The U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Institute for International Affairs completed the sixth and final seminar aimed at improving the English skills of Lao officials working on health, environment, and infrastructure issues. Graduates received their certificates during a graduation reception at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Laos, Daniel Clune.
The seminar is part 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.
During the reception, Ambassador Clune emphasized the importance of English as a tool for communication and collaboration with Laos’ ASEAN neighbors. He noted that as the language of ASEAN and of international commerce, improved English skills will help prepare Lao for their chairmanship of ASEAN and moves towards greater economic integration in 2016.
All six of the English for Specialized Purposes (ESP) for Leaders Seminars took place at the Institute of Foreign Affairs from November through July, and the areas of specialization included best practices for agriculture, connectivity, education, energy, environment, and health. The seminars were 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 teachers from the Institute for Foreign Affairs.
LMI English Program participants will continue to improve their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills by working on projects conducted via video conferences and distance learning courses on the Internet. To date, the LMI English Program has trained more than 200 Lao officials.