English Communication Skills Instructors Contribute to a Wide Variety of Workshops
Ahmad Awdeh (AUB MA in TEFL), a long time Communication Skills instructor, attended the Seventh International Conference of TESOL Arabia, "Challenges in the New Millennium" in Dubai from March 14 to 16. A firm believer in the importance of vocabulary teaching, Awdeh presented a paper entitled "Moving Beyond the Course Syllabus Vocabulary," aimed at facilitating English vocabulary acquisition, especially for students with little background in European languages.
Rima Shadid, holder of an AUB MA in English literature, who has been teaching the basic communication skills courses, business and technical English, and creative writing since the early '80s, attended the Twenty-Second Annual TESOL Greece Convention, "The Power of Language," from March 10 to 11 in Athens. In her paper, "Communication--the Essence of Interaction," she stressed the need for good communication techniques to promote goodwill, a primary element of successful communication.
Suad Araj, the holder an MA in education from the University of Toledo in Ohio, joined AUB in 1992 after much language teaching experience at Kuwait, Bir Zeit, West Bank Jordan, and Bethlehem Universities. In her workshop presentation, "Strategies and Practical Issues in Teaching Listening Comprehension," she emphasized teacher development of original materials for the classroom.
Malekeh Khoury, an AUB MA in TEFL, has been teaching and coordinating a variety of English language courses in creative writing, academic business, and technical English at AUB since 1986. In Seville her poster presentation tackled the problem of offering students feedback for their writing which can provide them with self-confidence and control over their work. Ms. Khoury hopes to make teachers think twice about the authoritarian approach of red ink defacement of student papers.
Katia Peltekian, an AUB MA in English literature, who has presented papers at workshops and conferences in Lebanon, Jordan, and Europe and is involved in teacher training, has been teaching English language at AUB in both the University Orientation Program and the English Department since 1987. In Seville she conducted a workshop for teachers, using video clips and lyrics of pop songs designed to give teachers "tried and tested activities to work with words, music, and pictures to teach the different language skills."
At the IA TEFL conference in Brighton, Nina Shalhoub-Khoury's workshop for teachers, "Developing Writing Skills in Young EFL Learners," focused on motivating young pupils. From such conferences, Shalhoub-Khoury said, AUB instructors can bring back new ideas to the Communications Skills Program, particularly in the area of computer courses and computer labs.
Khadija Lakkis gave a poster presentation, "Black and White in Arabic Proverbs vs. Multi-Colored Proverbs," a comparative study of Arabic and English proverbs, underscoring the role of cultural differences in language teaching.
Reem Rashash, was a teacher in and then Director of the University Orientation Program for two years before it was absorbed into the English Department. The co-author of several language teaching texts and a writer of the new Lebanese curriculum. She directed her workshop, "Don't Throw It in the Trash! Use It in Class!" toward disadvantaged teachers without ready access to information technology.
All the AUB presenters stressed the benefits of attending such conferences: benefits for AUB, for themselves, and for their students. Participation in conferences by Communication Skills instructors puts AUB's name on the TESOL map. Several of the instructors who attended conferences this year stressed the importance of professional reinvigoration, of self-renewal, and of building self-confidence.
All found sharing teaching experience invaluable. Araj pointed out that benefits for professional enrichment include "meeting many different language teachers from many different places." Attending a variety of presentations provides the teacher with a variety of information to adapt to his/her classes, and the many book and language materials exhibitions expand professional horizons. Sharing materials and techniques with language teachers worldwide provides new bases for evaluation of "what works and what doesn't work," Shalhoub-Khoury stated. Peltekian agreed on the importance of contacts with other language professionals. We need "corroboration" of our own work, she said. "We feel so isolated at AUB."
Almost all the AUB participants noted lectures given by distinguished plenary speakers were the highlights of their conference experience.