Using literature in language teaching has been considered a common approach to encourage literacy skills. It includes various genres like prose, poetry folk chants and folktales to engage learners in meaningful and productive ways. Stories, in general, and folktales, in particular, bring a holistic approach to foreign language teaching and learning. Through folktales, learners acquire more than just language knowledge and usage and have opportunities to hear and use language in formal and informal contexts.
On 13 September, 2022 Ms Nasiyba Al Ghafri and Ms Maha Al Darei shared an interesting presentation at UTAS-Ibri, using Omani folktales as a teaching technique that can be used effectively in EFL classrooms. The presenters selected folktales as they were simple, relatable and easy to understand. Another objective of this presentation was to encourage the teachers to preserve Omani literature along with the learning process. This presentation provided audience with the Omani version of the Cinderella story using innovative teaching tips.
Maha Al Darei is an EFL lecturer at UTAS- Ibri. She is Sultan Qaboos University graduate with CELTA. She is a dedicated lecturer offering nine years of comprehensive experience teaching and assisting students with academic needs. She is interested in using multiple types of technology to facilitate and enhance learning.
Nasiyba Al Ghafri is an EFL lecturer at UTAS – Ibri. She holds a bachelor's from Sultan Qaboos University and has three years of experience in teaching English using CELTA.
According to Stephen Krashen, learners with high motivation, self-confidence, a good self-image, and a low level of anxiety are better equipped for success in language acquisition. A game is a good method that can achieve this objective. In this regard, the Students Activities Committee has initiated a Games Club after initiating Arts and Music Clubs on 24/05/2022.
The first games club was led by Ms. Samiya and Ms. Moza on 15/06/2022.
Students welcomed the club with active participation. Many lecturers from the ELC joined the games club with students in different fun competitions. After a grand success in the first games activity, the committee members conducted the second games club on22/06/2022.
Many students participated at different levels with so much enthusiasm. There were many gifts were given to all the attendees for their participation in the various games. The students were motivated and they asked for more activities in the coming academic year.
The English Language Centre scripted history when ELC Research Team won MOHERI Funded URG Research Projectunder Block Funding Program in this academic year 2021-2022.
The ELC Research Team, comprising of Student Researchers across various disciplines and ELC Faculty mentors brought accolades to ELC by winning this Research Project. It is true that this momentousoccasion had indeedturned out to be a matter of pride and joy for ELC as it is for the first time that ELC has won MOHERI Funded Research project in itshistory since its inception.
The ELC management ,under the headship of Dr.Abdulsalam AL Manthari , Head of the Centre, Dr.Maryam Al Ghafri ,HOSand Dr.Sultan Al Ghfari ,HOS has always been an embodiment of constant support and encouragement to ELC Staff in enhancing their Research Engagements .
In line with it, as part of encouraging, motivating and appreciating the immense efforts of student researchers and Faculty mentors of the Research Project ,the ELC management undertook a praiseworthy initiative to felicitate all the Researchers of the Research Project in a Felicitation Ceremony.All the Researchers were felicitated and were given certificate of Appreciation by the Heads of the Sections,Dr.Sultan Al Ghafri and Dr.Maryam Al Ghafri
The Student Researchers of the Project are : IbtisamSaif Rashid AL Muqrushi( Student Team leader ), Abdul azizSalimmohammed Rashid AL Farsi, Amjad Mohammed Nasser Talib Al kalbani,SafaAwadhSulaiman Al-Kalbaniya and Tif Rashid Mohammed Nasser Al Shahoomi and the faculty mentors of the Project are Dr.PriyaMankaraVijayan and Mr.DennisPrimneCorbita
The success story of the ELC Research Team in winning the MOHERI Funded research Project has indeed become a great source of inspiration to ELC staff .It infact has facilitated in enhancing the number of submissions of ELC Research Proposals for the next call for MOHERI proposals _2022,the involvement of more ELC staff members in varied ELC Research Proposals and in promoting the research culture of ELC.
The IELTS free course was conducted from June 19 to June 23, 2022, as students took the IELTS test on the 24th and 25th of June,2022 at UTAS-Ibri. Around 15 students attended the course and found it very beneficial. Ms Sharon Devaneson focused on giving essential strategies that would enable a student to score high. Activities related to the strategies were dealt with in the classroom. Certificates were given to them at the end of the programme.
