Balance del curso 2015 – 2016


Este curso escolar empezó en agosto impartiendo un curso de formaciónen e-learning para mis colegas de la UNECA/CEPA. En él aprendimos la filosofía de no ir a la Red exclusivamente para navegar y pescar, también para compartir y reflexionar sobre lo que aprendemos y enseñamos. Los profesores se familiarizaron con la plataforma Edmodo y abrimos nuestro blog Terateam y nuestras cuentas en las redes sociales Twitter y Facebook.

No voy a repetir lo mismo del año pasado, pero lo cierto es que es un privilegio estar enseñando en la CEPA y al mismo tiempo aprendiendo en un ambiente multicultural con alumnos motivados y que tienen tantas habilidades y estrategias para aprender lenguas y con los que, además, comparto muchas cosas personalmente.

En el segundo trimestre, por primera vez en Etiopía, he asumido el reto de enseñar a un alumno monolingüe (amariña) y alfabetizado en un sistema de escritura…

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Sant Jordi and the World Book Day

The World Book Day or World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days) on April 23rd was proclaimed in 1995 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing and copyright.  The idea for celebrating this day originated in Spain where on 23 April is St George’s Day (Sant Jordi or Khdus Giyorgis), the patron saint of Catalonia, Ethiopia, England, Georgia, Greece and many other places.

We don’t know much about the historical figure. He was a Roman soldier around 300 AD and a Christian martyr who would not be questioned about his beliefs. He is also regarded as a protector of the harvest and as protector of lovers.

The best known and most popular legend describes how he defeated a dragon in the infinite country Silene. This dragon poisoned the air of a village. And to appease him, the people always sacrificed a lamb and a virgin who was chosen. One day the princess of the country met this fate; George killed the dragon and freed her. The Princess and the entire population were converted to Christianity. Since the 13th century the most widely used figure of Sant Jordi is the scene where he kills the dragon with a lance while riding a white horse.

2016-04-23 15.32.57
St. George Beer, Ethiopia

Towards the end of the 1920s, Vicente Clavel, a Valencian resident of Barcelona, realising that Sant Jordi’s death day coincided with those of Cervantes and Shakespeare, decided to encourage people to give books as well as roses to their loved ones. Since then, Sant Jordi’s day has been revered as the dia dels enamorats or lovers’ day in Catalonia, as Saint Valentine or Timkat in Ethiopia.


Today is the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Alcalá de Henares, 29 September 1547 – Madrid, 22 April 1616) and William Shakespeare (Stratford-upon-Avon, c. 26 April 1564 [July] – 23 April [July]/ 3 May 1616 [Greg.]), that’s why the Instituto Cervantes and the British Council are organising many events to examine the impact these two writers had on universal literature. Their texts have been adapted and analysed countless times and their influence has been so great that they are essential figures in Spanish and English culture.

Last year we did in the Spanish language class at ECA some activities like watching videos and reading texts on Sant Jordi’s celebration in Barcelona and the students wrote a composition on their favorite books.

Many lists of recommended books (books people love, books people would like to read, best books of 2016, best books about…, etc.) are published today in journals, blogs and Twitter accounts (#BookDay #DiaDelLibro #SantJordi). Many teachers of Spanish as a Foreign Language will also meet today in Twitter () to talk about the development of the reader competence in our classes.

Feliç Sant Jordi/ Happy World Book Day!





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El Día de la Mujer en la clase de ELE en la UNECA


Hoy hemos celebrado en la CEPA/ECA el Día Internacional de la Mujer. En la clase de ELE no había muchos estudiantes porque más de uno ha optado por celebrarlo con colegas y amigas en una comida que ha tenido lugar en la misma sede de la UNECA.

En clase hemos hecho una actividad de expresión escrita (15 – 20 minutos) en la que los estudiantes han descrito a una mujer que admiran de su país.

Día Internacional de la MujerDía Internacional de la Mujer, ECA

Este es el resultado:

La Embajadora Konjit SineGiorgis de Etiopía, que tuvo una larga carrera en el servicio diplomático etíope y en la Unión Africana.

Marjorie ‘Nola’ Beabrun, fundadora y cantante del grupo haitiano Boukman Eksperyans.

La enfermera Zebider Zewdie, fundadora de la ONG etíope Mary Joy Development Association (MJDA).

La actriz británica Judi Dench.

La francesaPeggy Pascal, que ha desarrollado los “huertos en un saco” en Kenia y otros países.

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International Mother Language Day at UNECA

International Mother Language Day (21 February) was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

The theme of Mother Language Day 2016 is, “Quality education, language(s) of instruction and learning outcomes”. This underlines the importance of mother languages for quality education and linguistic diversity, to take forward the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We have celebrated this event at UNECA with the students saying their favorite words in their mother tongues to show our linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Here the video we recorded:

Edited by @rosernoguera

“Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue”.




La fête de Timkat, qui correspond à l’Epiphanie, a généralement lieu aux alentours du 19 janvier. Bien que cette fête religieuse commémorant le baptême du Christ soit célébrée par les Chrétiens du monde entier, elle a une signification particulière en Ethiopie, où elle constitue l’évènement le plus important et le plus pittoresque de l’année. Loin de la foule touristique qui encombre les alentours des villes et des villages d’Ethiopie, se cache une tradition de rencontre romantique entre les jeunes.

