Doha – QatarDebate Center
The U.S. Embassy in Qatar, in collaboration with the QatarDebate Center (QDC) – a member of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development – conducted an intensive 5-week English language program with 25 students based in Qatar October 2-November 5, 2020.
The series encouraged the 15-18-year-olds to engage with U.S. Embassy guests and the QDC team in practicing English through discussions and interactive lessons on the environment, water, climate change, moral philosophy, and social movements, among other topics. By applying methods customarily featured in debate teaching, the sessions proved to be an effective approach to encourage students to practice speaking English.
Ms. Amina Awartani, QatarDebate Coach; Ms. Khansa Maria, a senior at Georgetown University; Ms. Paula Masad – English Language & Education Advisor at U.S. Embassy Doha; and Ms. Aseel al-Ugaili – Cultural Affairs Specialist at U.S. Embassy Doha led the sessions.
With the encouragement and support of their trainers, the participants successfully communicated complex concepts in a language that is not their native tongue. They demonstrated that language should not be an obstacle when expressing opinions on social and environmental issues. According to Ms. Awartani, “We encouraged students to formulate their own ideas and answer questions raised during the sessions. We in turn, as coaches, helped them clarify and build their arguments, in order to facilitate engaging debates and a healthy exchange of ideas”. She noted that the diversity of participants was instrumental to the success of the workshop.
Students were tested before the program commenced and on the last day, when each student was asked to deliver a presentation on a pre-assigned topic, with impressive improvement and increased confidence in English-speaking among all participants.
Ms. Paula Masad noted that “the goal of the series was to encourage students to speak English confidently. Their final presentations demonstrated that they successfully met this goal.” “Throughout the series, we were impressed with the students’ participation and their willingness to engage in challenging conversations and share their opinions with their peers.”