Dr Sultan Al Ghafri and Ms Sharon Ruth Devaneson coordinated with the rest of the team to enable the smooth functioning of the Community Courses
As serving the community is part of the UTAS-Ibri Mission and goal, the ELC management of UTAS-Ibri decided to provide a General English course for the community. The General English course was advertised on the UTAS-Ibri website, Twitter and Instagram account. A needs analysis survey was conducted, and more than 350 students expressed what they needed from the course. The General English course catered to university students, self-employed, unemployed students and employed students. The placement test was conducted on May 30, 2022 and students were put in different levels.The teachers who taught the course were Michael Cassidy, Zumrut Cassidy, Hind Al Mahrouqi, Dr Miriam Cordova, Dr Eman Issa, Andries Oberholzer, Rosalie Balmas, Mariette Oberholzer and Dr Mohsin.
The material was created and compiled based on students’ needs. The course ran from June 12 to June 23, 2022) The classes were packed with highly interactive student-centred activities focused on speaking and writing and motivating them to overcome their weaknesses and excel in what they needed. An inspiring talk was conducted by Ms Misoon Sulaiman Al Sakiti, an alumna of the Engineering department. She spoke about job opportunities at the PDO and her experience in the engineering field to the unemployed students on June 15, 2022, to motivate them.
All the students gave a presentation on their classroom learning experiences on the ninth day. There was a Video presentation of the classroom activities. On the final day, 23/6/2022, there was a General English programme held at the lecture theatre of UTAS- Ibri. Sheikh Mohsin Hamed Mohsin Al Maskari, the wali of Ibri, presided over the function. A report on the General English Programme was delivered by Dr Abdusalam Al Manthari, HOC, ELC, UTAS-Ibri.
Certificates were distributed to the students and teachers by the chief guest Sheikh Mohsin Hamed Mohsin Al Maskari, the wali of Ibri and Dr Hamdan Al Manthari, the dean of UTAS-Ibri. One can tell that the General English course was a complete success as there was evidence of joy and happiness on the faces of the students and the fact that they were already asking about the dates of the next course.
The University of Technology and Applied Sciences-Ibri, hosted the International English Language Teaching Symposium- (IELTS-2022): Paradigms, Pathways and Possibilities in ELT on June 29-30, 2022. The English Language Centre was back after a hiatus of two years with its striking initiatives, and the two-day symposium was the result of the collaborative efforts of the ELTPDW. Mr Faisal Al Shamali, the head of the Professional Development Committee led the team. The symposium provided a platform for virtual and in-person presenters and participants from 35 countries. More than 3,000 participants registered for the mega-event.
The opening ceremony was hosted by Dr Mobina Rahnama and graced by Shaikh Saif Bin Abdullah Al Mamari, the Wali of Yanqul; Dr Hamdan Al Manthari, the Dean of UTAS, Ibri; assistant deans Dr Naser Al Kalbani and Mr. Rashid Al Hinai; heads of department Dr Sultan Al Ghafri (ELC), Dr Maryam Al Ghafri (ELC), Dr Nasser Al Shammaki (Department of Engineering) and Dr Abdulrahman Al Ismaili (Department of Business Studies). Dr Abdulsalam Al Manthari, the Head of the English Language Centre, addressed the audience and underlined the significance of the symposium in the national and international arenas.
Day one of the symposium was virtual and hosted ten keynote speakers and 42 presenters. The keynote speakers who graced the occasion on day one were Prof Stephen Krashen, a linguist, educational expert, political activist and honorary professor from the USA; Dr Mick King from Community College of Qatar; Dr Christine Coombe from Dubai College of Men, UAE; Dr Christel Broady, from Georgetown College, USA; Dr Fouzia Rouaghe from University of Mohamed Lamine Debaghine Sétif 2; Prof Khalil Motallebzadeh from Tabaran Institute of Higher Education, Iran; Prof. Carol Evans, an honorary visiting professor at Cardiff University; Dr Wafa Zoghbor Associate Professor, from Zayed University, UAE; Dr Jamila Al Siyabi, from SQU, Oman; and Prof. Liz England, Founder of TESOL International Association Career Path Development Professional Learning Network, USA. The canvas of their talks was huge, and the impact was immense on the audience. There were experiences and lessons replete with inspiration, expertise and novelty for all.
Day two session was hosted exclusively for in-person keynote speakers, presenters and participants who took immense interest to benefit from the event. The keynote speakers who graced the occasion were Dr Hashil Al Saadi, Language Lecturer, Oman; Dr Fatemeh Ranjbaran from UTAS-Nizwa; Dr Anfal Al Wahaibi, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Social Services at Sultan Qaboos University; Dr Misida Al Jahwari, College of Economics and Political Science from SQU, Oman; and Eva Grayzel, Master Storyteller and Visionary Survivor from USA.
