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AUS takes the lead in the advancement of English teaching within the UAE
American University of Sharjah (AUS), one of the world's top 500 universities, welcomed over 100 English teachers from both public and private schools in the Sharjah and Dubai Education Zones on Saturday, for a Professional Development Day. Workshops were delivered by faculty who teach on the university's MA TESOL program. The program-run by AUS for a decade and reaching nearly 100 UAE-based teachers over that period, is designed to provide a balance of the practical and theoretical knowledge needed to teach English at various proficiency levels and to develop as language education professionals.
Program workshop themes were chosen based on research into local teachers' needs, highlighting areas where they most wished to receive guidance and advice. The top three most requested themes were reading improvement, integrating technology into the ESL classroom and teaching mixed ability classes. The majority of participating teachers were nominated by the Sharjah Education Zone, Dubai Education Zone and principals of the Sharakah schools. The Sharakah program is a strategic initiative by the Office of Enrollment Management at AUS to promote sustainable partnerships with selected schools from across the United Arab Emirates. The participating teachers work with students from grades 4 to 12.
Dr. Mark Rush, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at AUS, welcomed the teachers and congratulated them for taking a step to enhance the quality of English teaching throughout the UAE. During his address to the group, he highlighted the main elements of the MA TESOL program, which is run by the Department of English, and its relevance to teacher education in the region.
Dr. John Battenburg, the Head of the Department of English at AUS, commented: "The Professional Development Day provides opportunities for AUS MA TESOL faculty to share practical ideas with classroom English language teachers in the region. These workshops have been offered to help make English language teaching and learning more meaningful in the UAE. Insights about improving reading, integrating technology and teaching mixed ability classes can assist teachers with the everyday challenges they face in their classrooms."
AUS has an impressive track record of 71 students who have completed the MA TESOL, which has been running at the university for 10 years, demonstrating the university's commitment and dedication to the advancement of English teaching in the region. The program, which was designed with practicing teachers in mind, focuses on teaching English to speakers of other languages. Dr. Battenburg added "This outreach event stimulated discussion and awareness of the program and showcased the exceptional teaching quality of AUS' faculty, its well-resourced campus, and the continued relevance of the program in our global community".
Mr Ahmad Bourini, Professional Development Coordinator for Sharjah at the Ministry of Education, commented that "Events like this provide an excellent opportunity for busy teachers to keep up with current research findings relevant to their professional lives." He went onto highlighted the value of the program to employers based on the unrivalled expertise of the AUS MA TESOL faculty.
The university delivers the MA TESOL program during the evenings to allow teachers to enroll without interrupting their careers and Mr Naim Odah, an Educational Supervisor within the Dubai Education zone and himself an alumnus of the MATESOL program, stated "The workshops were very professionally delivered and very helpful for teachers."