Que dirait-on de la Saint-Valentin  éthiopienne?

Tout le monde se fait beau, car c’est une occasion de rencontrer son/sa future marié/e… Il y a même une expression letimketyalhonekemisyebetates

Il y a une vieille tradition: un homme peut lancer un citron vers une femme, lomitalubatbedretwa et si celle-ci ramasse le citron par terre, elle lui signifie qu’elle est intéressée… et la flamme de l’amour commence et cela donnera lieu à une fête potentiellement romantique puisqu’ elle s’enchaine avec les cérémonies de mariage.

J’ai intitulé mon article Ventilomi pour monter que la Saint Valentin existe aussi chez nous.

Une fête à vivre et à revivre !!


Like it or not!

The only thing that is consistent in language is change. Every language changes, evolves and adapts to the needs of its users. Imagine how we would be in trouble to describe some concepts, particularly in relation to technology use, if English hadn’t changed over centuries. However, the change is so slow that from year to year we hardly notice it; yet, we all know that reading the earlier versions of the bible, or any other classical literature of earlier times for that matter, is difficult.

If you asked someone twenty years ago whether they had ‘googled the person they had just friended on facebook’, they would simply stare at you blankly (even spell-check still gives them red lines of disapproval). New experiences, new discoveries, new knowledge, new technologies, new products, etc. they all require new conceptual representations and hence new words to refer to them clearly and efficiently.

Noticeably enough, many of the changes that occur in language begin with teens and young adults. As young people interact with others of their own age, their language grows to include words, and constructions that are different from those of the older generation. Moms and dads, teachers, coaches, anyone who encounters teens or young adults on a regular basis, knows the challenge of deciphering what they mean when they use some words we haven’t ever heard in English. It’s called Teenglish (teenager + English) – slang used by teenagers.

Most teenglish are seen on social media sites, text messages and popular song lyrics. But some of them are gaining mainstream recognition and being added to recent editions of the Meriam-Webster Dictionary. Typical examples are “sexting” – sending and receiving sexually explicit messages, and the Oprah-inspired “aha moment” which signifies a moment of sudden realization.

How many of these teenglish do you know? How about these informal abbreviations?               

Teenglish Meanings Abbreviation Meanings
Big up To praise or congratulate BTW By the way
Bungalowed Completely drunk OMG Oh, My God
Fudge Complete idiot B4 Before
Rents Parents AFAIK As far as I know
Skankaroo Disgusting BFN Bye for now
Soz Sorry BRB I’ll be right back
Wagwan What’s going on? FYI For your information
Woop woop Noise made to denote happiness. IMO In my opinion
Hangry Hungry and angry TTYL Talk to you later


Spanish Language at UNECA in Ethiopia

This post is dedicated to the Spanish language students at UNECA, I would like to answer some of their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Gracias for your interest in learning Spanish🙂

Is Spanish the same in Latin America and Spain?

Frequently students ask me about the differences between the Spanish spoken in Spain and the Spanish of Latin America. Of course, there are distinctions between the varieties of Spanish, but we can all understand each other, whether in Valencia, Montevideo or Bogotá. There are also differences between the types of Spanish spoken in different parts of Latin America and in different parts of Spain.

What is the name of the language?

In South America, it is normal to call it castellano (Castilian, after the Castile region in Spain where the language was born) as opposed to español (Spanish). In Central America, it is usually called español. In parts of Spain, where there are other official languages, it is known as castellano, but in others parts of Spain where only Spanish is spoken it is commonly called español. So, both terms are correct and you are studing español or castellano.

Why study Spanish?

  • To make new friends at home or abroad (400 million people speak Spanish as a native language, there are an estimated 470 million Spanish speakers with native competence and 560 million Spanish speakers as a first or second language). Imagine how many amigos you can make!
  • To travel more confidently and discover the cultural riches of the Spanish-speaking world. Keep in mind Spanish lives together with other languages and cultures: Catalonian, Basque, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani, Nahuatl, Portuguese, etc.
  • To expand your business, to get a promotion or to change your career. Spanish is the official language in 21 nation states and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is used as an official language by the European Union, the African Union, the Organization of American States, and the Union of South American Nations, among other international organizations.
  • It will help you to learn other Roman languages like Portuguese, French, Italian and many others.

What is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR)?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (abbreviated as CEFR or CEF) is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe and, increasingly, in other countries. It was put together by the Council of Europe as the main part of the project “Language Learning for European Citizenship” between 1989 and 1996. Its main aim is to provide a method of learning, teaching and assessing all languages in Europe.

What is the Instituto Cervantes?

Instituto Cervantes is a non-profit organization created by the Spanish government in 1991. Its mission is to promote the Spanish language and to contribute to the advancement of the cultures of all Spanish speaking countries and communities. Sadly, we don’t have a branch in Ethiopia but there are many centres around the world, the closest in Cairo.