The virtual and in-person keynote speakers, presenters and participants were awarded certificates and mementos as a token of appreciation.
The closing ceremony celebrated the joyous moments of the much-awaited success. Dr Abdulsalam thanked the virtual and in-person keynote speakers, presenters and participants, the heads of departments/centres, ETC staff, and all the ELC staff who made their presence felt with their support, motivation, and commitment.
Julie Walters aptly quotes: “Debate is so much better than denial’’ For the second time in AY 2021-2022, the ELC Students’ Activities Committee conducted another debate competition on June 1,2022. This time, two groups of Public Speaking students compete against each other. The topic of the debate was ‘Teachers’ Attitudes vs. Teaching Methodologies’. The topic was selected by the students after providing them with more than 35 different topics. Overall, the debate was competitive and interactive. Many students and alumni from different levels actively participated in the ceremony. Both teams were excellent based on the feedback, and that is the reason the competition was neck to neck. As per the final scores, Team B received two marks more than Team A; however, out of three judges, two judges announced Team A as the winner as per their overall judgments. The best speakers from each group were chosen by the judges as well.
The ELC Students’ Activities Committee extended heartfelt thanks to the judges and Ms. Heba and Ms. Sandra, who encouraged and supported their students to make the competition a grand success. The lists of winner teams are as follows:
- Mr. Mazaher Engameh
- Ms. Zahra Zohair Arab
- Ms. Nasiyba Salim Saif Al Ghafri
Team A: (First Place)
- Samah Mubarak Said Al Ghafri
- Hamam Salim Hamdan Al Shaaili
- Abdullah Marhoon Mana AL Kalbani
- Jawahir Hamed Muslem Al Yaaribi
Team B: (Second Place)
- Abdulaziz Khalid Abdullah Al hinina
- Marwah Mohammed Ali Al Mazrouai
- Shuhd Ali Aamir Al Hatmi
- Afara Ghamil Obaid Al Wahshi
Best Speakers of the Debate:
- Samah Al Ghafri (Team A)
- Afara Ghamil Obaid Al Wahshi (Team B)
In the academic year 2021–2022, Dr. Abdulsalam Al Manthari and Dr. Mohsen Amiri delivered three presentations at different conferences and symposiums. The first presentation was delivered at the Oman International ELT Virtual Conference at Sultan Qaboos University on October 15, 2021. The topic of the presentation was Interpersonal Skills and Personality Development for GFP Students. The second presentation was presented at the ELT symposium at UTAS-Shinas on May 17,2022. Both presenters spoke about the challenges, opportunities, and effective strategies The of teaching English in the GFP. The third presentation was conducted in person at the ‘First National Symposium on Post-pandemic ELT: from Reflation to Action Research’ organized by the English Language Center at UTAS-Ibra. The Importance of Extracurricular Activities for the GFP Students was the topic of the presentation that was highly appreciated by the participants of the session.
The ELC has always been a support platform for the community, university staff and students. In continuation with providing services and knowledge contributions, Dr. Mohsen Amiri conducted a two-day intensive English course for the administrative staff of the university. In this course, the most common written and spoken phrases related to the workplace taught were made available in the form of a booklet, written and compiled by Dr. Mohsen. In addition, the most common mistakes made by employees in writing and speaking have been covered in various ways and one of them was role-playing. Excellent feedback was received from the participants at the end of the course. Certificates of course completion were awarded to the participants by the ELC.
After establishing the official training office, the Students’ Activities Committee received many students. In order to prepare students for the midterm and final exams, the committee decided to organize tutorial workshops for each level. In the first semester (AY 2021-2022), the committee organized six (Writing & Speaking) workshops, and in the second semester, the number of workshops reached 12. Out of 18 workshops, 16 were done by Dr. Mohsen Amiri and Ms. Adeebah Al Sawafi for foundation students. Two workshops were done by Ms. Sandra (TW1, March 29) and Ms. Lubna (Level 2 Writing, April 24). The second semester’s workshops were like a series, and more than 800 students attended, not only from our university but also from many other colleges and universities in Oman. The recorded sessions of all the workshops are available on the English Society Teams channel and Instagram. Each workshop lasted for 2 hours. Some of the workshops are available on YouTube as well. The committee would like to thank Ms. Moza, Samiya and Mr. Syam for their active role in the workshops. Last but not least, we would like to appreciate Dr. Abdulsalam (HOC) for his constant support and encouragement throughout this remarkable achievement.