Language Research Center

Challenges of Online Classes and Strategies to Overcome Them

  At a webinar organized by the Language Research Center on March 3, 2021, Dr. Sarwat Un Nisa delivered a presentation titled Challenges of Online Classes and Strategies to Overcome Them. The presentation was based on several research studies conducted on the above issue.   Dr. Sarwat started her presentation by stating that the rapid shift from a face-to-face learning mode to a distance learning mode has given rise to many challenges for ELT instructors around the world. One of the challenges, she states, is handling classroom management issues. It is crucial and important to admit that virtual classroom management strategies are different from face-to-face classroom management.   Dr. Sarwat's presentation was divided into three parts – online pedagogy, challenges faced by students, the strategies instructors can adapt, and the challenges students face and the strategies they can adapt to overcome them.   According to Pelz (2009), she said, learning is more effective when students do most of the work in class. Interactivity is the heart of effective asynchronous learning. While explaining online pedagogy, first, she emphasized using technology as a tool. Creating a successful online learning experience begins with the deliberate application of instructional design principles, she added. Secondly, she emphasized keeping technology as simple as possible. If technology turns hard for the students to understand, the instructors need to spend extra time explaining the technology itself, which affects the actual learning. Thirdly, she spoke about alignment, which is all about the correlation between the course content, tests and learning objectives. Fourthly, she mentioned the ease in course design and navigation. She explained that the course teacher can make it easy for the learners by creating hyperlinks and making regular announcements. The fifth point she covered is the importance of clear expectations and directions for activities and assessments. Students should be clear about which direction they are moving towards. Finally, she emphasized making the instructor’s presence known to students. Regular correspondence between the instructor and students can solve this issue.   Dr. Sarwat, while talking about teacher-student interaction, stated that it is essential to respond quickly to student questions. By doing this regularly, such interaction increases.   Dr. Sarwat also highlighted student-to-content interaction, multimedia principles, multiple interactions with the same content, academic honesty and authenticity of student work, supporting students. She also talked about technical issues and how to solve them. She concluded her presentation by sharing some strategies that learners can adapt to overcome the challenges of online learning.   The webinar was a great success with the active participation of faculty members and graduate students. Date: 3-4-2021 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

21st Century Teaching and the Global Scale of English

  At a webinar organized by the Language Research Center on February 24, 2021, Ms. Arshi Khatoon presented her topic: 21st Century Teaching and the Global Scale of English. She put emphasis on the dynamics of the most modern concepts of learning and teaching and its proper implementation to have better learning outcomes.   Ms. Khatoon, first, stated the fact that in this global and interconnected world, all learners need new skills and knowledge to be successful in their lives. 21st-century skills are essential for the fulfillment of such success, she added. She quoted David Nunan, "The Global Scale of English represents the most significant advance in performance-based approaches to language learning, teaching and assessment since the development of the Common European Framework of Reference".   Teachers, Ms. Khatoon, said, can use the global scale of English to guide their students properly. The teachers first ask themselves how good their English is, whether they are progressing and what they need to do next. To answer these questions, both teachers and students need to follow the steps of the English learning ecosystem. A teacher should know a clear definition of a particular level of proficiency, alignment between the learning materials and the 'levels' of definitions, and have tacit knowledge of assessment tests designed to profile learners' proficiency across the four basic skills. The Global Scale of English, Ms. Khatoon explained, is an accurate, standardized scale that measures English language proficiency. Unlike other frameworks, this particular scale identifies what a learner can do at each point on the scale across the four skills. The purpose of the scale, she said, is designed to motivate learners.   She focused on Learning and Innovation Skills that comprise 4Cs – Critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. These skills help students thrive in their working lives. These 4Cs help students have opportunities in advance to develop basic skills or foundation knowledge. They also ensure that students have proper academic, social-emotional, and workforce skills to be successful.   The key elements of 21st-century learning help students prepare for their future jobs independently. She, therefore, emphasized that lessons should be designed according to the 21st-century theme.   Ms. Khatoon concluded that students need the ability to think critically and creatively, collaborate with others and communicate clearly.   The webinar was a great success with active participation from students and faculty members of the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs. Date: 2-25-2021 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