Instituto Cervantes Facebook:

Instituto Cervantes Twitter:

What is the DELE?

The DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera), granted by Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education, is an official and international acreditation of a person’s degree of proficiency in Spanish. The diplomas can be obtained by sitting an examination that tests the candidates’ ability to read, write, speak and understand Spanish, according to internationally standardized levels of competence established by the Council of Europe in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). There are 8 exams or levels: A1 “Breakthrough” & A1 for students (beginners proficiency), A2 “Waystage” (advanced beginners proficiency), A2/B1 for studentsB1 “Threshold” (intermediate proficiency), B2 “Vantage” (advanced proficiency), C1 “Effective Operational Proficiency” (highly advanced proficiency) and C2 “Mastery” (nearly native proficiency). Here are some samples of DELE exams. For the moment it is not possible to hold DELE exams in Ethiopia. You can check other examination centres in their web. UN LPE is DELE equivalent to B2-C1 (CEFR).

What is the AVE?

The Instituto Cervantes’ AVE (Aula Virtual de Español) is an Internet-based educational infrastructure set up to provide Spanish courses. The AVE materials and courses can be used as supplementary content for your face to face Spanish classes at UNECA. AVE is organized into the same levels as the language courses (Beginner A1, A2; Intermediate B1; Advanced B2 and Proficiency C1). Each course takes approximately 30 hours of work to be completed. You can take a placement test online. Get information about prices and more, here.

What is the ELP?

The European Language Portfolio (ELP) provides information about your language proficiency and intercultural experiences. More info here.

How can I further improve my Spanish at UNECA?

Language learning requires commitment and motivation. The suggested minimum attendance is 75% of the total number of class sessions. If you can’t attend a class due to meetings or field work/mission, inform your teacher and ask your classmates what they were doing in class during your absence. You should log into Edmodo regularly or activate the notifications to check publications. You can write some compositions if you are missing more than a class, for example describing the place where you have been (level 1), describing someone you met (level 1), telling about what you have done (level 1 Adv.) or what you did last week (level 2), etc. (ask your teacher for more ideas).

You can register to our textbook’s Gente publishing house web and get aditional materials for free.

Join our “15 minutes coffee conversation program” to practice with UN colleagues (ask your teacher about it).

There are many social networks to learn/interchange languages and meet people around the world: Lingua.LyMy Language ExchangeItalkiLiveMochaSharedTalkDuolingo, Memrise, Busuu, Babbel, etc.

Why not to read a newspaper or a magazine, listen to a song or radio broadcast, doing some online exercises in the language you are studying? Here you have some useful resources for Spanish students:

Published by UN: PDF

“15 Places to Learn Spanish for Free” and, if you are not tired, “60 (More) Insanely Useful Resources To Get You Learning, Reading, Writing and Speaking Spanish Right Now“.

Newspapers, magazines, art & culture: Agencia Efe, BBC in Spanish, and many newspapers and, television channels and radios categorized by country.

If you are ECA staff, the UNECA library is subscribed to more than 300 reading materials in Spanish. Check them in

Virtual libraries: Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, Biblioteca Virtual Universal, Biblioteca Digital Mundial, and many others here and here.

You can download many books or buy them from virtual bookshops.

Some online exercises (vocabulary, songs, grammar, readings, etc.):

UN news in Spanish

Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe:
Noticias sobre los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio:
Departamento de Información Pública de Naciones Unidas:
Multimedia de las Naciones Unidas: (UN in photos, radio, video, reports)
UNDP TV channel:
Radio ONU:

Online dictionaries

Real Academia Española de la Lengua. It’s the official institution responsible for overseeing the Spanish language. It is based in Madrid, Spain, but is affiliated with national language academies in twenty-one other Spanish-speaking countries through the Association of Spanish Language Academies: Bilingual (French, English, Portuguese) and synonyms.

Diccionarios de Spanish Language Dictionary, synonyms-antonyms, biligual (French, English), medical term dictionary.  (online dictionaries compilation). 

Follow us in Twitter: @terateamECA and suscribe to terateam, our blog on language learning news

Africa continental

Spanish is here!

This post has been also published in eaTropia blog.


With Getaneh (part 2)

(CONT’D FROM PAGE With Getaneh)

Messeret: We know you love teaching. In fact, you were cut out for a teacher. What do you think are the magics of a successful teacher? Just from your personal experience…

Getaneh: I mentioned earlier that a teacher should not be a ‘chalk and talk’ person only. This is really my credo. When you teach, until you have put those elements you are trying to teach in the mouth of your participants, we are talking about language, so I can say, don’t be just happy with the ears of your students, put that in their mouth and when they go out of your class, they can use it. Some teachers can be happy if their students know how, say, the indefinite article works. If you give them a written test, they can give you the correct answer. But when they go out and need to speak the thing does not come out right…

