Dr. Victoria Tuzlukova, an English Faculty at the Center for Preparatory Studies, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, was invited to conduct a research seminar for the ELC staff at UTAS-Salalah on June 16, 2022.
The seminar dwelt on the new trends in ELT and ELT research, and the guest speaker explained the ways where research can be done in the new areas of ELT. Around 45 participants attended the seminar, and all their queries related to the topic were addressed.
Ms. Khayar Al Amri, HOS-CTM, in her introductory remarks, extended her warm welcome to Dr. Victoria on behalf of Mr. Saeed Al Mashiki, HOC, ELC. She also encouraged the ELC staff to identify the most recent trends in ELT and conduct research on unexplored areas.
The seminar ended with the concluding remarks by Dr. Yasir Al Yafaie, ELC Post Foundation Coordinator. In his valedictory remarks, he pointed out the dire need to focus on advanced research that may strengthen the research-teaching nexus.
The seminar was organized by the ELC Research & Consultancy Committee headed by Dr. Aju Thomas in an effort to keep the teachers abreast with new trends in ELT.
A seminar-cum-workshop on “Pursuing Linguistic Research beyond ELT” was conducted for the ELC staff on the 14th of June, 2022 by Dr. Faqir Aslam Rana, ELC Lecturer.
He explained the ways to expand linguistic research out of the very field of English Language Teaching. The obstacles that may arise while expanding the research out of ELT and the strategies to overcome such challenges were dealt with in detail by the presenter.
Meanwhile, Mr. Salim Al Mashani, HoS-Programs welcomed Dr. Rana on behalf of the HOC Mr. Saeed Al-Mashiki. Mr. AL Mashani in his introductory remarks pointed out the need to focus on engaging in productive and fruitful research and wished success to all the ELC researchers for their contributions to research.
Dr. Yasir Al Yafaei, in his valedictory remarks, encouraged the participants to think beyond the core topics in ELT and conduct research based on the current trends in applied linguistics.
Dr. Aju Thomas, Coordinator, R&C Committee, ELC, thanked the participants for attending the said seminar-cum-workshop.
The English Language Center culminated the academic year 2021-2022 with a bang by holding the ELC Day themed “Aiming for the Stars” in the Multi-purpose Hall, UTAS-Salalah on May 23, 2022.
The event kicked off with the cutting of ribbon and opening ceremony. In his welcome message, Mr. Saeed Salim Al-Mashiki, the Head of ELC, acknowledged and thanked the Dean, Dr. Mohammed Rashid Al-Mamari, for gracing the ELC Day as the Patron. The HoC also expressed his gratitude to the organizing committee for pulling off the event, and to UTAS-Salallah staff and students for sharing the momentous event with the ELC.
The next activity showcased students’ presentations on Cyber Security by Abdullah Al-Mashani, Cryptocurrency by Asma Sulaiman, and Negative Effects of Social Media on Beauty Standards by Manwah Bait Matran.
Another highlight of the event was the ELC Achievements in 2022. Ms. Dhahab Hubais presented infographics about the accomplishments of the ELC Magazine, Writing Center, Research and Consultancy Committee, Staff Professional Development Program, and ELC Clubs.
Energizing the audience was the conduct of competitions hosted by Dr. Razia Khan, Ms. Zeentah Shaik, and Mr. Jogie George. Kahoot and Story Telling were participated in by staff and students, Spelling Bee by students, while Word Building by staff.
Art contest and exhibition was the fourth activity. It was an individual work for students using various type of art such as watercolor art, painting art, pencil art, charcoal art, and mirage art. The first prize was bagged by Muna Al Shanfari.
Thereafter, Ms. Rio Asada presented a workshop on Origami, highlighting Japanese art, Origami techniques in modern space engineering, and demonstration in making paper cranes. She was assisted by her students, namely, Ayaj Jaboob and Qies Riyad Sloulin.
The main highlight of the event was the Cultural Show directed by Ms. Rachel Joseph and Ms. Racquel Barth. Seventeen countries from the ELC were presented by select staff to flaunt their respective cultures. These included Oman, England, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Armenia, France, USA, Yemen, Jordan, Tunisia, Japan, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt, India, and South Africa.
Awards ceremony for staff and students was the final part of the event hosted by Ms. Mariam Al Sabbah. Awards were based on the following categories: ELC Management Support Team, 4th ELT Symposium, Staff Professional Development Program, ELC Magazine, Writing Center, E-Learning, Research and Consultancy, ELC Clubs, EJADA, GFP Induction, ELC Day, ETC Technical Support, ELC Security Guards, Photography Winners, and Art Winners, Participants, & Judges.