Professional Development of Language Teachers: Need for Self-Appraisal

  Dr. Shadma Iffat Rahmatullah conducted a workshop titled Professional Development of Language Teachers: Need for Self-Appraisal, at a webinar organized by the Language Research Center (LRC) on February 17, 2021. The emphasis of her presentation was on being a reflective teacher.   Dr. Iffat began by emphasizing the importance of the professional development of teachers for their career enhancement. She also highlighted that teachers are always engaged in lifelong learning throughout their lives and therefore need to cope with the ever-changing teaching and learning environment. She raised some questions about whether teachers evaluate themselves, predefine learning outcomes and evaluate how effective the teaching is from the point of view of learning.   Dr. Iffat, while explaining the need for quality professional development, showed the correlation between the teaching practice and students' learning achievement and how teaching goals are related to students' actual learning needs. In this case, she added, professional development is increasingly important. This primarily focuses on the way teachers construct their professional identities in the continuous interaction with students. Teachers, she said, should understand the underlying theory behind instructional strategy. According to some research, students placed with high-performing teachers make progress three times as fast as those placed with low-performing teachers.   Dr. Iffat also focused on how a teacher's performance is affected by his or her personal life factors. In this case, she added, teachers need to develop certain skills to balance their personal and professional lives.   Dr. Iffat compared teacher training and professional development by explaining that professional development puts emphasis on teachers' awareness of their teaching contexts, which helps them apply their practical skills in their teaching, whereas teacher training helps them learn essential pedagogical skills.   Overall, Dr. Iffat highlighted the importance of self-reflection or being a reflective teacher who has the ability to evaluate himself or herself and understand what, why and how they should do things in class. She explained the distinction between a reflective and non-reflective teacher as a reflective teacher always conducts self-evaluation. Further, she explained how such evaluation can be carried out.   Dr. Shadma Iffat concluded that teachers' professional development enhances the understanding level of students. Also, teachers' ongoing reflection of their own teaching practices is the most required element of professional development.   Dean Abdullah Al-Melhi, in response to her presentation, proffered positive comments on how important being a reflective teacher is and congratulated Dr. Iffat for her informative presentation. He also added the importance of coping with new technology along with the regular practice of being reflective teachers. He thanked the Ph.D. students in addition to all participants in the webinar. LRC Director, Dr. Ismail Alrefaai, emphasized putting such webinars under the umbrella of Teachers' Professional Development. He added that technology can also help with such self-evaluation. While repeating the main points highlighted by Dr. Iffat, he added that teachers should reflect on students' feedback and evaluation and accordingly improve themselves.   The webinar was informative, interactive, and a great success with male and female faculty members' and the Ph.D. students' active participation. Date: 2-19-2021 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

