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Global SKILLs

Global  = working internationally

SKILLs = Strategies and Kits for Integrated Lifelong Learning


We believe what Global SKILLs has to offer is unique and powerful. 
We are confident we can help meet your needs.

We look forward to connecting with you and exploring how we can best serve you!

Elizabeth (Betsy) Barbour

is the Founder and Director of Global SKILLs

and will be working with you directly.

A Note From Betsy:

“How many languages do you speak?” is usually the first question people ask when they learn that I am trained as a linguist, that I have a life-long passion for language and culture learning, that I have lived and worked  since 1980 in Africa,  that my first career included 30+ years of experience with an international language development organization, and  that I continue  now through my business Global SKILLs to consult and train clients in the US and globally.

Well, I do enjoy using a few languages regularly.  But my passion and my work are not for ‘teaching’ people to learn any particular language.

Instead, I help people learn how to be successful learners for language learning – or any other learning goal.  This includes

  • knowing yourself as a Learner,

  • personal needs analysis and goal setting,

  • program planning and management,

  • mastering  strategies and techniques, and

  • being engaged participants in diverse communities

So, teaching people how to efficiently and effectively learn their target language fits into my broader focus of motivating, supporting, and empowering lifelong learners-people who are constantly learning and growing in their personal and professional lives.


PS   To answer the initial question, I “speak” English, French, and Jola (one of 27 languages spoken in Senegal, West Africa) but more importantly…

Through Global SKILLs, I offer strategies, tools, and resources to help my clients master  whatever skills they need to communicate and work effectively in ANY culture and in ANY context.


  • 1973 – 1978: undergraduate work at Middlebury College in linguistics (the study of language systems, specializing in field-based language development) and languages including French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Greek

  • 1979 – 1983: preparing for and beginning fieldwork in West Africa while earning my MA in African Languages (extended stays in Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroun)

  • 1984 – 1996: based in Senegal, West Africa, working primarily on language-development for the Jola people, whose language had no written form; home-schooling my two sons.

  • 1997 – 2004: still based in Senegal, doing administrative work and distance coaching with language development projects in four countries; coordinating curriculum development for a home-schooling co-op and continuing to home-school my two sons, who were by then preparing for college.

  • 2004-2008: transitioned to being based in the U.S. while still working for the most part in Africa; and beginning work in the US on local, regional and national projects in the public and private sectors

  • 2009 – 2014: launched Global SKILLs and spent first 5 years consulting with and training nationals and expats on site and through distance coaching in West and North Africa; exploring needs and existing programs and resources n the US while building networks and (having lived most of my adult life overseas) learning how to function in American cultures! 

  • 2015 – present: developing Global SKILLs partner hubs and projects in the US and globally through collaborations with academic and business partners

About Us: About

(The afternoon consulting session) was the most helpful thing for me in addition to the individual consulting time with (our local language assistant).

Your support and feedback have been so helpful, especially the first year of language. I know you had a very hard job to help guide a new team in the very thing that is the hardest thing! Language! I think you did a great job and I’m thankful that we had your guidance.

I think (this training) was a great way to get us talking and organizing ourselves for progress in language learning.

Language learning is holistic. It is not just sitting down studying my notes and going to class. Doing life in a place with another language is language learning.  I loved using all of the various categories as a guide and trying to find a balance with them (listening, class, immersion, etc.). Very helpful.

Fantastic to watch a demonstration dissect the language in multiple ways and extract meaning immediately.  Fundamental but complex!

The flexibility you gave us to learn in various areas (radio, TV, at the café, in class, etc…) was the best advice and most helpful thing I didn’t expect to learn. You helped me find a strategy of learning language that I never expected to find, but ended up making language learning more fun than I ever imagined!!

Long-term planning for language (6 month plans) was very helpful as it afforded a chance to reflect and see how much was achieved (or not).

Fascinating !  I am not a linguist so everything was new to me.  I feel empowered to go learn another language now, maybe an unusual one!  (I speak Spanish).

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