You have to do simulation exercises in class, creating situations, teach them to ask for information and provide information, etc. This is communicative methodology and it works in real situation, especially in lower levels, as we have here in French and Spanish. You have to give them the courage to talk. When I was a teacher I encouraged my students to hold a diary of the class, so they could write: “Today we started at 8:10… The teacher came in ten minutes late…, We started with this exercise…,”  They wrote about every activity and at the end of the week they came with a summary of what we did or what they learnt. If someone went for a mission, they must come with a diary of what they did in that mission. If they go on leave, they come with pictures and reports to presented to the class. This is the way I could assure they come to the class and they go with something, a take away. They are paying with their time, their energy… they leave their work and come to my class. If they return with an empty bag, it will be a crime…

Once, in 1994, I invited the director of the francophonie to come a to ECA and speak to my class. At the Alliance Ethio-francaise, I invited the late Michel Papatakis, an Ethiopian Filmmaker, to my class and we discussed about cinema, about what was happening (or not happening) in Ethiopia… When I was a primary school teacher in the Lycee Franco-Ethiopien Guebre Mariam, I took my students to the National Museum. The students were thrilled, they were asking questions… This thing, teaching real staff, has to be really in. Learn about practice and not only theory. I believe in that. This is what I call teaching, this is what empowers them: when you leave them they continue moving because you give them the direction.

Messeret: One more question: what do you think are the benefits of learning languages in ECA?

Getaneh: It opens you up to the world. It widens your world – I think you will feel more at home in this planet than you did before. With globalization, with the world getting smaller and smaller, we need to learn other languages in order to be competitive, sustain the opportunities to job openings and so on. This is the functional aspect but for personal, intellectual curiosity, learning a language and speaking it to a native makes them open their heart to you. Thinking that way, comparing thought structures and adapting yourself to a variety of things, reading the literature, watching films, listening songs in that language… imagine how much richer you are!

For ECA, we have six official languages and we have incentives for multilingualism, that differ from the GS category (a small amount of money on payroll) to the Professional category (accelerated salary increment). In addition, it increases the value of your CV… These are the most obvious aspects, but really learning languages makes you big.

Messeret: You have already touched your future plans but could you go into details regarding the creative endeavor you have been undertaking for the last… how many years? Are you planning to do it full time?

Getaneh: I was lucky to publish some of my translations and this has created some good will. I think the train is there and it has started moving. Yes, I am planning to do it on a full time basis. I have 15 manuscripts that are almost ready for publication and I am going to do as much as I can, resources allowing, to get them published. Also if God blesses me with health and energy, I’d like to write my own creative stories. I haven’t started, it is a very different thing from translation and I will have to work hard. It is not a way to earning money and this is not the idea. It is a question of passion and personal satisfaction.

[Works include: ቻርሊና የቸኮሌት ፋብሪካው (Charlie and the chocolate factory by Roald Dahl), Bichegir (a collection of local and translated folk tales for kids), Topaz (a play by Marcel Pagnol staged at the National Theatre), Mamma besemay (Tower in the Sky),…]

Messeret: We had a great time working with you. We will certainly miss you but we will keep in touch and hope to see you around from time to time… What do you think you are going to miss not coming here so often?

Getaneh: Other than this team and the excitement of belongingness, the challenges… Some people who studied the mind divide it into four sections: one of them is about people… People like me love rendering services, helping people. We are happy if someone with a problem comes to you and you cheer them up, help solve their problem and they leave your office laughing. They are grateful and that one is what I will miss. Most of what I have been dealing with is people: clients, services…

Apart from languages, people come for assistance to my office in performance management and related issues, and also for counseling. I am a certified counselor. I think I do my best to help people, to listen to them, discuss their problems… I love it when they go out happier and so grateful.

Let me give you an example which sounds like a story. Once a woman came to my office. She was looking for somebody to talk to, a place to cry and relieve some burden that was crushing her. She told me about her husband who competed for a very high post in Sarajevo. And simply because the other candidates spoke French, they selected them. Her husband does not speak French but was a good manager and she cried. I told her she had more than she needed and other seemingly small things. We talked about her good health, that they could have a better life here without this promotion and so on. There is something in Amharic we say, lebago new. You can give so many examples. When you feel you miss something that you think you deserved, you cry, but later you find out that something better was in reserve for you. This is something people believe in even if you can’t explain it scientifically. A few months later, there was an explosion in Sarajevo. The guy who was promoted to that post was killed.

I had forgotten about that lady but she showed up one day, again crying.  This time she came for a completely different reason. I looked at her in puzzlement. She said, “God saved my husband!”  She came to thank me and the tears rolling down her cheeks were tears of happiness.

Messeret: Are you planning to be a full time counselor then?… You don’t have to answer that one haha… Before we finish off, Azeb would like to ask you a few questions in French. Azeb?…

Azeb: M. Getaneh , Je sais que tu aimes enseigner Ça été une partie de ta vie . Et que tu es aussi doué pour ça quelle est la personne qui t’a inspirée  en tant qu’ enseignant? et pourquoi ?

Getaneh:  Ah! c’est une question très difficile .Parce que, je ne me la suis jamais posée  moi-même.