Foundation Knowledge for Teaching Listening and Speaking Effectively

  Dr. Sara Sevinj Huseynova conducted a workshop titled Foundation Knowledge for Teaching Listening and Speaking Effectively at a webinar organized by the Language Research Center on February 03, 2021. She emphasized what a teacher needs to know to teach the skills mentioned above properly.   Dr. Huseynova first introduced that the core principles of teaching these two skills are generally the same even though one is receptive and the other is productive. The principles, Dr. Huseynova said, are communicative teaching, interactive/task-based learning, learner-centered instruction, and group/blended learning. According to sociolinguists, communication takes place visually, vocally, and verbally. In the "Communicative Approach", she added, students should be engaged in interactive learning, which also involves authentic language input in real-world contexts.   Dr. Huseynova also emphasized the textbook's appropriateness, which means that the material used should include various gender-appropriate topics and interactive activities that make students talk and respond. Moreover, teachers need to prepare lesson plans based on the textbook; however, the lesson's general instructional line should involve the ideas of communicative approach in action.   Dr. Huseynova recommends that the teachers help students have proper exposure to genuine English usage. The teachers should apply both controlled and non-controlled techniques along with efficient use of technology in class. Sara mentioned real-life characteristics and difficulties of listening and speaking processes, making oral communication challenging to teach. Overall, the lessons should be fully learner-centered with less lecturing or reduced "Teacher Talk Time" with the instructor being a role model and art director.   While explaining the interactive teacher roles, Dr. Huseynova focused on unlocking the knowledge of the students before letting the students practice listening, which activates their schematic knowledge. Pre-listening encourages discussion around the theme of the unit with inspiration from interesting questions and striking visuals. Pre-listening may include pronunciation practice as well, which may help improve the overall listening comprehension.   Dr. Huseynova also explained the basic principles of a task-based approach to listening, modern teaching strategies for listening, creative teacher roles, how to encourage students to listen and talk, assessment methods, and the necessity to provide the appropriate feedback.   Dr. Huseynova mentioned the appropriateness of using the "Flipped Classroom" model for teaching listening and speaking, especially during online education. With the "Flipped Classroom" model, learning is flipped, and the students can finish the lower level of cognitive work before the lesson starts, and the teacher continues with applying the knowledge and practicing listening and speaking skills in class.   Dr. Huseynova concluded that it is very important to create an effective rapport with the students and share the appropriate knowledge. A teacher should praise the students in a balanced way with mild criticism while giving corrective feedback, which shows the teacher's genuine interest. Feedback must be given tactfully so that the students are not embarrassed or anxious, not to lose interest in learning.   The webinar was informative and a great success with both male and female faculty members' active participation. Date: 2-5-2021 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

From Normal to New Normal: Rethinking Methodologies

  Ms. Sharmin Siddiqui presented her research paper titled From Normal to New Normal: Rethinking Methodologies, at a webinar organized by the Language Research Center on January 27, 2021. She highlighted the dramatic shift from one teaching move to another due to the current pandemic.   Siddiqui first defined the new normal with a reference from Wikipedia on how the term 'New Normal' was first used in 2007 and 2008 during the financial crisis and used until COVID-19. She mentioned how the traditional classroom pedagogies during the lockdown abruptly took a backseat, and virtual learning became the only way of teaching in mainstream education. She also stated how the sudden disruption required many professionals to change their conventional mindsets and acquire a new set of skills compatible with the latest online pedagogies.   Siddiqui focused on the dramatic success of online teaching at King Khalid University during the outbreak. She mentioned that faculty members and students could communicate effectively and successfully in this virtual teaching mode during the pandemic, although many educational institutions of different countries halted their activities sine die.   Siddiqui also talked about the two most popular learning management systems: Moodle and Blackboard. She brought out some limitations of using virtual platforms exclusively and put forward some issues to reconsider the teachers' methodologies. Referring to a case study, she mentioned that if learners are provided with the same learning material, quality of teachers, and resources as in the traditional mode of learning, the same academic outcomes will be achieved.   The primary issue associated with virtual classrooms, Siddiqui said, is the difficulty in addressing individual interests and needs according to the learners' different learning styles. Also, lecturing is the commonly used method in the online mode, she added. The intended communicative gestures that are considered important vehicles for building rapport with learners are not possible in a virtual platform. Besides, reassessing absenteeism criteria is one of the needs for ensuring the learning outcomes, she mentioned. She also highlighted some drawbacks of applying a particular test type in a virtual platform and questioned its validity.   The presenter concluded her presentation with some recommendations. To differentiate instruction in virtual platforms, teachers need to switch between the modes. Using different kinds of synchronous and asynchronous communication ensures successful collaboration between teachers and students, she emphasized. To ensure the learners' attention and attendance, teachers should announce that at the end of the session, there will be an incentive-based assessment.   The webinar was very interactive and a great success with both male and female faculty members' active participation. Date: 1-29-2021 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

Exploring the Infringing Behaviors of Students Inside an EFL Classroom: A Research Study From the Teacher’s Vantage Point

