Posted on January 18, 2017

Qatar University Foundation Program (QU-FP) organized and hosted on January 18-19 the 2nd annual International Conference and Exhibition on English Language Teaching, aimed to bring together language practitioners and experts to network and share their research and teaching experiences on a wide range of topics related to English language teaching and learning.

Themed “Promoting Innovation in English Language Teaching and Learning: The Future Landscape”, the 2-day conference was organized in collaboration with Qatar Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language-Qatar (TEFL-Qatar) Association. The event brought together over 350 researchers, practitioners and scholars from Qatar, Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the UK.

Attending the opening ceremony were QU President Dr Hassan Al Derham, Ambassador of the USA to the State of Qatar H.E. Dana Smith, and QU Foundation Program and Core Curriculum Director Dr Maha Al-Hendawi as well as QU leaders, faculty, staff and students. The program agenda included a plenary session on “Meaningful face-to-face communication” presented by Mr Peter Grundy. He gave examples of real talk, and demonstrated that this poses a very considerable challenge for language learners as well as a real pedagogic problem for teachers.

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Featured speaker, Dr Sufian Abu-Rmaileh, gave a presentation on “Critical thinking classroom experience”. He discussed the dimensions of learning and their connection to critical thinking, defining and citing the rationale for critical thinking and metacognition use. He also stressed the importance of promoting critical thinking in the classroom, and suggested strategies and techniques to help train students to use critical thinking properly. The event featured the screening of two (2) video messages by International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) President Marjorie Rosenberg and TESOL International Association President Dudely Reynolds.

It also included sessions in the form of panel discussion, workshops, tech-workshops and research tips that addressed a wide range of topics such as “Building creative writers using 6 traits”, “Promoting learner confidence in the language classroom”, “Features of connected speech”, “ESL, EFL or EMI? The Gulf decides”, “Gamification and critical thinking: Mutual Impact”, “Online classroom tools and review games”, “Using animation videos for differentiated instruction”, “Categorizing, understanding and reducing written grammatical errors”, “Tips for using WhatsApp with Foundation English students”, “Error correction techniques”, “Creating motivated speakers”, and many more.

The event also included an exhibition featuring 20 booths presented by exhibitors from QU -- Foundation Program, Continuing Education Office, Student Services, Student Learning Support Centre, Testing Center, Cultural Awareness Team Book Project, and Flame Book Project, and from outside QU -- British Council, Cambridge University Press, Express Publishing, Garnet Education, International House, Knowledge Hub, Macmillan Education, National Geographic Learning – CENGAGE Learning, Pearson, Qatar Aeronautical College, Sumaya Primary Independent School for Girls, TEFL Qatar, and US Embassy.  

In his remarks, QU President Dr Hassan Al Derham welcomed the audience saying: “Qatar University has always strived to promote innovative education and research towards fulfilling its vision "to be regionally recognized for distinctive excellence in education and research, as an institution of choice for students and scholars and a catalyst for the sustainable socio-economic development of Qatar." In this spirit, Qatar University annually hosts several international conferences to fulfill this vision. These efforts contributed to promoting the international recognition of Qatar University.”

He added: “Today, employers have expectations from the higher education sector to prepare well-educated workforce with abilities to deal with constant challenges in a fast-changing world. Based on these expectations, universities and other educational institutions have the responsibility to shape up a generation of professionals who would meet the expectations of future employers.”

QU Foundation Program and Core Curriculum Director Dr Maha Al-Hendawi welcomed the audience to the 2nd international conference held by QU Foundation Program, under the theme of “Promoting Innovation in English Language Teaching and Learning: the Future Landscape”.

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“The essence of this theme stems from the current developments in English language teaching and forward thinking. Such developments drive us to promote creativity among our teachers and students”, Dr Al-Hendawi said, adding, “It is through conferences such as this we can maintain and propel our creativity to see where the future of English Language Teaching will take us. As we celebrate this annual event, we are also celebrating the Foundation Program at Qatar University and its accomplishments in teaching English and serving the community. Qatar University is the largest higher education institution in Qatar and has the largest department of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in the country with 130 faculty members who come from more than 30 different countries.”

Dr Al-Hendawi added: “In this year’s conference, I am pleased to announce the launching of TEFL-Qatar, as a Foundation Program effort to bring together English language professionals under one umbrella. It is an associate of IATEFL (International Association for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) which is formed to provide support and professional development opportunities for English Language Teaching professionals in Qatar and the Gulf.”

TEFL Qatar Chair Justin Kernot said: “I am proud to represent TEFL-Qatar and collaborate this with Qatar University Foundation Program on this significant event. I am certain that TEFL-Qatar will thrive with the support and contributions from the English Language Teaching community in Qatar and the region.”