Il m’est très difficile de te donner une réponse directe. Sauf que je vais te dire quelque chose, depuis ma petite enfance, dans la famille nous avons été élevés de façon très libérée. Quelle que soit nos expériences à l’école, nous venions la nuit raconter à nos parents qui nous écoutaient avec beaucoup de patience et j’ai développé il me semble l’habitude, la culture de parler. C’est vrai que je parle trop. Depuis la petite enfance , et quand j’étais à l’école secondaire, à cause d’un problème familiale, matériel qui  a presque arrêté nos études, je me suis débrouillé pour me réfugier auprès d’un français qui m’a abrité dans sa maison et  qui m’a aussi donné des livres en français facile pour m’aider à améliorer mon français et pendant l’été je partais au village avec ces livres c’était surtout le Roman de renard..Je lisais ces livres,je rassemblais les enfants  mes amis , mes copains du village, je les mettais en face de moi et je leur racontais ces histoires. Ça je crois que  c’était un peu spontané mais ça a développé en quelque sorte la passion et mes expériences de communiquer. Quelle que soit l’idée, il suffit que j’en aie une partie pour que je la transmette telle qu’elle à autrui .Bien que je n’aie pas une compréhension globale totale parfaite de la situation, autant que j’aurais compris, je pouvais la transmettre. Ça, je crois, m’a aidé à me débrouiller en face d’une assemblée, ou d’un groupe, d’un public et en classe. C’est l’envie, la passion de transmettre une idée qui fait qu’en fin… les gens acceptent ma façon de le faire … moi si tu me demandes d’analyser la façon dont je travaille en classe ,je ne pourrai pas la faire je ne le sais même pas.

En tant qu’excellent professeur toi-même, tu comprends… parce que les gens viennent te dire : Ah j’aime la façon dont tu fais ton cours !toi tu ne sais pas quelle est la différence entre ta façon et celle des autres. Je sais que je te déçois avec ma réponse  mais c’est comme ça.

Messeret: This is not the last one. We would like to test his Spanish…Roser, your turn…

Getaneh: I want to hide.

Roser: Espero que pueda retomar las clases de ELE ahora que va a tener más tiempo libre y quizás traducir alguna obra de nuestra literatura al amariña… ¿Qué recuerda de sus clases de español?

Getaneh: Lo que recuerdo es el debut de mi aprendizaje. Empecé mi primer curso, pero mi profesor sugirió dos semanas después que pasara a un curso superior. Yo no quería porque el otro grupo ya  había hecho un curso completo y yo solo dos semanas pero ella insistió, “si no funciona puedes volver”. Entonces acepté, pero me sentía totalmente frustrado. Durante tres o cuatro semanas trabajé como un loco… Cuando tienes un reto, te esfuerzas más…

Messeret: It seems it comes so spontaneous, all the languages he speaks…

Roser: Indeed

Messeret: And now in your mother tongue… You know I envy your Amrahic. Wondwossen, I see that you have been waiting for you turn – here you go…

ወንድወሰንእኔን በጣም የገረመኝ ይህን ሁሉ ቋንቋ መናገር መቻልህ ነው፡፡  እንደዚህ ብዙ ቋንቋ የሚናገሩ በኢትዮጵያ ታሪክ በጣም ጥቂት ሰዎች ናቸው፡፡ ምናልባት   እንትና ይመስሉኛል ዘጠኝ ቋንቋ ወይም ሰባት ቋንቋ ይናገሩ የነበሩ፤ / ብርሃኑ አበበ፣ ሟቹ፡፡ እሳቸው ይመስሉኛል፡፡ እኔን በጣም ነው የገረመኝ፡፡ አሁን ምንድን ነው መጠየቅ የምፈልገው ነገር? በዩኒቨርሲቲ እንደዚህ ዓይነት ሰዎች ብዙ የሉንም፡፡ እንኳንስ ልሳነብዙ የሆኑ ይቅርና ልሳነክልኤ የሆኑ ሰዎች የሉንም፡፡ እና ከድሮ ጊዜ ጀምሮ የማስበው አንድ ነገር ነበረኝ፡፡ አልታገዝኩም እንጂ አሁንም የሥነትርጉም ፕሮግራም የመጀመር ሀሳብ አለኝ፡፡ ስለዚህ አንተ እንደዚህ ዓይነት ሀብት ስላለህ ከዚህ ልምድህ ጋር ብትጋበዝ ወደ አዲስ አበባ ዩኒቨርሲቲ በመምህርነት ለመምጣት ፈቃደኛ ትሆንልናለህ ወይ?

