effort by the U.S. government to increase regional cooperation among the Lower Mekong nations in the areas of education, energy, environment, agriculture and food security, health, as well as connectivity. The program is designed to give officials from the Lower Mekong countries the specialized English skills they need to be effective in meetings, presentations and workshops.