Language Policy accentuates the growth of the field by publishing high-quality studies that lay a strong foundation for the theoretical understanding of the subject area. Dr Lilia A Cotejar shared her experiences on research and language policy through a webinar titled Research and Language Policy on December 2, 2021, hosted by the ELC, UTAS-Ibri.
Dr Lilia A Cotejar holds a PhD in English Language and Literature from Ateneo de Manila University. Writing mainly about Asian women’s novels, she is actively engaged in national and international conferences dealing with Asian women’s literature and regional writings.
In coordination with the Quality Assurance Coordinator of ELC, the Human Resource Department conducted an awareness session for the new staff on Individual Performance Management System(IPMS) on Thursday, 24 March 2022, at the ELC meeting room. The ELC coordinator Ms Zahra was the speaker and explained the objectives of the IPMS. The four objectives discussed in detail were a. building the culture of the quality performance, b.improving the performance evaluation system, and c. linking productivity with incentives.
Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centred approach which encourages students to work in groups to find solutions to open-ended problems. This approach is popular among EFL teachers as it has become a driving force in many contexts.
A presentation on Problem Based Learning (PBL) on Thursday, 24 March 2022, encouraged the audience to share their views on integrating PBL techniques in classrooms.
The speaker, Mr Abdullah Al-Balushi, gave a brief idea of how to orient students to use Problem Based Learning(PBL) in various learning contexts. The session was explained in seven stages with quick tips to implement during teaching sessions.
Abdullah Al Balushi has been teaching at UTAS since 2011. He has the CELTA certification and a Master’s in the English Language. He has worked in different administrative and teaching positions in the ELC during the last ten years.
Roleplay is considered one of the important methods to achieve active learning. It engages the participants and instils confidence to present themselves before the audience.
Ms Nusaiba Al Ghafri and Mr Humaid Al Mamari, English language lecturers at the ELC, demonstrated the same through a Role Play Contest at the Multi-Purpose Hall in the Engineering Building on Tuesday the 29th of March from 12:00 am to 2:00 pm. The participants were from groups two and eleven.
The contest was a platform for the students to enhance their speaking skills, build confidence, enhance creativity and imagination and accentuate their communication skills. A detailed explanation of the rules was provided to the students.
Four teams participated in the contest, three teams from group eleven and one team from group two. Mr Humaid Al Mamari started the contest by performing a short sketch called “The Silent House” to arouse students’ interest in acting and break the ice. The panel judges from the ELC Ms Anuradha, Ms Zahra and Dr Mobina announced the winner from the four teams.
After the contest, students participated in two other activities: Pictionary and Charades. These two activities were conducted to ensure maximum participation from the students. The vocabulary used in the activities was mainly from the course book, which was a good practice for the students to revise what they had studied earlier.
The role play contest was conducted for the first time in the ELC between two groups. The students showed great interest in it and increased their confidence and presentation skills. They also got very excited and hoped to participate in similar contests in future.
On behalf of UTAS-Ibri, ELC, Mr Mohammed Al Shammakhi gave a detailed presentation on the fire safety workshop on Thursday, March 10, 2022, at 10 a.m. The scheme of the presentation included fire triangle & classification, types of fire extinguishers, Use of fire extinguishers, rules for fighting a fire, and first aid for fire injury. The presentation, coupled with a practical demonstration by the Health and Safety Committee, created awareness among the staff and prepared them for contingencies.
An awareness session on Risk Management was conducted on March 24, 2022, by the ELC, UTAS-Ibri. The speaker Mr Rabee Al Shekeili explained the objective of the committee to the newly recruited teaching staff. He clarified that the committee was formed to identify, prioritize, and develop action plans to avoid potential risks and consequences that may affect the efficiency of the college operations. He added further that to understand the risk management process, and one should be conversant to identify, analyze, evaluate and treat the existing and potential risks. The presentation also made the audience familiar with the registration process.
Conducting extra-curricular activities aiming at academic excellence has always been a norm at UTAS-Ibri, ELC.
Ms Nusaiba Al Ghafri and Mr Humaid Al Mamari, English language lecturers at the ELC, organised a quiz competition at the Multi-Purpose Hall in the Engineering Building on Wednesday the 9th of March from 12:00 am to 2:00 pm. The participants were from groups two and ten.
The main objective of the competition was to test students’ knowledge prior to the quiz competition to generate their interest in learning English. A detailed explanation of the rules and the four rounds of the quiz was provided to the students.
The first round was based on grammar and vocabulary, and Kahoot, a free game-based learning platform, was used in the second round, and three winners were finalised. The third round had a quiz contest that involved all students from both groups, and five winners were selected. The final round challenged the students to put the selected words into error-free sentences.
The competition was the first of its kind, and the effectiveness was evident.
