THE 15th MELTA conference will begin on May 31 at Kemaman, Terengganu. For those who are keen to attend and have not registered yet, please do so with the MELTA office as soon as possible.
The conference will be held at three venues this year – Awana Kijal Resort in Kemanan, Terengganu, on May 31 and June 1; the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Subang Jaya, on June 5 and 6 June; and Merdeka Palace Hotel in Kuching, on June 9 and 10.
Among the plenary speakers at the conference is Leela Mohd Ali, a retired curriculum developer and teacher trainer, and currently Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia’s chief executive officer. Leela will draw upon her extensive experience in English language teaching to speak about Teaching real world reading and writing skills.
According to Leela, the classroom and the real world are often viewed as separate and mutually exclusive domains. However, English Language practitioners should rethink this point of view because the classroom is part of the real world.
It is “different only in having a different set of conventions, relationships and strategies” and effective classrooms should thus incorporate “natural language” from the real world as well as classroom procedures, said Leela.
Leela will also highlight the importance of having ESL teachers who are patient, tolerant of learners’ problems, and willing to support students as they struggle with the learning process to facilitate the development of reading and writing skills.
Conference participants will also get to attend a workshop by a specialist in Special and Remedial Education, Beryl Lutrin, from South Africa.
Lutrin, the co-author of The English Handbook and Study Guide (2002), will present a lesson plan that will enable teachers to teach English in context, using material that is “current, relevant, age-appropriate and of interest to their learners,” from newspapers, magazines, television programs, films or even prescribed literature.
The plan will enable teachers to cover reading, comprehension, language, writing, spelling and speaking, and allow regular reinforcement of the tasks.
There will also be sessions targeted at meeting the needs of teachers working with children with special needs.
Khadijah Tifla from the International Islamic University, for instance, will be sharing useful ideas on Organising language camps using realia: Motivating reluctant eight-year-old readers and writers.
A school principal from Sarawak, Marcus Raja @ Markus Gatuman, will present a paper entitled Writing materials for reluctant readers. Naziha Yahya and Tan Lay Hong from International House, Malaysia, will conduct a workshop on motivating reluctant writers called Writing? I would rather wrestle alligators!
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam, in his paper entitled Writing tales: The retold stories, will discuss strategies to help learners write creatively in a comfortable and meaningful manner. The paper proposes the use of “templates drawn from stories and tales that are familiar and well known to learners as points of entry before allowing them the freedom to manipulate the templates to exhibit their own creative and critical abilities”.
Such activities, he proposes, will help learners believe that they, too, have many stories to tell.
The conference will also feature a number of demonstrations which may be of interest to primary and secondary school teachers.
Dara Richard, the English Language coordinator for Bentong district, will demonstrate ways of Using real world tasks to prepare students for the UPSR.
Jaya Kumar C. Koran, an officer at the Education Ministry’s Educational Technology Division, will present 96 ways of using the laptop for joyful learning.
Master trainer from the International Languages Teachers Training Institute Aslam Khan Samahs Khan will explain how learners’ writing skills can be enhanced through reading selected materials in his presentation Reading – The bridge over troubled writing.
The main sponsor for the conference is Penerbit Fajar Bakti/University Press Oxford. The Star is the media sponsor.