Over the last few years of delivering SEF initiated programs, we noticed one of the biggest challenges faced by undergraduate students was their ability to speak in English. While their reading and writing skills were very good, their level of spoken English was not on par. These were due to a number of reasons including inadequate resources to practice spoken English in a safe environment and focus on mastering academic English using rigid patterns not transferrable when speaking
In response to this, UpSpeak was introduced by SEF during June 2021. This is a free 12 week program aimed at creating a non-competitive safe environment for undergraduates in Sri Lanka whose second language is English and are looking to develop the following skills as published by Cambridge Papers in ELT:
Growing up in a rural village, I was rarely exposed to English. It was extremely difficult for me to string together a few English words. There were numerous occasions when I struggled because of that. I still remember answering the questions in the WSO2 scholarship interview in English, so I asked if I could answer in Sinhala instead. Even though I could understand what was being said, it was very difficult to speak. It was extremely difficult for me to complete my studies on campus because everything was in English. I wrote down and memorized everything I wanted to say. After a while, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the upspeak beta program with Minuri Adasooriya. Then I got used to talking, and my fears faded away. Today, I am able to communicate in English very fluently. It provided numerous opportunities for me. I was able to complete my education very successfully and graduated with first-class honours. I've also had the opportunity to lead organizations such as SEF. Moreover, I was also able to collaborate with a number of international companies, including OpenMRS and Google. It's what I like to call a turning point in my life.