Friday, 29 January 2010

ESP Consultancy, Cyprus

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Nicosia in northern Cyprus, where I've just finished a week's consultancy on ESP course design. It's been a fantastic experience, and hopefully useful for the teachers I've been working with. ESP course design is usually a solitary job that I do by myself on the computer. Even my editing work is almost all done via email, so it's been amazing to actually manage a team creating a course out of nothing. 

On Monday, we worked through a very impressive needs analysis that one of the participants, Serif, had done with the potential students - middle managers from two ministries. In case any of you are unfamiliar with the situation in northern Cyprus, the taxi driver put it well when I arrived: "It's complicated". The island has been divided into a Greek-speaking south and a Turkish-speaking north since 1974, as has the capital city, Nicosia. The northern part of the island has been very isolated from the outside world, and the border has only been open for a couple of years, after the two sides came fairly close to reaching an agreement on reunification.

The reason I'm talking about this is not to get involved in the political rights and wrongs of the situation - it's far too complicated for me to have an opinion. But what's interesting is that the two sides mainly have to use English to communicate with each other - Greek/Turkish bilingualism is much less common than it was before the split. So in order to negotiate and make progress on settling this issue, the governments have to speak to each other. In English. And the Turkish-speaking side is taught English by the teachers I've been working with this week. Which is why those teachers need to know how to write ESP courses.

So although my work this week is insignificant on the grand scale of things, it's nice to think it's at least making a tiny contribution to getting people talking to each other.

Or am I getting carried away?

Anyway, over the course of the week, we got an incredible amount of work done - it was like being the manager of an ESP factory. There was a real sense of energy and teamwork. The courses are still a long way from being finished - even an ESP factory can't work that fast, but it was still enormously satisfying.

So I'm feeling tired but happy. The people I've met here have been incredibly kind and enthusiastic.

Now I've got to go back to the Polish winter tonight. I took this photo on my phone in the taxi on the way to Warsaw airport on Sunday night, to prove that the temperature really was minus 18. (It actually got even colder while I was away).

And here's a photo I took a couple of days later in Nicosia. 21 degrees in January. Lovely. Ah, it's hard work being a consultant!

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