US, Djiboutian Armies partner to teach English
U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, or CJTF-HOA, have partnered with the Djibouti Armed Forces English Language Center, to assist instructors in teaching English to students.
The 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, Team 12, began working with the center in April 2012 to help further the English knowledge of 17 Djiboutian servicemembers enrolled in the English language course at Camp Chiek Osman in Djibouti City, Djibouti.
"My [American] friends have come here to help us teach English to these students," said Djibouti Army Staff Sgt. Saad Moussa Bouraleh, a school instructor since 2007. "[The students] experience the real pronunciation of the English Language because they have native speakers in their classes. They make conversation with them … so [the students] can understand each other's cultures too. This helps [strengthen] our relationship. We can be friends forever."
According to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Clyde, team sergeant for Team 12 and assistant instructor, the partnership has been a rewarding exchange.
"In return from them hearing native English from a variety of soldiers; we learn the different dialects [of Somali] each Djiboutian Soldier speaks," said Clyde. "During some open discussions we talk about our homes, families and hobbies, as do each of the Djiboutian Soldiers. It's a give and take as far as language exchange." This program is unique to Djiboutian Armed Forces.
"This is the only formal English course for Djiboutian military personnel," said Clyde. "The school is affiliated with [Defense Language Institute, English Language Center] in San Antonio and gets its material from [them]."
The school was created in 1986, with just one laboratory, library, and vision - to teach English to selected servicemembers from the Djibouti Navy, Army, Air Force, Republican Guard and Gendarmerie so they can better communicate with international forces, according to Bouraleh.
Upon arrival, new students must take a test, so instructors can determine placement within the six-level course. These levels range from beginner to advanced. Each of the first five levels includes six books, taking a week to complete. Successful completion of each book requires students to pass a test. Level six includes four books. If a student must progress from level one through six he can complete the course in eight months, according to Clyde.
After twenty-six years the school has produced more than 700 graduates, added an additional classroom, and transformed its laboratory into an audio-visual room. The school staff now includes Bouraleh, Lt. Elmi Hassan Rirache, instructor and headmaster, and Sgt. Ahmed Mohamoud Ahmed, assistant instructor. Each instructor was trained at the Defense Language Institute, before leading their first class.
Although the students are engaged in a very structured curriculum, their learning environment is a healthy one, according to Clyde.
"It's a very laid back, friendly environment," Clyde said. "The students are comfortable around the U.S. Army personnel who go out on a regular basis. We've developed friendships with the instructors and plan to stay in touch once we redeploy."