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.
A novel presentation by Ms Saoussen Jilani engaged the audience on February 23, 2022, at the ELC, UTAS-Ibri. Ms Saoussen states that efficient speakers demonstrate energy and power and engage the audience. She further stated that a guest speaker requires a suite of abilities to make transformative experiences for audiences. According to her, a great orator should entertain the audience, energize them, be creative, and be a role model; they should present themselves as the source of inspiration and be the light of hope.
Ms Jilani shared a presentation assessment rubric that was a kind of ready reckoner for the first time, virtual guest speakers. The takeaways were rich, and the audience had many novel tips waiting to get executed.
Ms Saoussen Jilani was awarded a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the English Language Center, UTAS-Ibri.
Saoussen Jilani is a lecturer at the Higher Institute of Health and Medical Techniques in Tunisia. Currently, she teaches medical English to the first year and second-year students of obstetrics and prosthetics. Her main preoccupation is to engage such students in the English course actively and therefore use it for external reasons that far exceeds the borders of a classroom.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a massive shift in how we work, learn and connect with others. Effects rippling from the Covid 19 emergency include changes in the personal, social, and economic spheres.
The Business Studies department and the ELC jointly hosted a webinar titled Learning the New Normal Way on March 3, 2022 at UTAS, Ibri. Dr. Fitzgerald Kintana took the audience through an informative presentation that focussed on challenges faced by teachers while embracing and adapting the new normal way. The gaps he stated were: limited experience in synchronous online teaching, lack of training needs, time constraints and naïve logistics and instructional strategies. He introduced the audience to Tech-Champs, who led the way to implement a technology-based curriculum and further added that they are indigenizing the curriculum and the hybridization of technology in the new normal. The presentation had plethora of information on asynchronous learning activities. The audience was exposed to the truth of e-learning and shared challenges students face while going digital and strategies to keep them engaged in digital classrooms.
Dr Fitzgerald, the presentation with a thought-provoking quote “Technology, will not replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational -George Couros.”
Dr Fitzgerald Kintanar is the Dean, College of Education CTU – Argao Cebu, Philippines. He is a classroom teacher, community teacher and researcher.
ELC at UTAS-Ibri conducted an online workshop on Thursday, February 10, 2022 on “How to Overcome Struggles during the Acquisition of a New Language” by Lourdes Sarita Alzamora Vargas, Peru. It was organized by Staff Professional Development- English Language Centre at University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Ibri-Oman.
Ms Laurdes focused on integrating Emotional Intelligence in language classrooms to achieve learning outcomes. She emphasized on making EI as part of language curriculum as it helps students to overcome traumas, resilience and unexplained fears while learning English as a foreign language. She further stated that teachers play a vital role in creating a conducive learning environment and sustain the interest of the learners, especially during pandemic times.
Ms Lourdes Sarita Alzamora Vargas has been Teaching English for over 18 years at different private schools, institutes and universities. She runs a school of her own and conducts English and Spanish online sessions.
The English Language Centre of UTAS-Ibri held a webinar titled How to use Masader to Write Literature Review? on February 3, 2022. The speaker Dr Laly Antoney shared a list of parameters to define a researcher and literature review as an art of expressing oneself through awareness of the know-how of the research process.
She highlighted the significance of literature review as it provides the basis upon which the researcher establishes the research context, formulate research problems and develop the research design and data collection tools. She cautioned the audience to look for credible scholarly sources and acquainted them with the list of indicators. A few tips on keeping track of citation through Refworks, Endnote, Zotero, Mendley were highly appreciated.
In her presentation, she shared the literature review process and ways to search for scholarly literature in Masader, the virtual library database of the University. Both amateurs and experienced research scholars were immensely benefitted as the information shared was of immediate use.
According to Dr Laly a committed researcher is aware of the established school of thoughts, current knowledge, proven research methods, and tools prior researchers have adopted to address the current or similar research topics. She further stated that researchers ought to be conversant with the skills to search for credible scholarly sources to synthesize and portray the relevant literature's current status in their chosen field of study. The English Language Centre thanked her immensely for her efforts and contribution.
Dr. Laly Antoney is a faculty member of the Business Studies Department, UTAS –Ibri, and has more than 24 years of international teaching experience (India, Bahrain and Oman) in Business education. Dr Laly holds a doctorate in Commerce from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India. Dr Antoney's professional philosophy is to continually develop teaching and research expertise through active engagement with professional bodies. She also aspires to utilize these skills to positively impact and constructive changes in education, research, academic fraternity, students and the larger community.
