With his rich expertise and experience, Roy Anderson enlightened the teachers on the art of critical thinking at the English Language Center, UTAS, Ibri, on 22 April 2021.
Critical thinking is the new byword in education, but what does it mean and is it being taught effectively? In this discussion, Roy explicitly presented his perspectives on why we generally fail to improve the ability of our students to think critically and what we could otherwise do to improve this skill. He stressed the need to know why the design of school has a purpose of preventing the development of this skill in being able to reason better. Roy also introduced his audience to another dimension of improving student learning. He titled itas the art of sensitivity in awareness.
A common understanding is that a student is born with a genetic ability to learn, which can be improved through the environment they live through. The design of the school and all teaching and learning methodologies are based upon this. His explicit explanation on why this understanding of intelligence is not correct and why school learning has nothing to do with intelligence was quite convincing and impressive. He further Academic success depends on how the mind of the student, and not their brain, gain stability in the home and the class environment. If parents and teachers understood what this means, all students would get better grades in school, a better job, and control the factors in their lives.
The views shared were highly appreciated by the elite audience and the takeaways of the presentation were immensely rich. The head of ELC lauded the efforts of the professional development committee for introducing an amazing ELT professional who provided convincing solutions to the intriguing questions.
Roy Andersen is the Principal of Kingston College, Lahore and a recognised global educational expert with nearly 40 years in the development of the school system. He has a personal following of 40,000 educationalists around the world, and is much appraised for his many years of scientific research into what intelligence is, how to improve the operation of the school and how teachers can teach better.
Roy is an expert in intelligence, a specialist in Petro’s Conductive Education for disabled children and a trained Deaf and Blind teacher. He is the inventor of “The Brain Environment Complex Theory,” which presents a new concept to what intelligence is and how children learn.
The guest speaker Dr Jagan Mohan Rao shared an impressive presentation titled Behavior and Online Interaction with students on 22 April 2021. He focused more on motivating teachers to adapt to new techniques used in online teaching to ignite the young minds. He emphasizes upgrading digital teaching skills as all educators are left with the only teaching option online.
He observes that many a time, lack of availability of suitable teaching materials, failing to complete the syllabus in time, disappointed students make teaching online more stressful for the teacher and the taught.
Dr Jagan confessed that Online teaching is challenging and he listed several factors. Some of them that found a mention was heavy usage of screen time and class management issues. He strongly endorses that the factors mentioned played a dominant role.
DrJagan’s presentation centered around a detailed discussion of online learning and two approaches to online learning: synchronous and asynchronous learning methods. He also introduced the audience to the list of software programs that are now available to develop an online course. His observations on teaching online, learning and the challenges of teaching online were noteworthy. He also stated that Structuring an Online Course needed Course Planning, Course Organization and Communication.
Dr Jagan captured the essence of good teaching through the following quote:
“Good teaching is good teaching” (Ragan 1998). Experienced online instructors stress that teaching online is less about the mechanics of distance education and “more about what makes for an effective educational experience, regardless of where or when it is delivered” (Ragan 1998).
Another exciting aspect of the webinar was Evaluating Student Performance for Grading Purposes. According to the speaker evaluating the student performance for grading purposes is a responsible task. To maintain the sanctity, the teachers need to communicate expectations keep track of student performance, give prompt feedback, design tests, encourage active learning, evaluate participation in threaded discussions
Dr Jagan concluded with a suggestion that teachers need to be adept at troubleshooting technical issues which surface during online teaching as this makes the teacher and the students confident of the online teaching and learning process.
Dr Jagan Mohan Rao, Asst. Professor of English working in Shaqra University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, holds a PhD in English Language Teaching from Kakatiya University, Warangal, Telangana State, India. He has rich experience in teaching in various colleges in India and abroad(Saudi Arabia).
Currently, he is teaching Sociolinguistics, Teaching Methods, and Basic Language Skills at Shaqra University. His research interests include Speaking and Listening Skills, Forensic Linguistics, Educational Psychology, Educational Technology, Learning Disability, etc.
The professional development committee of ELC, UTAS-IBRI, has been striving hard and is at its best to meet the training needs of the ELC staff by hosting series of webinars on a wide range of topics to facilitate and update the faculty members with the dynamics of ELT and other related areas.
