Language is a living thing. It changes with time. Especially with globalistion, it is becoming more and more neutralised. Therefore, the focus is increasingly being placed on comprehension and understanding.
When it comes to the English language, it is a very important language because it is one of the main medium to communicate and interact with each other internationally. English language has become the most important language for people in many parts of the world, and it is playing a major role in many sectors like education, medicine, engineering and business.
The Foundation Program Department of English is committed to developing students’ English language proficiency to a level that will allow them to succeed in the academic programmes of Qatar University.
Through innovative, research-based educational practices, the programme aims to help students achieve academic readiness by fostering their intellectual curiosity. As they develop their knowledge through study skills and critical thinking, students will integrate independent and collaborative learning with the appropriate use of information technology.
The department is all set to organise the 4th Annual International Conference and Exhibition titled ‘Critical Thinking in Language Curriculum for The 21st Century’. The two-day-long conference will take place on December 14 and 15. The conference has become a significant event when it comes to learning English in Qatar.
Community recently interacted with the management committee of the conference and discussed how significant the conference will be in learning and teaching English. The committee members are namely: Mohammad Manasreh, Head of Department; Okon Effiong, Lecturer of English and Conference Committee Chair; Sara Salmeh, Engagement and Communications Specialist; Jessica Westbrook, Lecturer of English and Lead for Program Administration; and Andrew Imrie, Lecturer of English.
Explaining the objectives of the conference, Mohammad Manasreh said: “The objective of the conference is to share knowledge and network. We have a variety of topics under one main theme that is ‘Critical thinking in Language and Curriculum Development in the 21st Century. We have 400 to 500 delegates to attend the conference.”
Andrew Imrie said: “Through the conference, we try to reach out to the wider community. It is not just teachers working at the university level. It is also for high school teachers in Qatar. We have noticed that over the past years, the conference has been very popular among the teaching community and we would like to build on that.”
Okon Effiong said: “The conference keeps growing. The teachers from secondary and primary levels get an opportunity to develop professionally. It remains a meeting point for English language teachers in the country. We have opened up to the delegates from outside Qatar. We have presenters from Oman, Kuwait, UK, India, and Pakistan and even from Malaysia. It is quite international in nature.”
Jessica Westbrook said: “The conference is seen as a great opportunity for teachers over the years to attend several sessions in a row. It has a lot of practical teaching tips as well as research. There is something for everyone.”
In response to a question about how the conference has been bringing in new topics, Mohammad Manasreh said: “The themes continue to change. There are a variety of options. Every year we try to address certain themes that we feel are needed and that are going to benefit the attendees. This year we are discussing curriculum development because we feel that it is going through change in educational institutions. In the foundation programme, we always try to improve our curriculum. Hopefully, this conference will provide insights to the educators intended the conference when how to best implement their curriculum change policies and projects.”
Okon Effiong said: “We liaison with the Ministry of Education to know what their teachers actually need. They do need analysis and provide us with the information.”
When asked how the international conference copes with people from diverse backgrounds, Jessica Westbrook said: “There is something for everybody in this conference. What makes it unique is that a lot of presenters come from this context. They can find and address the needs that they have. The wonderful thing is that it is in their context. Event presenters from Qatar are coming from diverse backgrounds.”
Okon Effiong said: “We want to make the conference very inclusive. In addition to the main theme, we also have sub-themes which definite areas of different interests.”
Mohammad Manasreh said: “Even the conference organisers come from different backgrounds and so are the attendees. On top of that, we will have the exhibitors who come from different publishing houses. The publishers are very cultural sensitive. They study the local context before they provide the material for the market. We also have teachers from 30 different nationalities in the department.”
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