To celebrate that another ELC milestone, staff, students, and guests had lunch together in the Self-Access Center.
Levels 1 and 2 students from the General Foundation Program got overwhelmed with excitement as they watched the movie The Italian Job on March 31, 2022.
Organized by the ELC Club, the movie day aimed at making learning English more entertaining and at helping students properly express themselves and understand society. Separate classrooms for male and female were used during the movie day.
Ms. Mariam Al-Sabbah, the ELC Club Coordinator, believed that GFP students deserve a reward after studying hard for the mid-term examination. Popcorns, nachos, and cold beverages were served while students were watching the movie.
According to students, witnessing a film in the ELC was a totally different learning experience and they are looking forward to more interesting and fun English movies in the class.
The ELC Club is planning to have a real cinema experience for UTAS-Salalah students by holding it in a bigger venue like the Multi-Purpose Hall in June 2022.
The English Language Center showcased an exhibition of students’ photographs on the theme My Oman My Pride, as a culminating event of the ELC Photography Club.
Sixty-eight photo entries from students were displayed in the hallway of the ELC new building on March 30, 2022. The photographs included Oman’s natural scenic spots, traditional Omani clothing, Omani children, and animals found in Oman.
Winners of the exhibited photos were selected by popular voting. Winners will be given prizes while participants will receive certificates of appreciation at an award ceremony to be held later.
The event was organized by Ms. Mariam Al Sabbah (ELC Club Coordinator) and Mr. Jogi George (Photography Club Coordinator), and it was inaugurated by Mr. Saeed Al Mashiki (HoC-ELC).
In an effort to familiarize students with Toastmasters International, the ELC Club, the main student organization of the English Language Center, UTAS-Salalah, organized a workshop in the Self-Access Center on March 28, 2022.
Ms. Amal Al Balushi and Mr. Musallam Al Kathiri, the guest speakers from the Toastmasters International –Salalah Chapter, shared information to the students about the organization, the merits of joining it, and the membership fee. Using English and Arabic, the speakers explained how the Toastmasters club has helped them become more confident communicators, public speakers, and leaders, and how they have gained the skills needed to achieve both their professional and personal goals.
When the floor was open for clarifications, some teachers asked content-related questions while volunteer staff and students participated in the ice-breaking activities.
Mr. Saeed Al-Mashiki, the Head of ELC, appreciated the initiatives of the ELC Club chaired by Ms. Marriam Al Sabbah and he assured the support of the Center in all student activities. He also thanked the Dean and the Assistant Deans for coming over in the workshop.
The ELC has its own Toastmasters Club, which is open for bonafide students from the General Foundation Program and the Post-Foundation Program at UTAS-Salalah.
The fourth ELT symposium on Current and Future Trends in ELT, organized and hosted by the English Language Center (ELC) at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences (UTAS) – Salalah on March 17, 2022 via Zoom platform, was designed to address the challenges and changes that have dramatically impacted the institutional landscape of English Language Teaching (ELT) in recent times.
The symposium began with a brief introduction by Ms. Muna Salim Kashoob, the chair of the symposium organizing committee. She articulated the committee’s commitment in providing continuous support and professional development opportunities for the ELC staff, including interactions with other academics across Oman.
The Head of ELC at UTAS-Salalah formally welcomed the attendees of the symposium. In his opening remarks, Mr. Saeed Salim Al-Mashiki urged them to endeavor in keeping abreast of the current and future trends in ELT and in addressing the challenges and repercussions brought by the global pandemic. He also thanked the Vice Chancellor (VC) of UTAS for honouring the event, and the symposium partners, namely, the National Geographic Learning, Galfar Gases, and Labelle for extending their support.
Gracing as the Patron of the symposium was the VC of UTAS, His Excellency Dr. Saeed Bin Hamad Al-Rubaie, who spelled out the University’s responsiveness, resilience, and compliance in ensuring that the core work of teaching and learning across UTAS campuses is undiminished. The VC expressed his appreciation to the management and the staff of UTAS-Salalah, in particular, for their continuous efforts in helping the University achieve greater heights of success.
The first keynote speaker was Dr. Ali Al-Bulushi, who elucidated the topic Empowering Language Teachers as Reflective and Transformative Intellectuals: Teachers Creating their Own Theory of Practice. He is the current Director of the Centre for Community Service and Continuing Education at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman.