ጌታነህኦውውው! . . . እንዴ! መጠርጠሩስ? እጅግ በጣም እንጂ፡፡ እኔ ባጭሩ ልንገርህ÷ ምን እንደነበረ የመጀመሪያ እቅዴ፡፡ ከተማሪነት ወደ ሠራተኛነት ሳልፍ አስተማሪ እንደምሆን አውቀዋለሁ፤ ምክንያቱም የቀድሞ የበእደማርያም ተማሪ ስለነበርኩ የተመዘገብኩት በትምህርት ፋከልቲ ነው፡፡ ከዚያ በኋላ ስጨርስ መጀመሪያ የምመደበው ትግራይ ነው ብዬ አስብ ነበር፡፡ ከዚያ ነቀምት፣ ቀጥሎም ወላይትኛ የሚነገርበት የሆነ ቦታ፣  ከዚያ ጉራግኛ የሚነገርበት ቦታ፡፡ እነዚህን አራቱን ቋንቋዎች ሁለት ሁለት ዓመት በእነዚያ ቦታዎች እየቆየሁ በጥሩ ሁኔታ ተምሬ እመጣና አዲስ አበባ ዩኒቨርሲቲ የኢትዮጵያ ቋንቋዎች ምናምን የሚባል አልነበረም? እዚያ ውስጥ እገባና መቼም እጄን ስመው ይቀበሉኛል ብዬ አሰብኩ፤ ተማሪ አይደለሁ? ህልመኛ ምናምን ነገር፤ ከዚያ በኋላ የቋንቋዎች ማስተማሪያ አዘጋጃለሁ ብዬ አሰብኩ፡፡ ማለት ኦሮምኛውን ለሌሎቹ ቋንቋዎች ተናጋሪዎች፣  ትግርኛውን ለሌሎቻችን የምናስተምርባቸው ጽሑፎች እዚያ ኮሌጅ በፈረንሳይኛ በሰለጠንኩበት አሠራር መሠረት እያዘጋጀሁ አራቱንም ትላልቅ ቋንቋዎች የሚናገሩ ኢትዮጵያውያን እንዲበዙ የማደርግባቸውን ማስተማሪያዎች ለማሳተም አልም ነበር፡፡ እንደገና ደግሞ መዝገበቃላቶች በሦስት ቋንቋዎች ወይም በሁለት ቋንቋዎች እንደሁኔታው ማዘጋጀት፣ ማለትም ለምሳሌ ከኦሮምኛ ወደ አማርኛ ወይም ከአማርኛ ወደ ኦሮምኛ፣ ወዘተ.የሚተረጉሙ መዝገበቃላቶችን እያዘጋጀሁ በማቅረብ ለማሳተም ነበረ እቅዴ፤ የልጅነት እቅዴ፣ የሃያ አምስት ዓመት እድሜ እቅዴ፡፡ ግን በነበረው የፖለቲካ ሁኔታ በቤተሰብም አንድ ዓይነት ተጽእኖ ስለተፈጠረ እና ቤተሰቡን በሞላ እኔ መርዳት (በገንዘብ፣ በስንቅ ማለት ነው) ስለነበረብኝ፣ ያንን ለማድረግ ደግሞ ወደእነሱ ቀረብ ማለት ይበልጥ ስለሚመች ያንን ሁሉ እቅዴን ሰርዤ ጎጃም ገባሁ፡፡ ይሄ እንግዲህ አሁን አንተ ያነሳኸው አቶ ወንድወሰን የልጅነት ህልሜ ነው፤ ሳይሳካ፣ እውን ሳይሆን የቀረው የልጅነት ህልሜ ነው፡፡ እና አሁን አንተ እንዲያው ዋጋዬን በጣም አስወድደኸው እንደዚህ አደረግከው እንጂ እንደዚህ ዓይነት አጋጣሚ ቢገኝ እኔ ስለሳንቲም፣ ስለምናምን ማሰብ አልፈልግም፡፡ እንደዚህ ዓይነት አጋጣሚ ቢገኝ በጣም ደስ ይለኛል፡፡ በትርጉም ዘርፍ ባልከው÷ እኔ በቃ እሱን አይደል እንዴ ስሠራ የኖርኩት? ከሃያ ዓመት በላይ ነው የሠራሁት ብቻዬን እየተንፈራፈርኩ ማለት ነው፡፡ እዚያ በምሆንበት ጊዜ ከሞያው ባለቤቶች ከታላላቆቼ ጋር ሆነን በምንሠራበት ጊዜ የትርጉም ጥበቡም፣ የሚተረጎመውም ነገር ደግሞ ፍሬነገር በጣም ተፈላጊ ለሆነ ነገር ወጥቶ ለልጆች ማስተማሪያ፣ ለማኅበረሰቡ የእውቀት ማበልጸጊያ የሚሆነው እየተመረጠ በሚሠራበት ቦታ በጣም ደስ እያለኝ በፍቅር ነው የምሠራው፡፡ እና፥ያው ባንድ አፍ!

ወንድወሰንበጣም ደስ ይላል፡፡

መሠረትበጣም እናመሰግናለን በእውነቱ!

አዜብከሕይወት መጽሐፍህ እንዲህ ስላካፈልከን በጣም እናመሰግናለን!

መሠረትእውነት ነው፡፡

Addis Ababa, 28/10/2015

20151013_162514 - copia
Messeret (left) and Getaneh (right) in his farwell at ECA. Photo by eaTropía

 እውነት ነው, شُكراً, gracias, merci, thank you

With Getaneh

We (Messeret Abeje, Azeb Teklu, Wendwosen Adane and Roser Noguera on behalf of terateam) got together at Lalibela Café enjoying Addis’ gorgeous weather sipping coffee with Mr. Getaneh Anteneh, the Language Program Coordinator at ECA, who recently retired. We have mixed feelings, we are happy for him, he has done a lot of work to develop this language program but at the same time we feel sad because he has left. We are hoping he won’t be away for too long.  

