|Graduating students accept certificates during the graduation ceremony of the 17th class to graduate from Kabul Military Training Centre English Language Training Centre. Soldiers come from all over Afghanistan for a chance to learn English at the eight-month course.
NATO Training Mission- Afghanistan, Public Affairs Kabul Military Training Centre held a graduation ceremony for the last class mentored by Americans before the English Training Centre transitioned from NTM-A to the Afghan National Army and Afghan Foreign Language Institute on Aug. 1.
"First of all I am very thankful for my American instructors,” said Bilal Stanikzai, an English teacher at KMTC. "They helped and supported us a lot and trained us and also trained the students. Today was the transition day, the course was submitted from the Americans to the Afghan teachers. I'm real happy now that Afghanistan and Afghan people can teach by themselves and serve by themselves without any help or any support.”
"First, it's my willingness, and I'm eager to be an English instructor and teach everywhere,” said Shapoor Paiman, an English instructor. "It's my profession, and I like this job, to do more and more for my people.”
The KMTC English Department started in 2003 and since then, more than 580 Afghan National Army service members from all over Afghanistan have graduated from the eight-month course. In order to pass the class, students have to reach a score of at least 55 or higher.
"A score of 55,” said Suzette K. Nelson, site lead for the English Language program at KMTC, "which is a very difficult thing, considering that how many words there are and ideas that you can express with the English language, the English vocabulary, a lot of them come with no English, and in eight months they need to be able to score 50% or higher of what a native speaker would speak.”
During this cycle, there have been contract instructors who have also helped the ANA officers teach the course. In order for the Afghan instructors to teach the course they have to have knowledge in the English language and need to prove that they can speak English.
"There are five contract instructors,” said Nelson. "There were several ANA officers who also taught here during the course of the last cycle, and we've also had three American mentors from the Defense Language Institute here working with us.”
"They have to have a basic-a better than basic English vocabulary,” said Nelson. "They have to pass a language proficiency test and they have to prove that they can speak English in order to teach it.”
According to Nelson, a lot of the ANA soldiers who finish the English program at KMTC, travel to the San Antonio Defence Language Institute for training in basic teaching skills and some of them even went to advanced teacher training. When they come back to teach, their main job is to help the Afghan teachers become better teachers because they are teaching the curriculum.
"They have to be disciplined,” said Nelson. "They have to work hard, and they've got to focus. They're pretty much assigned here; this is their job for the eight months.”
English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and one of the international languages for diplomacy and business. It's also the official language of international aviation and is one of the common languages between people of differing native tongues, according to Barbara Goodno, chief of the Literacy and Language Division.
"English is an international language and now if you see technology, science, and everything else, it is in English,” said Stanikzai.
"It's a part of our life, so it's necessary and mandatory to learn English, to tackle our daily problems,” said Paimau.
The students have been very successful in completing and scoring well above average in the course. With dedicated teachers and students, the Afghans hope to continue teaching English.
"Our job here as mentors, was to help them stand up and the students have been phenomenal, the administration has been phenomenal and they are ready to carry the program on by themselves,” said Nelson. "This is very successful. It has been, for me personally as a site lead, has been a phenomenally rewarding experience to watch these men come in with the level of enthusiasm they've had for learning English.”
NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan is a coalition of 38 troop contributing nations assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country's security by 2014.
By: SrA Samantha Krolikowski