Radio English helps rural learners

28 Nov

Malak ShaherPublished:28-11-2011

SANA’A Nov. 26 — For Mohammad Al-Tashi, 26, English has become more interesting with an educational series on Radio Shabab.

“I think that listening to lessons on the Radio is more interesting and exciting,” said Al-Tashi.

The series are part of the educational program by the British Council, an international organization for education and cultural relations.

The program, “Learn English via Radio and Newspapers”, creates convenient opportunities for Yemenis interested in learning English from native speakers. The program has been developed by a team of British Council experts, according to Edrees Al-Qadasi from the organization.

Al-Tashi is from Rada’a, a rural area in Al-Baida governorate, and graduated from high school six years ago. He has been following other educational series but said that the radio shows are more interesting.

The show, named Obla Air, is broadcast through Radio Shabab in the form of weekly lessons every Wednesday at 7:40pm, set around the interaction between a pilot, crew, staff and passengers of a small independent airline office called Obla Air.

“In Obla Air, people speaking English in many dialects are involved in the lessons,” said Al-Qadasi.

“This gives English learners the opportunity to adapt to the many dialects people from different cultures might use.”

The international context of the travel business provides a believable arena in which people from many different countries can interact – but the focus of the series is not so much on the airline and the experience of flying as on the relationships between the characters.

The series consists of 20 lessons and is developed by British experts especially for learners in Arab countries.

The rock of the business and the central character of the series is the redoubtable Betsy who runs the Obla office in a shed on the airport’s perimeter. It is she who has to handle the irate passengers who have missed their flights, the dreamers who try to blag free tickets and the strange crates that mysteriously turn up.

Much of the action takes place in the Obla office, but there are also scenes in the nearby shops and cafes, as well as plenty of banter with Bosie the taxi driver.

Al-Qadasi said that other than the radio series, two other print series are to be published on a weekly basis every Wednesday in Al-Wasat Newspaper and every Sunday on Al-Share’a newspaper.

Both are related to the British Council’s Premier Skills Program, which helps deliver English educational content.

The Premier Skills Program is the first of four, followed by General English, Family English and Business English. They are to be published in the advanced stages.

Each lesson finishes with a question so that learners feel more interested to follow and find the answer in the coming lessons. Learners are urged to answer questions via SMS and enter a prize draw to win laptops every week. These questions are developed in an educational yet fun way to encourage more people to learn English and ensure more engagement with the lessons.

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