  On 2 December 2020, a webinar was organized by the Language Research Center (LRC) of the Faculty of Languages and Translation dedicated to those students who are often overlooked by the teachers and are tagged as bad students entitled "Exploring the Infringing Behaviors of Students Inside an EFL Classroom: A Research Study From the Teacher’s Vantage Point." At the beginning of the webinar, Dr. Najmus Sarifa and Ms. Rakshinda Jabeen began by explaining their study's purpose, which is centered on the premise that there are neither bad students nor bad teachers, noting that only expertise, competence, and cooperation can do wonders in the class.   Sarifa and Jabeen introduced their topic by stating the fact that the infringing behavior of students is defined as a set of undesired and objectionable behavior that hampers the flow of teaching-learning activities in the classroom. Such behavior, they said, can result in a disturbance in class and eventually hinder the entire learning process. Not only is it annoying for the teachers, but it is irritating, exasperating, and tiresome for the learners as well, they added. They pinpointed some common misbehavior types such as disobedience, rudeness, non-attentiveness, daydreaming, unpunctuality, and most importantly, not completing classroom tasks.   Their research study investigated how university teachers perceive misbehavior and sheds light on the underlying causes of such undesired behavioral traits. It was based on a descriptive survey, the result of which showed the common inappropriate behaviors the teachers encounter and the reasons for such behaviors. The findings of the study, they said, would help to establish a well-managed classroom.   To achieve proper education goals, Sarifa and Jabeen explained that it is important to create an ideal learning environment that fosters a positive attitude among the students.   While explaining the potential reasons for misbehavior, they mentioned some scholars Başar (1998), Bull & Solity (1996), and Stephens & Crawley (1994). According to these scholars, they said, students with variegated characters may have problematic behaviors. Students' past experiences may result in misbehavior as well. The teacher's attitude towards students may also give rise to such undesired attitudes.   Sarifa and Jabeen emphasized that skillful classroom management will make a significant change and lessen the amount of undesirable behavior in class. The presenters further recommended that effective instruction and the smooth running of a lesson require interaction patterns, and teaching methodologies that create diverse communication contexts in an EFL classroom.   They concluded that students rarely misbehave without cause. The research study opens room for further analysis and discussion on outside factors as well as the inside factors responsible for disruptive behaviors. They recommended further exploration of the reasons for misconduct among students.   During the question-answer session, LRC Director, Dr. Ismail Alrefaai, emphasized that it is important to explain the rules, regulations, and expectations at the beginning of every course or class. He also placed emphasis on reducing teacher talk time in language classes and ensuring teaching and learning strategies are student-centered and encourage active learning.   The webinar was very interactive yielding insights into a better understanding of the appropriate methods to care for, motivate, and support underachieving students in the Bachelor of Arts in English program.   The Bachelor of Arts in English program at the Faculty of Languages and Translation is committed to ensuring that students are provided with effective academic, professional, psychological, social guidance, and counseling services through qualified and sufficient staff. Date: 12/3/2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

Probing into the Holistic and Atomistic Ways of Learning Adopted by Students at the Tertiary Level

  On 25 November 2020, a webinar was organized by the Language Research Center of the Faculty of Languages and Translation that addressed the importance of teaching for quality learning entitled "Probing into the Holistic and Atomistic Ways of Learning Adopted by Students at the Tertiary Level." At the beginning of the webinar, Ms. Tanzina Halim and Ms. Shanjida Halim began with quotations by Tyler (2013) and Taba (1962), who emphasized the importance of students' ability to transfer teaching to their lives outside school and focused on why real teaching should be given preference over memorizing facts.   The presenters introduced their topic by labeling learning as dependent on a complex interaction of factors. In this way, there are different approaches to learning conditioned by concepts of learning. They differentiated the two central concepts – Holistic and Atomistic approaches. When the approach is holistic, they said, a learner preserves a structure and focuses on the whole in relation to the parts. On the other hand, the atomistic approach allows a learner to distort the structure, focusing on the parts. The former, they added, is an in-depth approach to learning and the latter, on the other hand, is a surface approach that is primarily based on memorization with little emphasis on meaning. As far as the quality of learning is concerned, the presenters labeled the holistic approach more effective. The atomistic approach results in lower quality learning outcomes, they added while quoting Marton & Saljo (1984) and Process & Millar (1989). The presenters explained in detail the characteristics of these two approaches and the factors that affect the learners' approaches to learning at the tertiary level. They focused on the importance of having a proper understanding of 'deep' and 'surface' approaches among educators. They also explained the role of teachers to make learning engaging and changing learners from passive to active.   They concluded that learning is the acquisition of new concepts and beliefs. It was suggested that there is a need for reframing how educators understand 'deep' and 'surface' approaches. The webinar was very interactive yielding insights into a better understanding of effective teaching with better learning outcomes. It was well-structured, insightful, and rich in content with the active participation of both male and female faculty members.   The Bachelor of Arts in English program at the Faculty of Languages and Translation is committed to ensuring that teaching and learning strategies are student-centered and encourage active learning. Date: 11/26/2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

