Phase III ELTO – We have lift off!

Intake 29 ELTO Graduation in Victoria University Council Chambers
Intake 29 ELTO Graduation in Victoria University Council Chambers

As intake 29 pack their bags and prepare to return home after a successful course completed, Dr MALCOLM MENZIES, Divisional manager of Accent Learning, reflects on this intake and its significance at the beginning of a new phase for ELTO.

After an eighteen-month break while the programme was reviewed, ELTO entered Phase III in July 2009. It was important that we got off to a good start on our new five-year contract and that we managed to recapture the old ELTO spirit. On both counts, Intake 29 has been a great success. Many members of the core staff returned to ensure continuity (with a dash of new blood to keep us on our toes) and a relatively young group of participants has embraced the programme with great enthusiasm.
There were a few changes in the new ELTO model, and these have worked out very well. In Phase III, Part One in the regions has been shortened slightly, and an additional week of workplace language experience has been introduced into both Part One and Part Two. By all accounts the workplace component has been particularly valuable, with programme participants engaging in deep and meaningful conversation with a wide range of counterparts in New Zealand local authorities, ministries, businesses and other agencies.
From my point of view, the last six months have been exciting for another reason. For the past 12 years, Victoria Link Ltd has been the name associated with management of ELTO. But we have now created a new division of Victoria Link, and ELTO has become part of a family of programmes within Accent Learning. Accent’s website was launched at the end of November 2009 and already it is proving to be a great platform for supporting learning. The website will also provide a means of building and maintaining an ELTO alumni group, so that we can maintain contact with each other once participants return home.
In thinking about what to write for the website, I looked back at the newsletter prepared by then-coordinator Philip Carew for the end of Intake 28. The sentiments expressed there still hold true, and it is worth repeating them. 
Returning ELTOs participants will be taking increased English Language skills back home to help their countries to achieve sustainable economic development. Hopefully the learning they have experienced in New Zealand will bring benefits for many years to come. While some of these benefits will be personal – ELTO alumni tend to do well in their careers – it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that the programme is part of an overall development assistance agenda. There is an ongoing debate about the extent to which tertiary level education contributes to development goals in comparison to other more direct approaches. I believe that ELTO does make a worthwhile contribution to good regional, national and provincial governance, which in turn leads to better outcomes “at the grass roots”.
The ELTO participants sacrifice much to come to New Zealand. They work hard and learn well (while hopefully also having a good time!). Tribute must also be paid to Hilary Watson who picked up the job of coordinator very shortly before Phase III started and did it brilliantly, and to the talented, professional teachers and other supporters you will find on these pages. Thanks to you all, and best wishes for the future.