Dr. Peter Watkins from the University of Portsmouth, UK, was the second keynote speaker on the topic Five Ways to Improve the Teaching of Reading. Among his renowned publications are Teaching and Developing Reading Skills (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Extensive Reading in ELT: Why and How? & Extensive Reading for Primary in ELT (both Cambridge University Press, 2018), and Learning to Teach English (Delta Publishing, second edition 2014, first edition 2005).
The third keynote speaker was Mr. Alex Warren from the National Geographic Learning whose topic dwelt on Visible Thinking Routines in the English Language Classroom. He is s a DELTA trained teacher trainer with over 15 years’ experience of working in ELT as a teacher, academic director and teacher trainer.
Engaging Students through Shared Classroom Decision-Making – How can it be Done? was the last keynote topic presented by Dr. Andrew Littlejohn, an Associate Professor of Language Education and Deputy Dean (Research) at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. He has spoken at numerous international conferences as an invited plenary speaker.
Other highlights of the symposium included five paper presentations and one workshop by select academic staff from prestigious higher education institutions across Oman. Done in concurrent sessions, the paper presenters were Dr. Zainab Al Balushi (SQU) on Mapping out the Paths to Teaching Social Responsibility in the Context of ESP; Dr. Yasir Alyafaei (UTAS-Salalah) on Affordances of Online Collaboration on Students’ Writing Performance and Revision Behaviours; Ms. We’a Al Jilani (UTAS-Salalah) on Integration of Technology in the EFL Classes to Teach Past Tense; Dr. Moza Al-Malki and Dr. Yaqoob Al Ghatrifi (UTAS-Rustaq) on The Use of Problem Solving at Cycle 2 English Classroom; and Dr. Jamila al Siyabi (SQU) on Responding to Special Needs in ELT: Challenges and Opportunities. Mr. Abduall Al Hashmi (UTAS-Nizwa) and Mr. Salah Al-Hanshi (SQU) collaboratively presented a workshop on Transforming Learning and Teaching Experience through RoznaHub.
The keynote speeches, paper presentations, and workshop made gleaning essentials to the following recommendations to help set the future directions of ELT across Oman.
1) Developing the current curriculum is needed to support the teaching and learning process.
Dr. Littlejohn stressed that engaging students through shared classroom decision-making is not easy but he concluded that teacher’s role to guide, question, give ideas, and support is vital. The research of Dr. Al Malki and Dr. Al-Ghatrify’s also divulged that critical thinking and problem solving skills are acknowledged as the most important competencies required in the 21st century and that teachers are responsible for adapting the activities to support the learning process. This harmonizes with what Dr. Al Balushi stated that a teacher should question the goals and values that guide his /her work, the context in which s/he teachers, examines his/her assumptions. He believed that HEIs in Oman should promote language teachers as transformative intellectuals. Ms. Al Balushi’s paper was correlated to the aforementioned findings. The integration and implementation of social responsibility as a 21st century skill was found to be important to support Omani students’ development and enhancement of their skills in ESP courses.
2) Extensive reading has more benefits than intensive reading
Dr. Watkins’s talk showed evidence that extensive reading (ER) has benefits beyond just developing fluent reading skills. As such, he suggested practical ways in which learners can be encouraged to engage more with reading programs and therefore gain the rich rewards that reading offers.
3) Using different routines and activities is important to enrich EFL classroom.
Mr. Warren shed light on new ideas and activities that teachers can incorporate into classrooms to enrich students’ learning experience, such as: See-Think-Wonder, The Three Whys, Think-Puzzle-Explore, Question Starts, KWL, Stop, Think, Discuss, and The 4 Cs.
4) Integrating technology in EFL classroom is essential.
Based on Dr. Al-Yafaei’s research, teachers play a crucial role in shaping students’ collaboration during the online collaborative activity. In the same theme, Ms. Al-Jilani’s paper revealed that integrating movies to teach the simple past tense played an effective role in improving students’ grammar competency. Similary, Mr. Al-Hashmi and Mr. Al-hanshi’s workshop demonstrated how teaching and learning experience can be transferred through the “Rozna Hub” app. In like manner, Dr. Al Siyabi’s paper disclosed that assistive technologies are crucial to language learning of special needs students and that innovations in education and technology can be effectively used to shift practices and perspectives of ELT in the context of Oman to being universally accessible, equally usable, more inclusive and tailored to students’ individual needs.
Meanwhile, Ms. Huda Al-Huraibi, the co-chair of symposium organizing committee, closed the event by thanking the UTAS-Salalah administration under the deanship of Dr. Mohammed Rashid Almamari, the ELC administration headed by Mr. Saeed Al-Mashiki, the keynote speakers, the presenters, and the participants from across Oman for contributing to the success of the 4th ELT symposium, which is yet another milestone for the ELC.