Assessment for General Foundation Programme is distinctive as the assessment is designed to determine whether the student meets the learning outcome standards defined by the courses offered. The four skills (LSRW) are assessed through various modes and methods based on the learning outcomes identified.
The speakers Dr Miriam Villaroman-Cordova and Ms Sharon Ruth Devaneson shared a well-tailored and customized in-house presentation titled GFP Exam Writing on 18.4.2021 with the ELC staff. The sole objective of this presentation was to create a general awareness of procedures that are followed to conduct the GFP writing exam. The session was moderated by Dr Mohammed Amir.
Dr Miriam Villaroman-Cordova has been teaching English for the past 16 years. She has a master's degree in Education Major in English. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy Major in Educational Management in 2013. She believes that teaching is an art and considers her classroom as her stage.
Ms. Sharon Ruth Devaneson has 17 years of tertiary-level English teaching experience in Oman. She has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Madras in Chennai, India. She completed her CELTA from the British Council, Oman, in 2007. She enjoys creating material to suit her learner's varied needs and styles.
The presentation made the audience conversant with the various stages of exam writing and how it is administered at the English Language center, UTAS-Ibri, based on the instructions given by the ministry.
Dr Miriam introduced the ELC staff to the members of the Exam Writing Committee and gave a detailed account of Exam specifications, learning outcomes, delivery plan and GFP moderation procedure. She also explained various stages of the exam writing process and the strategies followed to design LSRW question papers and shared the pattern of the exam and justified the way they are sequenced.
Ms Sharon focused on the application part and allowed the teachers to experience the process of exam writing through various activities. Her discussion also centered around different types of questions asked in LSRW exams. She also mentioned that the most challenging to write is reading passages and Listening section 3 and the easiest to moderate is writing.
Another significant aspect of the discussion was the examination platform that is used to conduct LEE exams. Ms Sharon exchanged the know-how of conducting exams through Moodle, which included the nitty-gritty of the examination process to have adhered during the exams.The presenters were committed to sharing videos on how to upload questions on Moodle.
The presentation was highly interactive and informative and the teachers' participation was commendable.
Dr Priya Mankara Vijayan gave an in-house presentation to the staff of the English Language center on Action Research and Its Importance on 19.4.2021 as part of an initiative taken by the Professional Development Committee at the UTAS-Ibri. The presentation was moderated by Dr Michelle I Mendoza.
Dr Priya Mankara Vijayan has a doctorate in English Language and Literature. She also holds a TESOL certificate from Trinity College, London and a post-graduate certificate in teaching English from English and Foreign Languages University, India. She has 18 years of teaching experience at college and university levels. Her research areas include ELT and Literature. Currently, she is an ELT lecturer at the ELC, UTAS, Ibri.
Action Research is one of the practical Research approaches and is gaining popularity in social sciences. A succinct definition of action is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking action. The prime objective of this presentation is to highlight the key role of action research in the education sector and ELT. It also brings to the limelight the different stages of action research and its cyclic nature. Moreover, it highlights the role of Action research in initiating actions to improve upon and bring about changes in the existing professional practices and real issues related to our field of study.
Practitioners who engage in action research indeed find it to be an empowering experience. Action research is impressively positive for many reasons. The most imperative is that action research is always pertinent to the participants. Relevance is specific because the focus of each research project is determined by the researchers, who will be the first to analyze the findings.
Perhaps even more important is the fact that action research facilitates educators to be more effective at what they care most about—their teaching and the improvement of their students. When teachers have substantial evidence that their work has indeed contributed to the lives of their students, the endless efforts exerted seem worthwhile.
The head of the center, Dr Abdulsalam Manthari appreciated the commitment of the PDC and lauded the uniqueness of the topic presented at the webinar.
On April 01, 2021, the English Language Center at UTAS-Ibri, invited teachers from across the world to join a seminar on Contemporary Strategies in ELT. The speakers of the event Ms. Hanaa Khamis from Egypt and Dr. Luciana Kinoshita Barros from Brazil, shared their views on interesting topics, which shed light on various dimensions of ELT.
Ms Hanaa Khamis demonstrated the benefits of e-portfolios to both students and teachers in her presentation titled Collect, Reflect and Assess with E-portfolios.The presentation highlighted the strengths and functionalities of e-portfolios and shared some user-friendly online tools to create them.
