A webinar on Teaching Methods and Techniques in ELT on 24 June 2021 at UTAS-Ibri brought two speakers who shared their experiences on two exciting topics. The first speaker, Ms Fatima Fattoumi from Tunisia, spoke on Digital Tools in Blended Learning towards Enhancing Students' Engagement and the speaker, Ms Yousra Ferchichi, shed light on the use of podcasts an educating tool.
Digital Tools in Blended Learning towards Enhancing Students' Engagement
Blended learning is a technique of teaching that integrates era and digital media with traditional trainer-led school room sports, giving college students greater flexibility to personalize their gaining knowledge of reports.
Ms Fatima Fattoumi's light on integrating digital tools in blended learning might enhance students' motivation towards active learning.She emphasized that learning by doing is beneficial for enhancing students' engagement and admitted that in conventional English Language Teaching methods, most of the learning happens through acquisition. Within a less interactive learning environment, the student's motivation for production remains minimal. She also opined that the continual cycle of inter-influence between concepts and practice might be negatively impacted.
The insights shared were quite informative and contemporary and were worth integrating with the teaching process.
Fatma Fattoumi is an Educator at the Higher Institute of Information and Communication Technologies, the University of Carthage, Tunisia. She is pursuing PhD candidate, in Cultural Studies, at the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Humanities at the University of Manouba, Tunisia. She is a verified reviewer for the Current Psychology Journal.
Innovative Teaching Techniques- The use of Podcasts as an Educational Learning Tool
Innovative teaching techniques have emerged in post-pandemic academia. Project, inquiry, task, and game based learning diverge into positive teaching psychology implementing the 21st century skills like creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. The use of podcasts resides at the top part of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. As a PBL teaching tool, podcasting gives a voice to students’ narratives and teachers interchangeably.
Ms Yousra, in her presentation, demonstrated an effective podcast creation funnel to create a student-centered learning experience and explained differentiation criteria incorporated in podcasting rendering it a democratizing tool to accessible knowledge to all learners equally. The presenter also stated that Bloom’s Digital taxonomy applies this performative based learning tool by utilizing lower and higher order thinking skills. Further, she opined that Podcasting is far from being a new trend, yet it can create a modernized education and more independent learners fit to global perspectives.
Yousra is an English Language teacher from Tunisia. She is a Master's degree holder in English language and literature specialized in Cross-Cultural Poetics. Her degree was issued in 2011 from the Higher Institute of Languages part of the University of Carthage in Tunis. She is also a CELTA qualified instructor. As a scholar, she conducted her research on the performative aspect of literature and its role in shaping human identity.
The candidate interview is a vital component of the hiring process. The ELC Students’ Activities Committee had always been at the forefront in preparing students for the dynamic job market. It has been striving hard to provide a suitable platform that provides ample opportunities to students and also helps them to realize their own potential and find a suitable path for themselves. . The ELC Students’ Activities Committee conducted its last professional workshop on ‘How to Win the Job Interview’ for the students of UTAS-Ibri on June 10, 2021. The session was led by Dr Mohsen and Ms Samah Al Ghafri.
At the beginning of the workshop, Dr Abdulsalam, the HOC welcomed all students and shared his accumulated experience on job interviews. In fact, his active presence in all the activities has been always an immense motivation behind the SAC and students. During the workshop, Dr Mohsen conducted a mock interview with the president of English Society (Samah) by asking the most common questions asked in the job interviews. All students were engaged during the session to evaluate Samah’s performance. The most important tips of having a successful job interview for fresh graduates were discussed and performed practically for the students. The session lasted for two hours with excellent feedback from students.
The English Language Center at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences took a lofty initiative to arrange IELTS preparatory classes for the community from 23 May 2021 to 17 June 2021.
More than 1100 people from all over Oman registered for the course and around 100 students were accepted on the course based on their academic needs. Students who had registered to appear for the IELTS exam and students under probation were given priority.
A team of professionals from UTAS-Ibri, trained the students from the community and the following trainers from the ELC taught IELTS to students from the community: Dr. Sultan Al Ghafri, Mr. Michael Keeton, Mr. Ghanim Al Alawi, Ms. Fazilat Jahan, Ms. Mariya Saleem, Mr. Dennis Corbita Dr. Michelle Mendoza.
The registered students were distributed in two groups and each group attended four sessions a week. Students were taught reading and writing in the first two and listening and speaking in the last two weeks. A mock exam for each skill was also conducted and students were given detailed feedback. The extensive training instilled confidence in students and ignited their competitive spirit. It is expected that this effort from the ELC would go a long way in helping the community students to achieve a good band score in the IELTS exam.
Interpersonal skills and personality development are an integral part of a student’s life. Young learners with strong interpersonal skills are performing team members and potential leaders. They communicate effectively with others, whether family, friends, colleagues, customers or clients. They also have better relationships at home and at work.
