HCT-Cambridge conference targets English & Arabic language standards in Mena region

8 years

The first biennial CEFR Conference, the CEFR and its implication for the Gulf States, held at the Dubai Men’s College on October 20 & 21, proved to be a huge success with more than 600 language educators and specialists attended the opening day.

Under the theme of The CEFR: Principles of Good Practice, the conference examined the increasing global use of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and how it could be used in the UAE and MENA regions, with the aim of developing local standards in Arabic and English language delivery and learning for School Years K-12, and beyond. The delegates discussed and shared practical information on how to make use of the CEFR in teaching, assessment, structuring curriculum, and in education policy at local and national levels.

The CEFR, which was pioneered by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL) a decade ago, is now used to set language teaching and assessment standards throughout the world.

The two-day conference, the first of its kind in the region, was designed to raise awareness in the MENA region of the CEFR and how it is being used around the world. It was jointly hosted by the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) and Cambridge ESOL, as part of ongoing collaborations between the two institutions.

H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan and VIP guests including Cambridge ESOL CEO Dr Mike Milanovic at the commencement of the CEFR conference.

The landmark event was inaugurated by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor, Higher Colleges of Technology, who gave the opening address. H.E. Sheikh Nahayan previously spoke about the improvement of English language competancy skills of national high school graduates as a “strategic goal” for the UAE. He has also called for tertiary institutions to cooperate with schools in order to increase the English language proficiency of graduating school students.

H.E. Sheikh Nahayan has also said that language proficiencies should be part of the goal to “make all our public schools active learning, student-centered and quality oriented”. This, he said, would be done by using “curricula that use international best practices and are relevant to our students and the nation”.

Through a series of informative and interactive case studies, seminars and workshops conference delegates gained insights into the framework’s global perspectives and saw how CEFR is being implemented in different educational systems.

H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan chats with Dr Mike Milanovic at the CEFR conference.

Conference keynote speaker Dr Mike Milanovic, Chief Executive of Cambridge ESOL, gave an overview of the CEFR in the opening plenary session and he was joined by several other international and UAE-based language experts, including those from Cambridge ESOL, HCT and the Italian Ministry of Education.

Dr Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology said the conference was an important collaboration between the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and HCT, which examined the issues of learning, teaching and assessment of English and Arabic in the UAE education system and how the
CEFR system can be implemented in the region.

“Improving the language competancy skills of our nation’s high school and tertiary students is a strategic goal for the UAE, one in which institutions such as the HCT can act as leaders and drivers of major initiatives for its success. This conference is therefore responding to community and national needs, which ultimately demand student achievement and academic excellence, so they can make important contributions to our country,” Dr Kamali said.

“During this conference we have seen a strong focus on quality and excellence – not only on inputs to the educational process, but also on the outcomes we produce.  It has demonstrated that the UAE values continuous improvement in teaching and learning and a solid commitment to student learning and to the excellent preparation of graduates for the workforce,” he added.

“We are engaged in this partnership with Cambridge ESOL so that together we can develop strategies on how best to improve the language capabilities and skills of the students so they may be able to confidently take on future leadership roles,” Dr Kamali concluded.

For information on the conference visit http://cefr.hct.ac.ae