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Rural schools get Fulbright touch

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 KUALA LUMPUR: Ten American youths have returned to teach English in rural Malaysian schools for a second year after an enriching experience last year under the Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) programme.

One of them is Anna Denisenko, 26, who taught at SMK Pusing, Batu Gajah, in Perak.

“The students were amazing. Through activities like games, I was able to impart more in-depth lessons,” said the Florida native who holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language.

Denisenko said her most memorable experience last year was in organising a three-day English camp for girls in Terengganu.

“During the camp, we talked about body image, self-care and stereotypes, and how to break those boundaries.

“The experience was empowering,” she recalled.

Denisenko is part of 100 ETAs assigned to secondary schools in eight states this year under the programme co-organised by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange and the Education Ministry to help raise English proficiency in schools.

Participants of the annual ETA scheme, which started in 2006, spend one month receiving training and nine months serving as teaching assistants at rural schools.

“The programme has received overwhelming response with a number of the participants asking to come back this year,” said the commission’s executive director Dr James Coffman.

Yesterday, Denisenko and her fellow ETAs were delighted to find out that they would be provided with a Chromebook laptop each as teaching aid. The devices, worth RM1,299 each, are sponsored by YTL Communications.

The company’s CEO Wing K. Lee said education was an important investment in propelling Malaysia towards Vision 2020.

“By empowering the ETAs with key technologies, we hope they will be able to create engaging content,” he said when announcing the sponsorship at YTL Network Operations Centre here.

Complete with 4G connectivity and the Frog Virtual Learning Environment, the Chromebook will allow ETAs to share lesson plans and teaching materials with their fellow assistants.

Texan Drew Hasson, 23, eagerly awaits his deployment to Sarawak.

“I’ve spent time in other parts of Asia, and I can’t wait to share all these different cultures with students,” he said.

Present at the event was the US Embassy deputy chief of mission Edgard Kagan, who hailed the ETA programme as being valuable to both countries.

*Extracted from The Star, January 21, 2015

Watch the video of the interview here.

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