english as second language | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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english as second language

PDI Provides Visually Impaired Students with Free English Language Courses

Chya Fattah Abdullah, a law graduate from the Sulaimani University, works at a government office. Shanaw Peshraw is also a lawyer and works at the court in Sulaimani. Ali Kareem Salh studied history and is a pianist who hopes to be a music teacher one day. What they have in common is that they are all visually impaired and active members of the Blind Union of Kurdistan (BUK) in Sulaimani. All of them are also currently enrolled in English language courses run by the Professional Development Institute (PDI) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. PDI announced its partnership with the BUK back in 2013. As part of their mission to give back to the community, promote education and empower individuals, PDI decided to provide English language instruction to these visually impaired students at no cost. Chya, Shanaw and Ali were enrolled into the English courses through the BUK. These courses are conducted over the course of 10 weeks. “The ESL (English as Second Language) class is very good and useful. Most textbooks and resources about law are available in english language so its very useful for me professionally,” said Shanaw about the course. “Also, all the online information about my favourite sport, football, is in the english language,” he added with a smile.  Chya, in addition to her work at a public office, also hosts shows at a radio station. She plans to study for a masters degree in constitutional law. She also writes poems, and has already published some poetry for children. “This course is very useful for me because I’m going to study further, and I want to translate my poems into English. At the radio station, sometimes, I need to interview or talk to people in English on the programs. It’s also necessary for me in the public office when I deal with clients. I feel that it’s very important for my professional growth.” Ali is a pianist and explains that he joined the course so he can understand and utilize online musical resources. “My goal is to become a pianist and to be able to teach it to others. I want to learn to read notes in braille. On the internet I can take out all the stuff, but it’s all in English. I want to learn the language so I can play the piano.” Their teachers are really impressed with the amount of hard work the three students put into their work and their progress throughout the course. “I think they’re already higher than average compared to the others. My guess is that the strategies they’ve developed to cope with studies make them better students, more organized and disciplined. They are extremely attentive,” said ESL Instructor, Kyle McSweegan. “Chya is very active on facebook and she manages to do a lot on social media. She surprises me by how she knows spellings. I’ve really bonded with them, and I really enjoy the time with them.” Fleur Eccles, another ESL instructor agreed with McSweegan, “I find that they have this passion to not let their disability get in the way. It has been a great experience, and it’s really inspiring to see how hard they work in class and how they study for exams.” However, the students still face some challenges. They all feel that access to audio books can be a big help for people with visual disabilities. The students have mostly taken the initiative to record their textbooks themselves with the help of family or friends. “The faculty have been extremely helpful and the course is really useful. However, I would like to suggest to the university to get audio or braille books for students like us. It will really encourage more people with sight disabilities to enroll into courses at AUIS,” suggested Ali. The ESL instructors have also had to modify their methods to ensure that these students get the full benefits of the class. “It was difficult in the beginning, but I found that teaming them up with someone always worked well because I could not give my whole attention to them alone. It was challenging at first, but got easier after a couple of weeks,” said Eccles. Growing up, these students have had to face several challenges since an early age. They felt that they were discouraged by teachers at school who couldn’t cope with teaching them like other students. They were not provided with any facilities like audio or braille. Taking an exam was another complicated process, as they were not provided with any audio tests and worse still were not allowed to have anyone help them in writing down their answers. But, they have defied all these challenges and aspire to lead successful lives, both personally and professionally. They continue to bring these challenges to the attention of the government through the Blind Union. Encouraging other people with disabilities, Shanaw said, “Don’t treat the situation as a big problem. Accept it. Do not surrender to the problem. If you reach halfway, don’t stop there, go further! We have to break the culture that blind people can’t do anything.” AUIS and PDI will continue promoting the education of the visually impaired, improving the course materials and assisting them in achieving their goals by breaking down the barriers placed before them.