The ELC staff is now looking forward to next year’s event with several implications of this year’s symposium being highlighted. Calls came for a centralized location for future ELT conferences for all the UTAS colleges. Salalah itself would be an ideal hub for this event in the months of the ‘khareef’ season. One potential venue identified was the Sultan Qaboos Youth and Cultural Complex in Salalah as it has all the infrastructure necessary for a conference.
The English Language Center welcomed the new academic year with its formal launching of the Writing Center Mini Workshop Series for students in the General Foundation and Post-Foundation Programs. More than 100 students participated in the two workshops held last March 7 and 9, 2022 at the Self-Access Center (SAC). The workshops were organized by Mr. Randy Magdaluyo, Writing Center Coordinator, and Ms. Atsloom Al-Maashani, Assistant Coordinator, together with all the writing tutors, namely Ediphil Sibanda, Helen Jemima, Racquel Barth, Steleen Pramod, Zeenath Shaik, Dr. Mohammed Al-Raimi, Rachel Joseph, and Rio Asada.
The ELC Writing Center continuously commits to further enhance students’ language skills. Mr. Saeed Al-Mashiki, Head of the ELC, stressed the important role of the Writing Center as one of ELC banner programs in developing students to become critical, creative and independent English language learners.
The first workshop on instructional writing was delivered by Ms. Racquel Barth, a level 2 lecturer. She highlighted the important words and techniques to guide students in writing a step by step instruction. Students watched an instructional video on how to make noodles and discussed in their small groups the different steps they observed after watching. Then, they practiced writing an instructional paragraph with topic and concluding sentences using the action verbs and transition words taught in the workshop. Some students also received prizes for their active participation.
Mr. Ediphil Sibanda, a level 1 lecturer conducted the next workshop on vocabulary development strategies. He emphasized the importance of building one’s vocabulary through the 4-step approach, namely read, learn, record and use. This simple approach teaches students (1) how to choose the materials to read; (2) how to learn new words using the dictionaries and context clues; (3) how to record these new words with other related words; and (4) how to use them in different forms of writing or language activities. Students participated in an interactive vocabulary exercise in their small groups by doing a short reading and practicing the 4-step approach to learn important words from their Pathways books.
The workshops culminated with students completing the feedback forms. The Writing Center thanked all the participants and invited them to the next workshops scheduled this semester.
The Student Induction Committee of the English Language Center (ELC) organized an Induction Program for the new intake of students for the spring semester of the academic year 2021-2022. The program was conducted on 15 February, 2022. Keeping in view the guidelines of the Supreme Committee to curb the spread of the Covid-19, a blended method was used to address about 400 students live via the Teams’ platform. The speakers delivered their presentations from the Dean’s Conference Room, while the students, divided in 15 groups, along with teachers, participated from their respective classrooms.
Ms. Khayar Al-Mamari (HoS-CTM), representing the Head of English Language Center, opened the induction session. She welcomed the new students and encouraged them to take active part in the learning activities. She informed the students that they have the opportunity to learn from a team of well-qualified and experienced lecturers coming from various cultural backgrounds. She assured them of the full support from the staff and management of the ELC in realizing their dreams of getting a quality education.
Ms. Kamla Koofan, Ms. Amal Alawadi and Mr. Khalid Al-Ghafri explained various points for the new students. Ms. Koofan illustrated the mission, vision, goals and the graduate attitudes of the University of Technology and Applied Sciences for the audience. After her, Ms. Al-Awadi took the steering wheel and discussed the points related to the teaching and learning process in the ELC. She clarified the assessment schemes of the English, Math and IT courses, and highlighted the required grades to qualify the General Foundation Program and move onward to their respective specializations. Furthermore, she provided the students with the importance of utilizing the SAC and E-learning for the students' learning process. She also provided them the E-Learning login information and instructions for registering courses on the CIMS platform.
At the end, Mr. Khalid Al-Ghafri talked about the University policies, dress code, and maintaining discipline inside and outside the classroom. He also explained the role of the Grievance Committee about how it helps the students in case they have problems during their educational life in the center. He detailed the attendance and examination policies as well.
The Induction program was successfully organized by Dr. Rana Aslam (Coordinator Students’ Induction Committee) under the leadership of Mr. Saeed Al-Mashiki (HELC).
The English Language Center had its semester-wise staff meeting on the 8th of February, 2022 at the Self Access Center. Mr. Saeed Al Mashiki, the Head of the English Language Center greeted all the ELC staff and wished them a successful semester at the outset of the meeting.