There was a time when the language centre planned to have a web page but it didn’t happen. Now we have Roser, who is organizing and propelling the whole group to learn about blogging and we are just about to start.  The team has agreed to announce the opening of Terateam blog by featuring Getaneh as the first person because he has done a lot of work to have the program running.  Well, we arranged to talk over coffee (Terateam) and discover his invaluable experiences working as a teacher for different government institutions and for the ECA. Following is our informal interview with Getaneh was conducted in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Amharic.


Messeret: Well, before everything, do you feel like you have retired?

Getaneh: Yes, and I am happy about that.

Messeret: How does it feel to retire after 21 years at ECA?

Getaneh: I am trying to find out how it feels to be retired, I will soon find out. But before I start to say anything I would like to congratulate you all, particularly Roser, on this brilliant initiative of reviving, recreating, moving at least, revamping the idea of the web page. We tried twice and I remember the last one more vividly. We were almost there, the structure was put in place but when our supervisor heard about it. She said, “Wait and we will have a page not only for language training but a bigger one for the Training Unit and language will be part of it.”  We thought it was a good idea and we developed the structure to include other training issues but then, when we asked them to give us the material to populate that web page with, they were not ready and we were stuck.

My advice for you now is to continue with what you are doing because maybe when they see what you are doing, they might join you and you can expand and have a bigger blog or site for the Learning and Organizational Development Unit.

Roser: We would like you to participate… In fact, we consider you part of terateam.

Getaneh: Of course, I will be glad to do that. This is about sharing, about visibility for our Language and Communication Skills Training Centre and, globally, for ECA. Many people don’t even know about the existence of ECA in Addis.

Roser: Tell us about your feelings…

Getaneh: I cannot tell you how mixed they are… Even though I am no longer an official member of the program, I am still here and I will always be interested in what you are doing and if there is anything that I can do to contribute. I will be there to provide my assistance and input.

Talking of my feelings, I am now trying to discover what freedom means… I think I can manage it because I’ve already traced a career path for myself. It is not going to be a very lucrative one, but it will keep me busy and also it will give me a lot of mental satisfaction. I will be doing something I’ve always wanted to do and for which I never had enough time. I will continue doing translation work and I will also start now, as far as my imagination can allow, to write my own creative stories and get them published thereby sharing whatever I have been able to gather during my extremely modest life, both private and professional.

Messeret: Tell us about your career…

Getaneh: I started as a teacher of my own mother tongue in a secondary school in Gojam, Bahar Dar. I did that for four years and I am glad to say that I almost revolutionized the way Amharic language was being taught in the secondary school. Many students started being interested in studying Amharic because I could show them the sociolinguistic aspect of teaching Amharic which helped them to increase their own knowledge and also earn good result in ESLCE ( Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Examination).

Then, somebody who believed I was a good teacher felt that I could also make a good secondary school director, which is the wrong thing to think, and they proposed  to appoint me as a secondary school director. I worked for almost four years in two secondary schools. That was a very nice but also humbling experience for me. I learnt a lot of things and I think I assisted also in the way education was being delivered in those high schools. I tried to put in teachers’ minds the most important features of becoming a teacher and going to school, standing in front of 60 – 70 students, and doing chalk and talk, talk, talk. I thought that teaching does not stop there and I encouraged teachers to take teaching- learning process outside the classroom in order for the students to be able to grasp what is to be delivered as education or learning.

Unfortunately, for some political reasons, I could not continue with that career. I had to resign and come to the Lycée Guebre-Mariam to become a primary school teacher which was also a very difficult and interesting experience because the education system is completely different from the Ethiopian system through which I came. Well, I had to learn the system and then use it to educate our kids. It was a heavy and huge responsibility because in this self-contained type of teaching, when you have 25 -30 students with you for the entire year, if you are a good teacher you could make them, if you are a bad one you could destroy the whole group. I see many of my students, one of them was Azeb here, who have made it in their professional and also in their life career to high levels. That means, I did not fail!

But then again because of administrative disagreements with the Proviseur of the Lycee at that time, I had to leave and go to teach French as a foreign language to adults at the Alliance Ethio-Française. That was a simpler and more successful career time for me. Then I went to ILCA (what is now called ILRI) and started assisting translators with terminology. That was also a big school for me because I learnt so many things. I worked there for 5 years and a half, that is, until the contract was cancelled. I then got back to Alliance Ethio-Française where I found a job as coordinator of the language section. I was the second person in charge of the language training where we used to train language teachers and do the timetables, and programs… I used to teach also. That lasted only one year because I got the opportunity to do the same job in ECA.

I started here as a coordinator of only the French language program. At that time there were 3 language programs: English, Arabic and French. There were four teachers for French, I was the fifth one and my responsibility as a coordinator was to do the timetable for the five of us and run the program till the end of a term and begin another term and so on. Doing the LPE (Language Proficiency Examination), budgeting, salaries,… was not my responsibility. I had a lot of free time. I was not working on Fridays, I had the December and summers breaks, etc. That lasted only for a few years, until one section chief came and wondered why the Language Training Center was managed by three people. She chose me to manage the whole program.

