(MENAFN - Arab News) English-teaching seminar takes off in Riyadh with emphasis on quality.
Education in Saudi Arabia is built on Islamic teachings, which are in turn based on moderation and tolerance, according to the rector of the Riyadh-based Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University yesterday.
Speaking at the opening day of a symposium on English education, Sulaiman bin Abdullah Aba Al-Khail said education policy in Saudi Arabia encourages students to acquire knowledge from all possible sources to help bolster progress of the country and its people.
The symposium, titled "Teaching of English language: realities and challenges," is being organized by the College of Language and Translation at Imam University with Minister of Higher Education Khalid Al-Anqari as guest of honor and a number of language experts both from within the country and abroad.
Aba Al-Khail ranked the College of Languages and Translation among the best institutions in non-English speaking countries worldwide. He said English has become the language of technology and business.
"We have to deal with these new developments and treat English strictly as a second language," he said, adding the language could be a tool for conveying the goals of noble message of Islam to others.
Aba Al-Khail said the symposium comes as part of the Saudi leadership's vision on the development of higher education to boost the linguistic capabilities of the students and raise awareness of the market needs for those competent in English and prepared to work at public and private sector companies.
The symposium is also meant to open channels of communication with local and international publishing houses interested in developing methods of teaching English with experts in this area, he said.
The output of the symposium will benefit all participants, including both the ministries of education and higher education, teachers, and those involved in translation as well as publishing houses, he noted.
Aba Al-Khail said the university would continue organizing such symposiums and conferences to cement relations between concerned public and private institutions and society at large.
Dean of the College of Translation and Languages Mohamed Ibrahim Al-Ihaidib said the idea of holding the symposium stemmed from a proposal put forth by the college on how to develop the teaching of English in the Kingdom.
He said a series of meetings were held to explore the reasons why the standard of English language was poor in the Kingdom and the college's role in diagnosing the problem and providing possible solutions. The proposal was approved by Aba Al-Khail, and committees were set up to develop the themes of the symposium, Al-Ihaidib explained.
Ahmed Abdullah Albanyan, head of the symposium's academic committee, said the committee received many papers related to English as a second language from many institutions in the country and abroad, all of which were reviewed.
Albanyan said this symposium would make an important contribution in this particular field in the Arab world. It tackles a variety of important issues related to English teaching and research.
"We are very pleased that we took the initiative to hold this symposium and we are very grateful to everyone who participated and attended," he said.
"On top of that, we thank the presenters for their contribution and also to all authors for sharing their experiences and expertise and the audience who enriched these presentations with their comments and questions. We also thank collective efforts of the plenary speakers and authors for considering the symposium as a venue for sharing their insights."
The first session yesterday discussed learners and the learning environment and featured Zainab Al-Najjar speaking on innovation in the Egyptian EFL context.
This was followed by Omar Sheikh Al-Shabab of King Faisal University who dealt with the topic: Arab learners of English.
The third lecture was by Abdulwahid Qasim Al-Zamr of King Khaled University who spoke on the university students' perceptions toward a blended learning environment and its impact on English language learning. The session was presided over by Mahmood Ismael Salih.
The second session on professional development was addressed by Paula Golombek, from University of Florida, US. She talked on the transformative power of teacher-authored narratives in language teaching. Another lecturer was Sadiq Yahaya Ezzah who discussed the EFL teacher's role in an ICT-oriented classroom.
The last lecture of the session was delivered by Abdullah Matar Abu Nab'ah of Imam University, who spoke on tutors and teacher-principal cooperation.
Saleh Sulaiman Al-Shayi and Abdullah Saad Al-Badri discussed a project on improving English teaching. Mohammed Erraihani presided over the session.