He extended a warm welcome to all the new staff who had recently joined the ELC. He also elaborated on student and staff statistics, ELC Staff Breakdown and Teaching Load, EJADA Platform, Staff Leave policies and procedures, Inter-Departmental Competition, and 4th ELT Virtual Symposium during the meeting.
The details regarding the TRC Block Funding Cycle, the different types of TRC Grants, Research Proposal Submissions, and important deadlines were shared during the meeting. The ELC staff were also encouraged to engage in fruitful research that is beneficial to the country.
Mr. Saeed Al Mashiki expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all the staff for their contributions and services in various capacities to the center amidst the Covid 19 pandemic.
A webinar on “Publishing Research Papers in the Journals” was conducted for the ELC staff on the 27th of December, 2021 by Dr. Yasir Al Yafaei, an ELC lecturer.
Dr. Al Yafaei explained the ways to publish research papers in different journals, the process of finding good journals for publishing papers, the challenges that may come during the whole process of publication, and the ways to overcome such challenges.
Mr. Saeed Al Mashiki, HoC-ELC, encouraged the staff to engage in fruitful research by focusing on the different aspects of English Language Teaching. He thanked Dr. Aju Thomas and other members of the Research and Consultancy Committee for organizing the said webinar.
The Staff Professional Development (SPD) committee of the English Language Center at UTAS-Salalah provided a number of opportunities for the academic staff to reach their full potential professionally and personally by having organized four webinars and one in-person workshop during the first semester of Academic Year 2021-2022.
The first SPD webinar focused on the challenges faced by the ELT teachers during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was presented by Mrs. Manal Alabsy, an ELC lecturer, to around 40 participants on October 12, 2021.
The second webinar was delivered by Dr.Reynolds, a guest speaker from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, last November 8, 2021. The webinar shed light on the techniques in increasing students’ engagement with their learning, such as foregrounding “metalanguage” about learning in the class, asking students to complete “exit tickets” after each class, and incorporating tasks that require reflection.
The third SPD program was an in-person workshop on team building. It was conducted by Mr. Edward Stallard, an ELC lecturer, in the Self-Access Center on November 30, 2021. It was an interactive workshop about the essential skills in creating a team. Participants were asked to build towers, which were judged according to their height, aesthetics, and strength.
“Corpus Linguistics” was the fourth webinar. Dr. Niall Curry from Coventry University in the UK talked about what is corpus linguistics and how can it help with English language teaching and learning. About 50 participants joined the said webinar on December 1, 2021.
The last webinar was presented by Mr. Salim Al-Mashani, the HoS-English Language Program, on December 13, 2021. He talked about the essence of leadership, types of leadership, and attributes of leaders. He highlighted the important roles of leaders in the higher education sector.
The ELC administration, headed by Mr. Saeed Al-Mashiki, commended the SPD committee, which is chaired by Ms. Muna Kashoob, for its continuous efforts in organizing webinars, workshop, and other training programs for the ELC staff.
Preparations for the 4th annual ELT symposium are underway. The event will be participated by academics and researchers across the Sultanate of Oman on March 17, 2022.
Since the global outbreak of Covid-19, the English Language Center has been conducting its induction program online for new students of the General Foundation Program. Last October 5, 2021, however, the ELC managed to convene around 320 students in the Multi-purpose Hall to familiarize them with academic procedures, learning platforms and resources, policies, as well as the culture and norms at UTAS-Salalah.
Mr. Saeed Salim Al-Mashiki, the Head of ELC, delivered the welcome message. He gave a bird’s-eye view of the ELC structure and the comprehensive training program offered by the ELC prior to students’ admission to the Post-Foundation Program. He stressed the role of the Center in honing students’ language skills that are vital for specialized programs.
In addition, Ms. Samha Al Mashali, the Level 1 Coordinator, explained the GFP-English Course Assessment, Delivery Plan, class schedule, and learning resources. She also discussed the curriculum and rules in GFP Math and IT.
The third speaker Ms. Amal Alwadi, a member of the Induction Committee, presented the University Vision, Mission, Goals, and Graduate Attributes. Also, she demonstrated how to use the Moodle/ E-learning platform, the CIMS, and the University email to access information and announcements.
Finally, Mr. Khalid Al-Ghafri a member of the Grievance Committee, enlightened the students about University policies on student discipline, student appeal, student feedback, student grievances, and plagiarism.
The success of the induction program was attributed to the attendees’ adherence to safety measures against Coronavirus and to the University Administration for preparing the hall.