The ELC Students’ Activities Committee announced Professional Workshops for all the students of UTAS-Ibri in the third semester, May 2021. The workshops aimed to boost students’ interpersonal (soft) and personality development skills to prepare them for the international job market.
A considerable number of graduates fail to win the job interviews due to poor interpersonal and skills enhancing personality development. Hence, four different workshops were planned for students to be held in the third semester by Dr Mohsen, the head of the Students’ Activities Committee, who has been training similar workshops since 2016 at UTAS- Ibri.
The first workshop on Personality Development was held on 27 May 2021. The main objective of the workshop was to create awareness among young learners about the importance of personality development and the role of interpersonal skills. Dr Mohssen stated that personality development is all about building one’s capacities, nurturing talent, enhancing new skill sets, working on weaknesses, and transforming them into strengths. He further added that it is essential for students to be aware of various elements that help develop a robust personality.
During the workshop, Dr Abdulsalam Almanthari (HOC) addressed students and urged them to realise the importance of workshops with his motivational words. Excellent feedback was received from students based on the records. He thanked the President of English Society, Samah Al Ghafri, for her valuable contributions.
Discussion forums, either as a whole or in small groups are some of the pronounced ways to get students to interact with one another, primarily when we use formal discussion prompts or provide informal opportunities for collaboration or topical discussion.
The ELC English Society organized its second online professional workshop for UTAS-Ibri students on advanced speaking skills on July 5, 2021, through MS Teams. The mode of discussion was termed as free discussion and the participants were allowed to choose a topic of their choice to participate in the session. The discussion centred on the topic titled Education.
Dr Mohssen Amiri led the session by evaluating the perspectives of students and their English proficiency. The workshop aimed to provide a stress-free and conducive environment for students to enhance their communication and public speaking skills. In this workshop, students became conversant with familiar with various structures, phrases and relevant vocabularies of the given topic. The feedback was highly encouraging, and the students' interest in similar workshops in the future seemed evident from their repeated requests. Dr Mohssen extended his heartfelt thanks to the active members of the English Society for their rich contribution.
Inspiring young learners to seek knowledge has always been the driving force at ELC, UTAS-Ibri. The Students Activities Committee (SAC) ignited the learning spirit of young speakers by conducting a speech competition on March 18, 2021, at ELC, UTAS - Ibri. Eleven participants from the foundation level showcased their speaking skills through self-recorded videos. The competition was fierce and the participants gave their best and competed with each other. The winners stole the show with their confidence and swirled their way to glory.
Ms Fazilat Jahan, Mr Michael Keeton, Ms Mary Jacob, Ms Maha Al Derai, Ms Rabeea, Ms Frizha May Baylon Melgarejo, Mr Andries Oberholzer and Ms Mariette Oberholzer were on the judges' panel.
The winners, Ms Maryam Humaid Al Gharibi from level three, bagged the first position, Ms Nazar Said Obaid Al Shukaili from level two was at second position and Ms Rawan Khalfan Said Al Ghafri from level four stood third.
The SAC extended their heartfelt thanks to Dr Abdulsalam Al Manthari, head of the English Language Centre, for encouraging the young talent and appreciated the dedicated efforts of Ms Samah Al Ghafri, the President of English Society.
Research shows that active review sessions help students prepare for exams by allowing them to prioritize key concepts and information taught throughout the term and to build their knowledge and confidence for the exam process (Favero, 2011).
The ELC English Society provided its first academic writing online review session for Level Four foundation students with the aim of providing them with an overview of what was expected of them for the writing exams. These sessions also gave students an opportunity to ask general or specific questions about the exam process and/or the content of the course. The session reviewed specific formulas involved in the academic writing process, including examples of line graph essays and argumentative essays which follow an IELTS-style format.
The session, led by academic writing lecturer Sandra Bruce, was held on November 19, 2020. Approxintaly 25 students were in attendance, including both foundation and post-foundation students who wanted to brush up on their knowledge of the academic writing process and ensure they were ready for the exam. Student feedback indicated that the session was useful and informative, and provided students with the confidence they needed to perform well on the final exam. They expressed gratitude for the organization of this review session, and an interest in future sessions. Subsequent review sessions for academic writing midterm and final exams will be conducted, either in person or online, as a resource for foundation students to continue to grow in their English language skills.
Favero, T. G. (2011). Active review sessions can advance student learning. Advances in
Physiology Education, 35, pp, 247-8.
The ELT Colloquium was organized by Professional Development, English Language Center at UTAS, Ibri-Oman on Thursday 3 June 2021 at 10:00 am GST. The guest speakers were Ms Sharyn Collins from the UK, Dr Mike Kenteris from Greece, and James Papple from Canada.
