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19-02-2014

TESOL Arabia’s Western Region Chapter Glows with New Life

Saturday February 8, 2014 will be a day to remember for English teachers and educators across the Western Region of the Abu Dhabi Emirate.

After several months of change, the TESOL Arabia Western Region Chapter came back with a spring in its step. Led by the Vice President and President elect of TESOL Arabia, Dr Melanie Gobert and supported by Dr Sufian Abu-Rmaileh, the Executive Treasurer and Fathi Ben Mohamed, the Abu Dhabi Chapter Representative; more than 30 delegates and presenters spent the morning in a relaxed, workshop-style setting,  sharing their experiences and knowledge of teaching.TESOL 2
Dr Melanie and Dr Sufian welcomed attendees and explained the advantages of TESOL Arabia membership which range from inexpensive access to the Annual Conference and pre-conference workshops, subscription to the Perspectives magazine and study and travel grants.

Those in attendance were reminded of the past success of the Western Region chapter under the leadership of Mohamed Azaza, where meetings frequently attracted more than one hundred delegates. Everyone present agreed, through advertising and networking, to ensure that the Chapter’s vision of providing valuable professional development opportunities was communicated to educators across the region so that a new period of success could be entered upon.

Dr Melanie Gobert kicked off the morning with a fun workshop on life-size Scrabble for the ESL/EFL classroom. Delegates had a hands-on chance to see how this activity can advance learners’ vocabulary, spelling and their knowledge of prefixes and suffixes in English words. Dr Sufian followed this up with a frank presentation on classroom discipline, indicating the key causes and offering some practical solutions.TESOL 1
After a short coffee break Bill Phalon took up the topic of discipline, looking at it from a different angle by administering a survey of teacher responses to classroom management scenarios which characterised the approach of each delegate as a Taskmaster, Manager, Coach or Pal. Bill argued that whatever approach a teacher might take, the key facilitator of classroom management is a curriculum that matches student development with appropriate content and tasks.

In subsequent concurrent sessions Azzeddine Bencherab presented and ran a practical workshop on storytelling, showing how applying elements of an oral tradition can enhance language learning in new and fruitful ways. Simultaneously, Wade Muncil presented his experiences of building bridges between the classroom and society through teaching a community service course. He showed how involvement with local social issues not only led to deep learning but also provided real world practical solutions and developed good citizenship.

Before lunch Mohamed Azaza presented on the importance of teachers being aware of their Emotional Intelligence (EI). He showed how EI goes beyond merely perceiving and regulating emotions to becoming a tool for generating emotional states that facilitate learning. Simultaneously, Julie Riddlebarger illustrated and demonstrated the use of story bags with young learners. These containers full of books and materials encourage children to engage with literacy in a fun way and have been a great success around the world. Although proprietary story bags are available they can also be produced quite easily by the teacher and even the students themselves.

Over lunch presenters and delegates mingled to continue discussions about how the ideas presented and demonstrated could be applied to classrooms and institutions across the region.

The next meeting of TESOL Arabia Western Chapter will be in mid-May. If you are interested in joining the TESOL Arabia Western Region Chapter please contact:
Dr Peter W. Stanfield: pstanfield@hct.ac.ae
Dr Melanie Gobert: mgobert@hct.ac.ae
Fathi Ben Mohamed: fmohamed3@adnoc.ae

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