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Tuesday November 30, 2021

SPELT announces research journal on 37th foundation anniversary

July 17, 2021

The Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (SPELT) has turned 37 years old. A seed sown 37 years ago has blossomed into a mature organisation making continuous efforts for teachers’ empowerment.

Gul Jaffri, an active SPELTer and the ceremony’s moderator, said this on Friday as she emphasised the significance of the anniversary celebrations in a virtual press conference.

In spite of the pandemic that affected all facets of life, including education, SPELT continued its commitment of training the trainers as it has been doing so since 1984.

The chair of the press conference was Prof Zakia Sarwar, known nationally and internationally as a seasoned English language teaching (ELT) expert having many honours to her credit. A mover and a shaker, she helped put Pakistan on the ELT map of the world.

SPELT is known as a model teachers association in the region that is held in high esteem by international organisations such as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL). On the occasion of the 37th anniversary celebration of the society, Prof Zakia launched the SPELT research journal.

Prof Dr Fauzia Shamim, founding member of SPELT and dean of faculty of liberal arts at the Ziauddin University, informed the press conference how SPELT was established on July 17, 1984.

She said the society had conducted 36 international conferences, reached out to more than 70,000 teachers across Pakistan and conducted 440 free academic sessions. “It has 37 years of empowering teachers,” she said, adding that they had several publications including E-bulletins.

‘Killing Two Birds with One Stone’ is a SPELT professional development programme by Prof Fauzia and Prof Zakia. As for their professional development programmes, she said they offered the International Certificate in English Language Teaching Cambridge University, UK; few short courses, webinars and workshops. During the pandemic, she said they had arranged free webinar series for online learning.

Speaking on their future directions, Prof Zakia said they had launched the ELT research journal. She added that they wanted to reach out to teachers as well as students and other professions and industry to continue offering tailor-made projects to address professional development needs of teachers in different contexts.

SPELT also plans to hold a two-day annual international conference in November this year. There will be a panel discussion on teaching and researching about English in difficult circumstances. The panel discussion would be based around major themes in two books: ‘Research on Teaching and Learning English in Under-Resource Contexts’ and ‘International Perspectives on Teaching English in Difficult Circumstances’.

This year, she said they would have the ELT research journal coming out. The aim of the journal, according to her, was to nature indigenous research in Pakistan and foster colleagues to contribute as writers in national and international research journals and be at the same pace as researchers around the world.

One of the focal points of the research is the role of memberships in SPELT in women’s professional identities as educational leaders and advocates. The researchers include Dr Judy Sharkey, professor and chair education department, University of New Hampshire, Durham USA and Dr Caralyn Layzer, senior research associate at Abt Associates, Inc Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Getz Pharma CEO Khalid Mehmood said English was a ticket to success. He added that there was unfortunate confusion in the country with English as the language of academia, bureaucracy and business and Urdu as the medium of instruction. He said any language could be taught at any age.

Author Javed Jabbar said English was far too important language to be left with the British alone. “There are more English speakers in China today than in the USA,” he said, adding that English had converged in our regional languages. He remarked that English and Urdu both were ‘Lashkari’ languages.