Language Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Qatar University’s (QU) Foundation Program (FP) and Deanship of General Studies in collaboration with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) organized a webinar under the title “Language Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic” via WebEx. The webinar was attended worldwide, on 5 July, 2020. Language educational experts from Qatar, Canada and the USA ran the discussion. The webinar brought together over 150 faculty from universities and language centers around the world. This webinar aimed to exchange experiences between educational programs in language teaching and highlighting the challenges facing language education in light of the outbreak of COVID-19. The effects of these challenges, contemporary solutions and offering insights for future language education across the globe was discussed during the session. Director of the Foundation Program, Dr. Hezam Al-Awah, said: “FP keenness is to provide insights from language programs and discuss the initiatives taken and the strategies employed by the language teachers, course leads and program administrators, to develop contingency plans to address the challenges posed by the pandemic. This webinar is important as it addresses the challenges posed on the language educational process that affected our students, in terms of language acquisition and the usage of language skills in elevating their academic performance.” Dr. Al-Awah thanked the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, for the effective collaboration in organizing this event. “We are looking for more professional development seminars in partnership with the Center”, he added. Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Dr. Husam Aldamen said, “CETL is pleased to forge this important partnership with the Deanship for General Studies, via the FP, which is known for its exemplary quality of teaching and learning. This event takes on a special significance as it deals with language education, which is a field that often requires constant contact and engagement. The expert panelists’ reflection on their experience will be beneficial to language educators, as well as others from various disciplines at Qatar University and other educational institutions world-wide.” Department Head of English, QUFP, Dr. Mohamed Manasreh, said “Such webinars enrich the faculty knowledge and help to know the strengths, as well as, the areas that must be improved, whether at the level of the curriculum or the professional development and provide knowledge of the capabilities in these circumstances.” The webinar panelists, Mr. Kashif Raza, a lecturer in English at the Foundation Program at Qatar University, Dr. Mick King, the Chair of Foundation English at the Community College of Qatar, Dr. Dudley Reynolds, a Teaching Professor of English at the Carnegie Mellon University Qatar and Dr. Shahid Abrar-ul-Hassan, a Professor and Course Lead at the Yorkville University, Canada discussed the following questions: What challenges did the pandemic pose for language education? What strategies were/are employed to address these challenges? How was/is the transition to online education? And what are the future implications of current online education at classroom, program, and field levels? The webinar concluded with a Q&A session where the panelists answered attendees' questions and shared their final thoughts. It is worth noting that the Foundation Program, under the Deanship of General Studies, at Qatar University, launched several professional development activities for faculty members via virtual platforms as a precaution to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.