Dispatch from Macedonia – Teaching the police

Published on 12th November, 2010 in Author Blog by Lindsay Clandfield

Last week I had the good fortune of visiting a part of the world I had heard of but never seen and knew little about: the country of Macedonia. It was my first visit to the country, I had been invited to give a plenary at the national ELTAM conference in the capital Skopje.

The ELTAM conference was a small, intimate affair. There were maybe 100 teachers there, mostly from Macedonia but also from the surrounding region: Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia and Greece were all represented. There were several series of short talks and workshops, and I settling in one morning to learn a little about my Macedonian colleagues’ teaching circumstances.

One talk that caught my eye was about materials design for ESP. As a materials writer myself, it’s always useful to know what other people like, dislike, want or need. And it’s interesting to hear about the different ESP courses that people do.

This talk was from Zorica Trajkova and was about English for policing. What a fascinating subject to teach! I once gave an online course to a group of teachers of military and police officers on webquests so I had a little idea of what kind of material they needed. For those of you who have never taught law enforcement (like me), take a second to think about what needs these students have.

Zorica explained that her students needed English for the following areas:

– crime vocabulary (of course!)
– traffic control
– border checks, passport and other identification checks
– human and drug trafficking
– negotiations
– explaining the law, rights
– describing crime scenes
– anti-terrorism

Zorica only had two books to use to teach these students, each of which were well over thirty years old (including one intriguing-sounding Croatian book from the 70s called English for Policemen, which I could get my hands on that!). Needless to say, these were not very helpful for modern policing so she was forced to make her own materials, which she showed us. They were delightful lesson plans about a rather gruesome murder scene (complete with photos). Another lesson she talked about was to teach conditional sentences (grammar) through the topic of conditional sentencing (in court) which I thought was quite clever.

There are a couple of books now out on the market that deal with English for law enforcement (see here for an example from Macmillan). It seems to be an area that I’ve encountered mainly in Central and Eastern Europe. Perhaps it isn’t that unusual but I find it really interesting and wouldn’t mind having a class of police officers to try on (can’t hurt either to have a few friends on the right side of the law!). What about you? Do any readers have experience with teaching cops? Do you think it’s an interesting area or is it only me?