(L–R) David Matthews (Chair of English Australia), Sue Blundell (English Australia Executive Director), Katherine Brandon (English Australia Professional Support and Development Officer), Professor Anne Burns (UNSW). John Gardiner, Amal Khabbaz, Brendan Brown, Adi Rotem, Megan Baker, Sara Kablaoui, Brigette Fyfe, Christine Vella, Dr Nick Saville (Cambridge ESOL)
Exciting research by two RMIT English Worldwide (REW) staff members, Amal Khabbaz and Sara Kablaoui, has been published in Cambridge Research Notes, Issue 48 May 2012. This quarterly publication reports on matters related to research, test development and validation within Cambridge ESOL.
Amal and Sara both come from Arabic-speaking backgrounds and have also both taught English in Middle Eastern countries. They collaborated on a Cambridge ESOL Action Research in ELICOS project in 2011 and presented their research and findings in September 2011 at the English Australia Conference in Adelaide.
Their research paper, ‘Developing reading skills of learners from Arabic-speaking backgrounds’, is one of six research projects published by Cambridge Research Notes.
Amal and Sara’s research focused identifying the difficulties and challenges Arabic ESL learners face when they read and respond to texts. They wanted to understand what Arabic learners need to do to develop the skills necessary to be able to enjoy reading books. The students were taught four reading strategies designed to address their reading difficulties. Amal and Sara observed the students and collected feedback via surveys. Their research showed that a systematic reading approach facilitated by regular class-based reading activities is invaluable in developing and refining reading skills for Arabic learners.
Ann Wright, Director of the REW Melbourne Language Centre, emphasised the importance of contributions from teaching staff like Amal and Sara in providing the best opportunity for international students to develop their English language skills.
‘We have a number of Arabic learners that come through the REW Melbourne Language Centre each year and understanding how they learn is critical to their success,’ Ann said.
Ann believes that as a leading ELICOS provider, REW is very aware of the needs of its students and that the English Academic Passport teaching materials coupled with the highly qualified teaching staff sets REW apart from other English language providers.
Ann goes on to point out, ‘Research projects such as this provide great professional development opportunities for teachers and REW is very pleased to support these activities. We are very proud of what Amal and Sara have achieved.’
A hearty congratulations must go to Amal Khabbaz and Sara Kablaoui for their hard work, valuable research and relevant findings—definitely something to read and think about!
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