Messeret: The number of languages taught here has increased since your appointment, hasn’t it?

Getaneh: Yes, I saw there was a considerable number of staff members willing to learn Spanish and we agreed to start the Spanish language program, I think in 2007, and 3 years ago we started Amharic.

I am glad to say that this is the best language center in Addis Ababa. People who come here and who cannot say a simple sentence in English can start talking in just three months. I am proud of what you are doing and I am proud of my team. This is also the only self managed team in the Commission and if I ask you please come together and do the timetable for the whole program, share the job and do it, I know 100 % you will do it without any complaints. My only way to recognize your good performance (after evaluation) is, when there is one class floating, giving it to the best teacher as an extra class.

You are all professionals and people with high integrity. You go to the extent of deciding to close classes if there aren’t enough students. This is a team you can sit with and discuss, communicate. It makes me happy. I hope you continue keeping your professionalism, integrity and come to do your job, be happy about it and respect each other as you have always done. When you have an idea, like this blog, share it with others. Some people try to keep their ideas for themselves and they think they are superiors, but this is wrong because the more you share with people, the bigger you become. The only way we can grow is by sharing and working together.

Messeret: Thank you for the kind words and the advice. We know your roles as coordinator but we want people to hear it from you. What do you think are your great achievements – major contributions – as a language coordinator? You were instrumental in increasing the number of languages taught at the ECA, you also built a great relation between you as a coordinator and us as teachers. You gave us freedom and responsibility at the same time. We acted, I believe, responsibly, because you trusted us and we did everything to live up to your expectations. So there is your touch in that ‘self-managed’ team spirit.

Getaneh: I’ve never been proud of my own management skills. They tend towards the laissez faire style because I believe that each individual should do their part, they should assume responsibility once they are told in a very clear way what their responsibility is. If everybody did their part, the whole team has done its part. This is what I believe. It has its dangers because the way I trusted you, it was a very commendable step but it could have gone wrong. So I will say that if it worked it was because I was very lucky. What I think I did right was the way you guys were selected: it was competitive for each and every one of you and, of course, you were the best and that’s why you were selected.

The next thing for me was to confide, to trust you and leave you with the job and your conscience. Once you have found a team with this kind of professionalism, integrity, respect for diversity which are the three core values of the UN, whoever comes to join this team is likely to follow the stream. The exact opposite can be true also. If you are a very correct person and join a corrupt team you are likely to shade your good values and behave like everybody else, but this team is a monument.

There are stages of forming a team, what they call forming, storming, norming and performing; maybe I had in the past some storms. I don’t want to talk about this now, but then the bigger picture was normal, so those storms settled into some norms and then we started performing. This is a performing team and that is because we knew each other, we understood each other and I enjoyed personally every body’s respect. When I was not paying you on time, you guys understood me when there was nothing to understand, when I was not providing you proper supplies, equipment, space, you understood…

Another achievement was my appointment from coordinating just French language to coordinating the three languages, which tripled the amount of work, but then I continued to listen to staff requirements and needs. There was interest in Spanish – they wanted to learn it – and I said ‘why not?’ and put another load on myself but it was a great satisfaction. Later expatriate staff wanted to learn Amharic and asked me to start a program. I felt the need and I had to push and convince management. This is not an official UN language, but I did all I could in my negotiation skills to persuade management that spending money in Amharic was also a useful project.

Now I am very happy. I am not quite happy with my participation in the language training program because I would have liked to sit with you, conduct frequent academic meetings and try to figure out on what will be the best manuals, the best resources, the best way of improving our service but I’ve not been able to do this. Rather it came from you guys… For instance it was Messeret who proposed that New Headway was a better manual, and Beletou or you, Azeb, wanted to change the French manual to Campus and later to Alter Ego…. Messeret did a great job when he proposed courses on critical reading, communicative grammar,…

This should have come from the Coordination office but it was functioning the other way round and you have time with your own students and you feel their need, their shortcomings, and you come across an idea of how we could actually fill their skills gaps. They need to read more critically, and Messeret developed a 32 hours’ course which is now one of the most successful courses. This, if you call it achievement, I can say I have tried to be open.

The other thing I’ve always done is to respect teachers’ judgment on evaluating their students and deciding whether they pass to the next level or not. That is how I gained your respect.

Messeret: You haven’t mentioned how much you tolerated us. You are simply modest.  I must say that this is the quality of a great mind. Well, thank you again for the appreciative words. With regard to our efforts, you have always entertained our ideas.  You have given us the freedom to propose, helped us work out the details and pushed management to approve the courses… Can you tell us some of your challenging experiences while working here?

Getaneh: I told you before I was a very lucky guy. There could have been lots of challenges, given my literal absence from the centre. Sometimes we couldn’t meet even once a term. But if we are talking about the Commission’s challenges, one that I am going to put in my handover notes to my supervisor is classroom space, excepting French. I am terribly sorry that you have to work under such circumstances. Another challenge was the review of your salary. We haven’t succeeded in this regard.

(to be continued)