Translation of Metaphors, Metonymy, and Similies in the Holy Quran

  Second-year Translation students, Wafa Al-Qahtani, Raneem Riyad, and Renad Al-Fudailii, delivered a webinar titled: "Translation of Metaphors, Metonymy, and Similes in the Holy Quran" at a regular biweekly event organized by the Language Research Center (LRC) on November 11, 2020. LRC Director, Dr. Ismail Alrefaai, and Dr. Eyhab Bader Eddin MCIL CL MITI sincerely thanked the students for their participation, which allowed for a better understanding of the challenges involved in rendering the sacred text into English, as the classical Arabic in which it is written is lexically complex with unique linguistic features.   The presenters highlighted the significance of how challenging it is for translators to translate the Quran's rhetorical features or tropes. The presentation was centered on three kinds of tropes – Metonymy, Simile and Metaphor.   Wafa began her part by talking about Metonymy, explaining its etymological background with some relevant examples. Metonymy, she added, is a critical figure of speech, which significantly plays an important role in expressing the accurate meaning of particular messages in the Holy Quran. She explained in detail the role of Metonymy in the Holy Quran by comparing different examples of Quranic translation. The examples conspicuously highlighted the extent to which translators maintained Metonymy in translating the Quranic verses.   Raneem focused on how to translate Simile in the Holy Quran. She first defined the term etymologically and explained in detail with an example. Simile, she explained, is a figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another in such a way as to clarify and enhance an image. While comparing two versions of Quranic translation, she highlighted ambiguity in using a word that may confuse English readers or non-native Arabic speakers. She also focused on how the actual meaning is lost or not adequately expressed in such translation.   Renad's part was centered on Metaphors. She defined the term with an example. Metaphors, she said, is a figure of speech in which one thing is described in terms of another. While comparing two versions of Quranic translation, she pointed out the metaphorically more accurate version that conveys proper metaphorical sense.   The presenters came up with the conclusion that translating the Holy Quran involves tremendous challenges. The difficulty increases in the case of translating a sacred book like the Holy Quran as it needs an honest transfer of meaning. Also, the fact that many Arabic words do not have exact English equivalents makes translation even more challenging. It was undoubtedly a very informative webinar, garnering the active participation of both male and female faculty members and students alike.   The Master of Arts in Translation program at the Faculty of Languages and Translation is committed to providing student-centered professional development activities that are consistent with program learning outcomes and labor market developments. Date: 11/12/2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

