Ambassador’s Remarks for the Opening of English Teaching Annual Conference

Members of the Board of Directors of Instituto Cultural Dominico-Americano;

Members of the table of honor;

International Guests and Speakers;

English teachers;

Members of the press:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning.  I am very excited to be here today at the opening of this Annual Conference on Teaching English as a Second Language, hosted by the Instituto Cultural Dominico-Americano, and co-sponsored by our Embassy.  We are honored to bring to you Dr. Leslie Opp-Beckman as our keynote speaker for this event.  She has been an English Language Specialist and consultant in more than 40 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America and is a recognized global expert on teaching English.

I would like to note our distinguished Ministers here today and thank them for their ongoing efforts.  Among her many accomplishments, Higher Education Minister Melo Cardona has funded an English Immersion program since 2005 for underserved youth with more than 46,000 graduates.  For years, her Ministry has also partnered with the U.S. Embassy to support Dominicans to study in the U.S. through the Fulbright Scholarship program.  Minister of Education Amarante Baret is working to make important changes in the educational system for all young Dominicans by extending the school day, constructing new classrooms, and improving teacher training.  Thank you both for your leadership.  President Medina’s and your leadership and commitment is essential to improving the Dominican public education system, which today is rated one of the lowest in the world.  Our work today contributes to your efforts to improve educational instruction in the Dominican Republic.

Today in this conference, “English: A Bridge to the World”, you will be able to exchange ideas and experiences with your colleagues, and also benefit from the knowledge of international and local experts and the experiences of your fellow teachers.

Helping smart, young people around the world to improve their lives is a priority for President Obama and for the US Government. As President Obama has said, “I’d like to find new ways to connect young Americans to young people all around the world, by supporting opportunities to learn new languages… for when people come together and speak to one another and share a common experience, then their common humanity is revealed.”  Teaching English is one way we can help these young people to improve their lives.  English has become the world’s language for commerce, trade, and scientific research, so learning English can open many doors and expand job opportunities for young people.  President Obama also recognized that as people learn another language, it facilitates communication and helps people find ways to work together and to solve common problems. Here in the Dominican Republic, I firmly believe that strengthening people-to-people ties helps us in our work with our Dominican partners to address our common concerns, such as promoting citizen safety, economic growth and job creation, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

Reflecting President Obama’s commitment to improving people-to-people ties and promoting mutual prosperity, in March 2011, President Obama launched “100,000 Strong in the Americas,” a program designed to  foster region-wide prosperity by encouraging 100,000 students from Latin America to study each year in the United States and 100,000 students from the U.S. to study in Latin American countries.  Embassy funding for the Fulbright program and other educational exchanges underscores our renewed commitment to the 100,000 Strong initiative. The Binational Centers- the Dominico Americanos- also have done outstanding work building cultural bridges by teaching English to over 15,000 young Dominicans every year.  That is an amazing feat! Congratulations to all of you!

In closing, on behalf of President Obama, I want thank the Instituto Cultural Dominico Americano for arranging this event.  And I want to thank all of you wonderful English teachers here with us today, and to congratulate all of you for your outstanding efforts to teach English to people of all ages in the Dominican Republic.  Thank you!