The participants found the class and the quiz contest engaging and beneficial. It was a successful event where students were active, attentive, encouraged and enjoyed learning English.
The English Language Centre, of UTAS-Ibri has always been an anchor for the IELTS aspirants. As part of its novel initiative, a 2-day refresher course in IELTS was conducted on the 23rd and 24th of February 2022, from 4 pm to 6 pm.
This course was designed to train and prepare students for the IELTS test. Dr Abdulsalam, Head of the ELC, welcomed the students and encouraged them to seize the opportunity provided by the ELC of UTAS-Ibri and progress in their selected careers. The course was designed and customized by conducted by Ms. Sharon Devaneson. The participants were shown the samples of common errors while practicing listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. She discussed the strategies that could be used to overcome these problems. A few links and handouts of a complete sample IELTS test were given to the students for self –study. The sessions were highly interactive as the participants asked for clarifications and showed immense interest in the sessions. The sessions instilled immense confidence and was a much-needed platform for beginners. These students showed great zeal and determination to achieve the IELTS 5.0 needed for their bachelor's degree programme. The course was a game changer for the beginners and a defined goal for those who wanted to reach the next milestone.
To help improve the employability skills among students and enhance the achievement of Graduate Attributes (GAs) through innovative teaching methodology, staff at the English Language Centre of UTAS-Ibri initiated the idea of 'Live Experience' of job interviews for the students of Public Speaking. This event was an achievement under the usual support and encouragement of Head of English Language Centre Dr. Abdulsalam Al Manthari. Ms. Heba Qureshi (Lecturer ELC and Coordinator Public Speaking) provided the platform of formal walk-in job interviews to help the Post-Foundation students in learning and polishing the required skills of appearing for an interview in a real-life scenario. The interviews were scheduled for two days 22nd Feb-23rd Feb.2022 (Tue-Wed.).
Students underwent a great deal of practice in the classrooms before the actual day of walk-in job interviews. They also provided their views during the practice sessions. The other arrangement included setting up the venue, preparing the waiting lounge for the candidates, panel members’ arrangements, recording each interview and candidates’ opinions before and after the interviews. Panel members were also video interviewed for their views and opinions about the activity. The ELC staff members who participated in the activity included; Mr. Khalid Al-Gharibi, Mr. Salim Al-Shukeli, Ms. Maha Al-Darei, Ms. Adeebah Al-Sawafi, Mr. Mokhtar Lafi, Ms. Zahra Arab, Ms. Rabeea Ibrahim, Dr. Amir Abbas, Ms. Frizha, Ms. Mobina Kamran, Dr. Mamo Alo, Mr. Mazahar Engameh and Dr. Michelle.
As analysis of any activity helps in the implementation of ADRI and this analysis is critical for better planning in the next stage. In this regard, the feedback of involved staff and students was also taken via questionnaire. As per the result of the survey conducted, both students and staff showed a high rate of satisfaction 5 on a Likert scale of 1-5. The result also indicates that students want to go through more practical sessions like this as it helps strengthen their self-confidence, manage pressure, and employability skills and these are the skills set as per the Graduate Attributes (GAs). Ms. Heba requested the panel members to ask any other question which is not in the list of questions if the panel observes a candidate as more competent. This intended to test the preparation level for extempore answers and students presented great answers for any surprise questions. Both days were successfully covered by ETC and a video is in progress to be uploaded on the university website. Students and staff have expressed their views and comments in this video. The Head of ELC, Dr. Abdulsalam Al-Manthari appreciated the efforts and congratulated the staff and students on their hard work and great performance.
Dr Mariam Al Ghafri, the Head of Curriculum and Teaching Methodologies, ELC, UTAS Ibri, presented significant findings of a research conducted at the beginning of semester one, 2021, to study the experiences of Foundation Program Students who took online courses during COVID-19 Pandemic at UTAS-Ibri. The objective of the survey was to know the challenges faced by the students and the ways and means to overcome them. It also tried to study the efficacy of the instructional methods and resources provided by the ELC. The survey was in Arabic with open-ended questions for free responses. According to the survey, 125% of the students who responded felt staying motivated and focused was a significant challenge, and 75% said domestic distractions were a major issue. The other challenges identified were less interaction with teachers and peers, internet difficulties, limited resources, and time management. On a positive note, students overcame challenges through peer tutoring, reviewing lecture notes and adhering strictly to the schedule provided. The survey also highlighted the effectiveness of instructional resources, and e-books and interactive activities topped the list.
Dr Mariam Al Ghafri is the Head of Curriculum and Teaching Methodologies UTAS IBRI. She has a doctorate in Education and Technology from the University of Sheffield /United Kingdom
She believes that inspiration, motivation and support can unlock the hidden potentials of individuals.