The following speakers shared their experiences and the takeaways were noteworthy:
The Etiquette of Online Learning
Online learners are yet to become conversant with online etiquette and have varying notions of how they should behave and express themselves during an online English lesson. Therefore, virtual ESL educators are expected to lead by example through their professionalism, especially young learners.
It is not surprising for online ESL students to falter or lose their confidence in class because their anxiety is about not being listened to or receiving questions about uncomfortable subjects. However, by following guidelines on how to act or discuss in class, a language teacher can make students feel more at ease through fruitful and motivating interactions.
Based on her experiences, Ms Sharyn Collins focused on various rules that need to be implemented to ensure effective teaching and learning. She emphasized professional attire and the use of appropriate body language. Ms Sharyn also underlined the effect of a smiling face and an engaging teaching background. She further added that punctuality is a must and inspiring words and appreciations wields magic on learners' psyche. The takeaways of the presentation were varied and impressive.
Sharyn Collins is a British linguist who speaks six languages. She is an EFL teacher who specializes in pronunciation and communication. She was editor of www.EFLmagazine.com for two years and now she works freelance giving talks `and delivering courses to EFL teachers throughout the world.
Providing Differentiated Support for EAP Students
Differentiated instruction caters to the learning needs of students of different abilities. It is a unique approach that tailors instruction to all students' learning needs. All the students have the same learning goal. However, the instruction varies based on students' interests, preferences, strengths, and struggles.Mr James Papple shared various teaching strategies designed to support students of different EAP settings. Participants were introduced to methods and principles of differentiated instructions to support all students in the language classroom.
James Papple is the Interim Associate Director at the York University English Language Institute and is the current chair of TESOL's Affiliate network and Professional Council. He is the co-chair of TESL Ontario's College and University Committee and is a board member of the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CCLB)
Transform your Classes Using the Flipped Learning Approach
Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach that has gained momentum in language classrooms. Direct instruction shifted from the group learning space to the individual learning space and is transformed into a vibrant, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students to apply concepts and engage creatively in the subjects they learn.
Dr Mike Kenteris gave an informative presentation on how flipping students' learning facilitates educators to establish stronger connections with their learners. Dr Mike shared an interesting description of a practical Flipped Learning class and the best use of students' face-to-face time. He opined that giving students ownership of their learning outside of class and guiding them to learn the language in a cooperative and collaborative learning space will bring about positive and effective results.
Dr Mike Kenteris (M.Eng, M.Sc. PhD) is a professional educator and is a language school owner. Passionate about integrating Flipped Learning through active learning strategies that empower student engagement and build strong learning communities. He has been a TESOL EVO Moderator for the Flipped Learning in Language Teaching session for three years.
In his webinar, Vance Stevens stressed that participation in CoPs is vital for ongoing teacher professional development. Drawing from experience coordinating teachers’ CoPs for the past 20 years, the presenter illustrates the evolution of groups into CoPs and how CoPs interact in distributed personal learning networks, continually leveraging participant’s PD and modelling ways to be applied later in teaching practices. It strongly suggested that teachers must be trained not only in the use of social media but also in English Language Teaching applications.
Vance Stevens hosts the podcast series Learning2gether with over 515 episodes. He founded the CoP Webheads in Action in 2002 and has coordinated TESOL CALL-IS Electronic Village Online since 2003, and he has been the lead moderator of EVO Minecraft MOOC since 2015. He received the 2019 CALL Research Conference Lifetime Achievement Award.
The integration of online evaluation in the academic realm has transformed the very face of teaching and learning. It has simplified the evaluation process, facilitating teachers to provide quick and constructive feedback on students’ results and progress.
Mr Abdullah Salim Al Balushi drew the attention of the ELC staff to the various facets of Online Evaluations, Design Evaluation Rubric for Online Teaching and Learning through his presentation on May 5, 2021, at UTAS-Ibri. The webinar was hosted by the English Language Centre in collaboration with the professional Development Committee, ELC.
Mr Abdullah underlined the main differences between the purposes, techniques and tools used in assessment and evaluation. The presentation also focused on different online evaluation purposes, processes and methods. He also elaborated on innovative teaching methodologies used in online and traditional teaching and learning approach.
He emphasized Evaluation Methodologies that have stressed the importance of determining the purpose of the evaluation process. Other significant aspects of the presentation that generated interest in the audience were the challenges faced by online program evaluators and using a rubric for online evaluation.
The methodologies, interesting quick-tips and use of a rubric for online evaluation were the rich takeaways of the presentation.
Mr Abdullah Al Balushi has contributed immensely to the academic world. His vast teaching experience and rich administrative skills are exemplary. He currently heads the Examination Committee at the English Language Centre of UTAS –Ibri.