Quality Parameters for Blackboard Evaluation: A Case Study

  On October 28, 2020, a webinar was organized by the Language Research Center. The presenters were Dr. Rizwana Wahid and Ms. Qudsia Zaini. They spoke on the subject of Quality Parameters for Blackboard Evaluation based on a case study they had conducted.   Wahid and Zaini's paper attempted to explore how teachers justify online learning effectiveness and learner performance quality during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before they began their main presentation, they raised a question regarding the authenticity of Blackboard exams in evaluating students' learning and performance.   They stated the challenges involved in conducting remote online exams as far as fairness and validity are concerned. They explained quality parameters that involve multiple strategies and activities to evaluate students' readiness and progress of learning outcomes.   The study was significant, they said, because of the challenges teachers experience while teaching and giving their students exams online. Their paper's major objectives were the investigation of quality parameters to ensure online exam quality, finding the best ways to assess students during the pandemic, and the exploration of the proper ways to justify students' performance in online distance exams. While highlighting the literature review, they mentioned Frazer, Dickinson & Gronseth, and Chang had discussed and emphasized practical approaches to online teaching.   Wahid and Zaini discussed some solutions previously considered difficult or impossible to implement that teachers now use in accurately assessing their students, whether the students really deserve the grades they get by taking online exams, and how the availability of the Internet affects such exams. In response to the questionnaire, most of the teachers expressed their opinion in favor of traditional face-to-face teaching, they said. There were, however, some mixed opinions as well, some of which were in favor of online assessment. To overcome the difficulties experienced by teachers, they made some recommendations. Implementing strategies to increase test security, using the timer effectively, creating larger test pools, randomizing questions, and using Blackboard's "SafeAssign" option may solve the problems associated with online assessment, they added.   They concluded that one of the most important criterion of quality assurance and academic accreditation is ensuring that teaching/learning strategies and assessment methods are aligned with the intended learning outcomes at the program and course levels. They added that the teachers should evaluate the quality of learning, exams, and assignments for every course while ensuring learning strategies are student-centered.   It was an informative webinar and a great success with the active participation of male and female faculty members from the Bachelor of Arts in English program. Date: 10/29/2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English

Social Constructivist Approach: A Panacea for EFL Learners' Stress and Anxiety During the Pandemic

  Ms. Sufia Sultana and Ms. Richa Rastogi gave a presentation titled "Social Constructivist Approach: A Panacea for EFL Learners' Stress and Anxiety During the Pandemic" at a webinar arranged by the Language Research Center on October 14, 2020. The presentation was based on their research that explored learners' attitude towards online learning methods.   Sultana and Rastogi introduced the topic by mentioning how COVID-19 severely affected human life in general across the world and how it impacted educational institutions, resulting in a conspicuous shift from face-to-face to distance learning.   The primary objectives of their study, they said, were to explore students' attitudes towards online learning methods, identify teachers' capability for utilizing online platforms, highlight challenges involved in teaching, and recognize students' anxiety and stress levels as a crucial factor in deciding their academic performance and well-being.   Sultana and Rastogi highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on higher education. While reviewing the literature, they mentioned a research study conducted by the World Bank in response to the crisis. According to the study1, they said, "A failure to sustain effective tertiary systems can lead to perilous social upheavals, as youth fall outside the education system, unable to engage in active learning and uncertain about the future of their education and prospects." They also mentioned a study conducted at Arizona State University on how this crisis affected students of low-income groups.   The presenters further focused on the students' perspective during the pandemic. They substantiated the major reasons for stress and anxiety. The reasons, according to their research, are insufficient information about precautionary measures, fear of personal losses with respect to standard of living, lack of support network, claustrophobic confinement at home, and lack of motivation in self-isolation. Sultana and Rastogi's research also revealed that insufficient command of the target language, lack of exposure to electronic exams, and time-consuming schedules result in higher stress and anxiety levels.   They finally made some recommendations, such as increasing teacher training in implementing high-quality courses, creating a diverse learning environment for the students, orientation programs that train the students for self-directed learning, and developing critical thinking skills. They concluded that students' overall performance was very satisfactory despite the stress they experienced. They added students' readiness for self-directed learning and training curricula are the foundations of an integrated learning experience.   It was undoubtedly a very informative webinar as the presenters successfully pinpointed the major academic issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how to address them. The webinar was a great success with the active participation of both male and female faculty members of the Bachelor of Arts in English program. 1Citation "World Bank. 2020. The COVID-19 Crisis Response: Supporting Tertiary Education for Continuity, Adaptation, and Innovation. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34571 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO." Date: 10/15/2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
English