Ambassador Gilmour Remarks at Regional final of English Clubs Competition

FEBRUARY 13, 2019 @ 2 PM


Madame the Vice President of the University
Monsieur the Regional Director of Education for Lome Golfe
Monsieur the President of TETO
Honored teachers and inspectors of English
Dear Parents

First of all, I would like to thank the authorities for their presence, which testifies to the importance that they give to English education. I also want to express my gratitude to the organizers of the event, especially the President and the board of TETO. Finally I want to thank all of you, the coaches and students who have worked very hard and practiced for many hours to be able to compete in today’s regional final. I assure you that, whether you win or lose today, the truth is that you are all winners because you have improved your English skills.

Why is it so important to learn English? There are 6,500 langauges spoken in the world today, so what makes English so special?  The answer is that English is the lingua franca of the 21st century. A lingua franca is a language used to make communication possible between people who do not share a native language.

This is the vital role that English plays in our globalized, interconnected world. English has become the language of science, the language of the internet, and the language of international business and diplomacy.

So, for a small country like Togo that must depend on trade and connections with other countries to create prosperity – including neighbors in the region like Nigeria and Ghana, but also partners across the ocean like the U.S., India, and China – English is a necessity.

English is the key that will enable Togo to unlock its potential and become an important regional transportation, shipping and logistics hub with global connections. That economic potential could raise the living standard for Togo’s seven million inhabitants and establish the country as a rising star in Africa. But in order for that to happen more Togolese must speak English.

That is why the U.S. Embassy has always supported the promotion of English in Togo.  One of our biggest initiatives so far is the nationwide English Clubs Competition. In partnership with TETO, in 2016 we launched this competition as a way to give new momentum and excitement to the study of English in Togo. Since then, the competition has gotten bigger and better each year. This year, over 10,000 Togolese students will participate in English Clubs activities.  Not only that, but the English Teachers Association of Benin is sending a delegation of teachers and students to observe the English Clubs Competition, so that they can replicate the model back in Benin. So, it’s a very big accomplishment and you should all be extremely proud.

Now, I know we are all anxious to begin the competition, so I will stop myself here and end with a final word of encouragement to all the students here. I know that learning English isn’t easy and you may get frustrated at times, but I urge you to stay motivated, keep trying your best, and don’t give up. Take every opportunity to practice speaking in English. If you do, I can say with certainty that your knowledge of English will create a brighter future for you, your community, and for the whole country.

Good luck to all the students competing today. No matter who wins, I think you all should be extremely proud of your efforts. Congratulations, keep up the good work, and have a great competition!!!

Thank you very much and good luck!