PDI to Provide English Language Courses to Hiwa Cancer Treatment Hospital

Sulaimani, Iraq – February 24, 2015 – The Professional Development Institute (PDI) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) announces that it has partnered with Hiwa Hospital to provide English language courses as part of the hospital’s long term vision to improve patient care and provide employees the opportunity to gain important language skills for both their personal and professional lives. Hiwa Hospital Director Dr. Dosti Othman emphasized that the hospital’s ultimate goal is to provide English language training for 120 hospital employees. The language training is an integral part of the hospital’s strategy to achieve international accreditations, for both individual departments such as laboratories, and for accreditation of specific individuals in their fields of competence. Dr. Dosti highlighted his belief that English language development should be an important part of any organization’s professional development program. Dr. Dosti thanked both PDI and Pewand Petroleum Trading Company, for their generous contributions in making these trainings possible. About the Professional Development Institute The Professional Development Institute complements the educational objectives of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani by providing opportunities for life-long learning through programs and services that enable participants to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve personal and professional goals, improve the productivity of organizations, and provide leadership and service to their communities. Working collaboratively with individuals, business and both government and non-governmental organizations, PDI seeks to identify and develop value-adding programs and services. PDI firmly believes that by providing consistent, ethical and quality programs and services it can play an important role in human capacity development for the community. About Hiwa Hospital Hiwa Hospital is a public hospital established in Sulaimani, Iraq, specializing in the care and treatment of both adult and children cancer patients. On a daily basis Hiwa Hospital receives over 350 patients and provides chemotherapy treatment for 150 patients. Treatment is provided free of charge and patients come from all Iraqi cities and provinces; 30% of patients are from southern and central Iraq.

My Summer with SHEP

During my final exams last month, I thought about how I should spend a month of my summer break before my trip to Greece. I knew it would be really boring to do nothing for a whole month. However, thanks to the AUIS Admission Office, I was offered the opportunity to serve as  a student instructor at the Summer Honors English Program (SHEP).   I received an e-mail from the AUIS Admission office stating that, “this summer AUIS’s Admissions Office will be teaching its first ever AUIS Summer Honors English Program! The program is free opportunity for top English-speaking 12th graders to get free English lessons and learn more about AUIS!" I found the course really interesting and wondered how I could be involved. Happily, the e-mail also indicated that the Admission Office would hire active and experienced students from among the AUIS student body .Luckily, I was selected to assist one of the instructors and work as a student instructor. Now, I am experiencing some of the most beautiful moments of my life. An AUIS APP instructor and I are leading a section of the course. We have about thirty 12th graders. It is worth mentioning that SHEP is a chance for the best English-speaking high school students in Sulaimani to improve their language skills. We have a lively mixture of fun English group activities, group work, and some English projects every day.   SHEP not only provides me with an opportunity to enjoy my summer break, but also gives me work experience for my future careers. What could be more interesting than being both an instructor and a student? It is a great feeling when you have the chance to be called a "teacher" while you are too young to have the title. SHEP dramatically increases my teaching and leadership skills. Every day, I learn something new as I work with wonderful students who are truly in love with the English Language and new ideas.   More to the point, SHEP allows me to implement what I was taught in the Georgetown University last year. I spent last summer at Georgetown University in Washington DC. We had various academic and leadership training programs for three weeks. I would never be able to recall all the necessary skills I was taught during the program. However, one of my Georgetown professors said something at the end of the course that is always in my mind. He said, "Try to implement whatever you have learned over this course when you return home." Now, I am happy to be able to contribute the knowledge I achieved during the program in the States. I am so happy that I could keep the promise I made to my professor. SHEP reminds me so much of the great moments I spent in Georgetown. We do a lot of same activities and English projects here at AUIS. One thing that really brought tears to my eyes today was a statement that a group of the students wrote on their posters to me. They wrote, "We dedicate this to you dear Mr. Mahdy. We hope you like it." I was almost crying when I read the message. It was very similar to what I used to write on several posters I did last summer in Georgetown. The only difference was that I wrote for my professors last year, but this time some students wrote it for me.  Last but not the least, I am grateful for all the contributions and enthusiasm that the students have shown during the course. I will never forget the great moments I shared with you all and will continue to share in the coming days this summer. You all bring more fruit to my life every day as we talk, walk, and do activities with each other.   
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