British Council's page 'Learn English' a hit on Facebook
DAMMAM, Nov 29, 2012 (Arab News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The British Council's "Learn English" page on one of the popular social networking sites is revolutionizing English language learning across Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
"The Learn English -- British Council MENA page on Facebook, which is specifically tailored to learners aged 18-35, is exceeding all expectations," said Heba Al-Aqrabawi, media coordinator at the British Council in Alkhobar. "It is attracting more than 10,000 new fans every week, and the page now has more than 1,000,000 fans, an increase of over 200 percent in less than 18 months."
According to her, the Facebook page takes learning out of the classroom and into the social media world. It is part of a wider plan to engage learners and start to change attitudes and empower individuals to learn independently.
"The Facebook page aims to draw learners into the wealth of fun, interactive self-study materials the British Council has to offer them, and demonstrate how learning alone -- or with virtual friends -- can be fun and effective," she said.
"Learning English is rapidly growing in popularity in the Middle East and North Africa, as the region increases its interaction with the international business community," said Al-Aqrabawi.
The page offers a range of dynamic, interactive activities including daily-updated content from the British Council Learn English websites, diverse discussions, and quizzes and competitions. The most popular feature, receiving more than 200 likes per session, is the English Doctor Service, where a highly experienced British Council teacher is available online to answer questions, offer advice and tips, and to direct fans to relevant resources.
In addition to social media, the British Council has developed a suite of other digital products such as content and resource-rich websites targeting children, teens, teachers and parents, and mobile apps for English and IELTS preparations materials as well as reasonably priced online courses for learners and teachers.
"We use surveys and analytics to ascertain what the fans want on the page, and then provide appropriate and engaging new content every day in order to help boost confidence and improve vocabulary, grammar, conversation skills, fluency, and pronunciation," said Dalia Adel, regional digital English project manager at the British Council (MENA).
A growing number of fans are said to be teachers who use the page as a platform to interact with their students or to access other resources such as the dedicated Teach English Better website, which has hundreds of the British Council English language lesson plans and provides online professional development courses.
According to Nic Humphries, director of English at the British Council (MENA), English is an essential life skill, and research the council has carried out shows that strong English skills not only provide better access to employment but also impacts salary levels.
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