She defined an e-portfolio as a collection of student/teacher artifacts in the form of documents, images, audio and video. It functions as a digital repository that can record all student/teacher products or showcase their works. E-portfolios act as self-reminders and assessment tools. She also suggested that it can well be used for formative or summative assessment purposes.
Hanaa Khamis is an ESOL practitioner and TESOL trainer who has experimented with instructional technology since 1999. Currently, she is part of TESOL Gulf Board of Directors. She earned an MA in TESOL from the American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt in 2007. Her thesis focused on communication strategies among EFL university learners in online interactions. Her research and training interests mainly include pedagogy, technology and assessment.
Another speaker who graced the event was Dr.Luciana Kinoshita Barros, who spoke on one of the major components of higher education: Initial Teacher Education. Sheintroduced the audience to Initial Teacher Education in Brazil as a Higher Education component practiced at UNIFESSPA through her presentation titled Multimodal Narratives to Motivate Student-Teachers. She puts it as an experience of a public university in the Brazilian Amazon.
Dr Luciana described “Initial Teacher Education in Brazil” as a component of higher education. She stated that at UNIFESSPA, some student-teachers learn to make multimodal narratives to share their beliefs about learning to become an English as a Foreign Language teacher. They have the opportunity to reflect on their role in the learning process and learn with each other's beliefs. According to them, free expression of their beliefs seems to contribute to the students' motivation and self-awareness in the teacher education process.
Dr Abdulsalam, the head of the English Language Centre, appreciated the efforts exerted by the Professional Development Committee, who strives hard to connect the ELC staff through webinars to the ELT dynamics across the world.
Dr. Sultan Al Ghafri, a man of many achievements heads English Language Programs at the English Language Centre of UTAS –Ibri. In his presentation, he introduced his audience to a unique realm of teaching and learning replete with interesting approaches that motivate and persuade students to become active learners. A self-explanatory title, “Student Active Learning(SAL),” centered on an active learning approach that engages students in the learning process. He believes SAL is a better way to pave the way for learners to perform learning tasks independently and understand. According to him, SAL encourages students to become more responsible for their learning by giving them the opportunity to share influence with the lecturer and become more involved in teaching-learning process.
Dr. Sultan also admitted that Applying SAL approach is challenging for teachers but essential. Teachers are expected to be innovative and customize their teaching methods and make online teaching meaningful and productive.
The English Language Centre in particular and international audience at large extended appreciation and lauded the efforts of Dr Sultan for his lofty contribution.
Automatic Negative Thoughts(ANTs) can be conscious or subconscious and occur as a response to everyday actions and events. These thoughts are overwhelming, irrational, self-defeating, and may fuel social anxiety disorder.
The English language centre at UTAS- Ibri hosted a webinar titled Managing Automatic Negative Thoughts on March 18, 2021.
Sandra Stein introduced her audience to various vital concepts that aid an individual in overcoming negative automatic thoughts.
Sandra Stein holds a Master's degree in Education in Teaching English as a Second Language. She is a senior instructor at the American University of Kuwait, teaching both English and Education courses. As an educator for thirty years, Sandra has 25 years of experience working with people with learning difficulties.
Ms Sandra, in her session, focused on scientifically sound methods that help manage ANTs: The positive posture method and the four-step method designed by Dr Daniel Amen to recognize ANTs, determine the kinds of ANTs, different ways to challenge the ANTs and turn them into positive thoughts. She also mentioned the pivotal role of self-awareness and self-development in eliminating negative thoughts.The takeaway of the session was rich and informative. The tips shared were well received by the audience and they extended their heartfelt appreciation.
The English Language Centre lauded the efforts of Ms. Sandra Stein and the Professional Development Committee for sharing an informative session on ANTs.
The recent pandemic times have compelled the education sector to seek new teaching methods to instill confidence and sustain learners' interest. Dr.MobinaRahnama delivered an exciting talk on Online Motivation on 18.2.2021. The English Language Centre, UTAS-Ibri, hosted the webinar for the ELC staff.
DrMobina holds a Ph.D. degree in TEFL/TESOL and she is a researcher as well. Her writing credits include authoring many papers and a book on English language teaching and feedback. Her main areas of professional interest are feedback, teacher education and teacher development.
