Workshops Abroad Stimulate Communications Skills Program
In the past few years members of the English Department's Communication Skills Program have been making their mark from Dubai to Athens, from Seville to Brighton at conferences for teachers of English as a foreign language.
In mid-March 2001 Rima Shadid and Ahmad Awdeh presented papers at conferences in Greece and Dubai respectively. At the end of March and the beginning of April three instructors, Suad Araj, Malekeh Khoury, and Katia Peltekian participated in the TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) 2001 Conference in Seville, Spain. From April 17 to 23, four instructors, Lina Karkanawi, Khadija Lakkis, Reem Rashash, and Communication Skills Program Coordinator Nina Shalhoub-Khoury attended the IATEFL (the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) Conference in Brighton, England: Karkanawi attended the conference at her own expense; the other three, presenting papers, were supported by faculty development funding.
This wide participation in regional and international conferences marks the beginning of a new period of enrichment for the University's basic language program instructors. During the war years, most language instructors were often unable to get out of the country. They felt themselves particularly cut off from state-of-the-art developments in language teaching.
Since foreign experts found it difficult to get into Lebanon, during the later war and early post-war years from 1987-95, language experts from the United States and language instructors from AUB met in Cyprus for TEFL workshops arranged by the English Department and the Dean's Office of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In this way, AUB instructors were able to work closely with American experts.
After 1995 opportunities for language teachers to travel abroad increased, as Faculty Development grants were extended to include AUB faculty of the rank of instructor as well as professors. Although most funding is contingent upon delivery of papers, some key language coordinators have obtained grants simply to attend international conferences.
According to Kassim Shaaban, chair of the English Department and director of the Center for English Language Research and Teaching, the administration is opening up new possibilities for faculty development for language instructors. "This year they have not said no to anyone," he stated.