UTAS-Ibri conducted an online workshop titled Unlearn Online Teaching by Rozan Kuryyim with the collaborative efforts of the English Language Centre and the Business Studies Department on February 3, 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered significant changes in education systems worldwide, and it was challenging for the teaching community. Teachers worldwide are yet to gain a strong foothold to make their virtual classes appealing to the student community. Although online teaching started as a medium to survive and continue during the pandemic, it proved to be an appreciated and prized possibility in challenging situations where in-class teaching might have failed to take place. The workshop drew the participants' attention to misunderstood notions and beliefs associated with online classes facilitated them to understand new prospective insights in remote teaching.
Rozan Kuryyim is a graduate teaching assistant at the ELI, University of Jeddah. She holds a master's degree in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Sydney. Rozan has almost nine years of experience in teaching English as a foreign language. She is passionate about innovative teaching and curriculum design that suits language learners' continuously changing interests and needs.
Assessment is a crucial element in enhancing the overall quality of teaching and learning in higher education. What and how students learn depends to a major extent on how they think they will be assessed. Online academic programs are becoming more prevalent across the world. All assessments lead to student learning, but a fundamental challenge lies in stimulating the right kind of learning. Therefore, assessment practices must be designed to send the right signals to students in shaping the effectiveness of student learning – about what they should learn and how they should learn.
The English Language Centre of UTAS-Ibri hosted a webinar titled Adopt, Adapt, Improve on January 27 2022. The guest speaker Kinda Abd Al Rahman highlighted the pivotal role of assessment in online academic programmes in her presentation. She emphasized the importance of assessment and considered it an important means of measuring a student's progress, achievement, and feedback while pursuing online credit courses. She underlined the significance of summative and formative assessment, interactive assessments and self-assessment. Challenges like academic integrity, high workload, technical issues and students' isolation were also discussed. The audience could relate and found the know-hows effective and practical.
Kinda Abd Al-Rahman is an Authorized Imperial UK English teacher. She is an English teacher with a BA in English Literature, and she has ten years of experience in teaching English to different ages of students. She has conducted various communicative workshops and designed teaching materials for personalized courses.
Mr Dennis Primne Corbita delivered a presentation on Sustaining During Covid-19: Exploring Mobile Applications to Prevent Plagiarism in teaching English Academic Writing at The University Of Technology And Applied Sciences-IBRI at the 5th Sohar University Research Conference (SURC2022) on Promoting Human Well-Being on 19 January 2022.
The presentation highlighted some thought-provoking aspects of the following three objectives:
- How to strengthen academic integrity in student writing output
- To promote sustainable learning in Education
- To inform lecturers about the common apps used in academic writing
The speaker had an interesting exchange of perspectives and obliged to the questions with convincing and conclusive responses.
Profile of the Speaker
Mr Dennis Primne Corbetta works as an English Lecturer at the English Language Centre UTAS-Ibri, Oman. He has obtained his undergraduate degree, AB –English Language and Literature, as well as his Masters of Arts in English at Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan. He has published textbooks on Art Appreciation and Reading and Writing. Currently, he is pursuing his doctoral degree.
About 150 students attended IELTS courses offered by the ELC, UTAS-Ibri, from November 21, 2021, to December 22, 2021. Employees, students, job seekers, and students from other higher educational institutions joined the courses and were hugely benefitted.
A team of highly trained teachers conducted the courses. They employed customized teaching methods and strategies to facilitate the participants to clear the IELTS. The teachers trained the aspirants to develop an ear for details to improve listening skills and equipped them with the tips and techniques to clear their IELTS writing test.
IELTS instructors provided essential tips and techniques to become proficient in listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. Models of question types and handouts with concept check questions were given for all four skills and were like ready reckoners for the students. Practical and helpful online links were also shared with the participants.
ELC, UTAS-Ibri, announced that it will continue to offer IELTS courses in future and has plans to conduct English language proficiency courses to prepare the aspirants for the challenges of the job market.The programme ended with positive feedback that mirrored their confidence and readiness.
The students thanked the ELC and requested the college management to conduct similar courses in the future. They also stated that they were grateful to their teachers for helping them with new techniques and tips to develop vocabulary.
Dr Abdulsalam Al Manthari, Head of the ELC, said: “This is part of the ELC’s commitment to providing high-quality educational services to the community.” The statement instilled confidence among the IELTS aspirants, and it was evident that the student community was helped. Certificates of Participation were given to all students who attended the IELTS course.