Dr.Mobina emphasized the dire need for meaningful lessons and a conducive learning environment for the online teaching model. She was upright enough to state that chaotic, unsupportive, meaningless classes cannot boost motivation; they nip the zeal and inner drive in the bud and make learning monotonous. She also shared five quick tips with teachers to motivate second language learners. Dr.Mobina opined that teaching English to international students is a daunting task for an English teacher and it becomes inevitable for the language teachers to double their efforts since learners may constantly resort to their native language or the official language of the country or area where they live.
She concluded her talk with a hopeful note that the opening scene of endless English chatting and discussion among our learners does not have to be a dream. When these tips are put into action, we can watch it become our reality!
The English Language centre commended the efforts of the speaker and appreciated the contribution of the passion of the Professional Development Committee team.
The professional development Committee of The English Language Centre at the UTAS-Ibri, hosted a webinar on Deconstructing Media and Decentering Perspectives: Teaching Media Literacy in the EAP Classroom.
The speaker, Professor Anastasia Jean, shared perspectives on teaching media literacy in the EAP classroom.
Professor Anastasia Khawaja (she/her) is an ESL senior instructor at INTO USF and an adjunct professor in the humanities and English departments at The University of South Florida. Her research engages with global peace education and breaks the binary understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict by exploring language use and language representation.
Professor Anastasia Jean made the audience conversant with different teaching media literacy methods for EAP (English for Academic Purposes) students. Her talk underlined the techniques of challenging students to deconstruct various media pieces from all over the world. She also explained how practicing this deconstruction can also help to decenter one side of a story and encourage students to understand multiple perspectives from intellectual and cultural standpoints.
She emphasized that the approaches mentioned are helpful in classrooms with students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
Prof Anastasia’s talk was novel and was a new platform for the interested. Her interaction with the audience was fruitful, engaging and brought many new aspects of media literacy to limelight.
The English Language Centre thanked Prof Anastasia for her commendable efforts for her interesting talk.
The English Language Centre at the UTAS-Ibri hosted a webinar titled, What About Writing?, on January, 26, 2021. Professor Stephen Krashen shared many interesting views from “ Secrets of Writing,” a paper published in Research in Language and Education: An International Journal (RiLE).
Prof Krashen has published 540 articles on a wide range of topics related to language acquisition, neurolinguistics and bilingual education. He is the most frequently cited scholar in the field of language education. Many of his publications are available for free download at sd.krashen.com and some of them are posted on ResearchGate. He is best known for the Comprehension Hypothesis, which states that one cannot acquire language by speaking or writing or by studying grammar rules but by comprehensible input, that is, through listening and reading.
He shared various secrets of writing with the language teachers. He confessed that he owes the wisdom he retains, to the great writers like Peter Elbow, Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Simon, Ernest Hemingway, Irving Wallace, Robert Boice and many others. He expressed his interest in sharing his wisdom with a profound belief that it will contribute to the knowledge base in Research in Language and Education.
Some of his research-based observations like more writing will not result in better writing form; writing form results from reading, writing can help us solve problems and make us smarter revision is the core of “the composing process;” recognizing that something is wrong is the invitation to revision and progress. Encourage incubation. : Daily regular writing, which means daily regular blocks and progress, made the audience ponder their teaching styles and methods.
The speaker believed that those who read more, write better, spell better, have larger vocabularies, better grammar and more acceptable writing style. He was of the profound belief that writing made people smarter and mentioned that revising should be given utmost importance as it forms the core of the composing process.
He highlighted the importance of encouraging incubation and was in line with Wallas and Poincare that incubation requires “ the working of the subconscious mind” and explained how creativity results from engaging in the composing process and progress. He labelled the different phases as: write, block, break/incubate/dissolve block, and then write some more and run into more blocks.
Prof.Krashen concluded with a thought-provoking observation that stated that the “regular” aspect of daily writing is a good writer's secret. He responded to many interesting queries and appreciated the interest showed by the audience.
The ELC staff was thankful to Professor Krashen for introducing them to the secrets of writing and were expressed their interest in knowing more.
The ELC head of Centre appreciated the efforts of Professional Development Committee for organizing the event that had many takaways for the ELC staff.