The Foundation Program (FP) held its first international conference on English language teaching (QU FP ICELT) -- Excellence in Teaching and Knowledge Economy: Engage, Enhance and Activate -- on January 16-17.
The forum which was co-organized with Qatar TESOL brought together around 600 educators, teachers, experts and researchers from Qatar, the GCC and internationally, to discuss existing and emerging developments in English Language learning strategies and practices.
A pre-conference event by Qatar TESOL on Friday included 3 plenary sessions, an invited colloquium on “Second language writing development: Research and classroom applications” featuring presentations from academics from Zayed University, King Saud University, and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. It also included a session with featured speakers from QU, UAE University and Al Bayan Educational Complex for Girls as well as 6 panel and concurrent sessions on topics such as Teaching Young Learners, Testing and Assessment, Language Skills and Creativity, Education Technology, and more.
The ICELT was officially inaugurated on Saturday by QU President Dr Hassan Rashid Al Derham and featured keynote speakers University of Hong Kong emeritus professor of applied linguistics, Anaheim University president emeritus, and well-known author of ELT textbooks Dr David Nunan, and senior lecturer at University of Hong Kong Center for Applied English Studies Dr Lillian Wong. Also present were QU VP and Chief Academic Officer Dr Mazen Hasna, TESOL President-Elect Dr Dudley Reynolds, FP director Dr Maha Al-Hendawi, and FP faculty.
In his welcome remarks, Dr Al Derham said: “The knowledge and experience that local and international speakers bring with them will undoubtedly enrich our discussions today in that it will provide us with a more redefined, international and intercultural perspective on the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language”.
He added: “The significance of this conference extends beyond our immediate classroom and also has implications for our wider society. It should be stressed that Human Development is a pillar of Qatar’s National Vision 2030. In this sense, what will be discussed here today relates to the bigger picture of improving educational outcomes and our education system. This, in turn, will contribute to the ultimate goal of building a successful, prosperous, and sustainable society”.
In his remarks in which he thanked QU for its continuous efforts on ELT, Dr Reynolds stressed the importance of the conference and lauded the developments in Qatar in all sectors. He went on to outline the mission of TESOL International and later invited conference participants to attend the TESOL 2016 International Convention & English Language Expo which will be held in Baltimore USA on April 5-8.
Commenting on the conference, Dr Al-Hendawi said: “The agenda of the conference comprises a variety of topics related to excellence in teaching English and its role in building a knowledge-based economy. We hope that faculty members within QU benefit from the discussions and recommendations which will serve our students and improve the teaching process within Foundation Program”. She also stressed the need for teachers to seek new ways of engaging learners in the classroom because “English is an important tool for professional development”. Dr Al-Hendawi commended the FP staff and conference organizing committee for their hard work and contribution to making the conference a success.
The conference sessions included a writing colloquium. and plenary and concurrent sessions under the themes “issues and Challenges in Integrated Syllabus Design”, and “Towards a globalized knowledge economy: Engaging, enhancing and empowering learners with information technology. Presentations were delivered by academics from QU, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Poland, UK, US, and Saudi Arabia.
Joining experts from schools and universities were several from organizations such as Supreme Education Council, British Council Qatar, Royal Air Force, Oman, Center for Exam Services, NM Consulting Inc, Pearson TQ Education and Training, Diglossia, and English Central, and exhibitors from established publishing houses such as National Geographic Learning and Express Publishing.