English on the east coast

THE first-ever Melta conference organised by the Malaysian English Language Teachers Association (MELTA) on the east coast was a great success with more than 250 participants attending 47 sessions on the theme “Reading and Writing: Preparing ESL Learners for the Real World”.  

The conference, held at Awana Resort Kijal, Kemaman, was opened by Kuala Trengganu Member of Parliament Datuk Razali Ismail who, in his opening speech, stressed the importance of helping ESL learners face real-life language demands beyond the walls of the classroom.  

He urged teachers to go beyond mere teaching to educate and influence lives and to help learners make choices. 

Razali stated that the focus of the 15th Melta conference on educating learners for the real world is in line with the thrust of the Ninth Malaysia Plan to enhance the development of human capital. 

Grand prize winners (from left) Christine, Some of the participants who attended the first-ever Melta conference in Kemaman, Terengganu.

The participants benefited from presentations which covered an array of issues and topics including the teaching of real-world reading and writing skills, designing real-world tasks for the classroom, and using real-world materials for reading and writing activities.  

In a plenary session, Datin Dr Siti Zaleha Abdullah Sani from the School Inspectorate Division of the Education Ministry addressed the question of whether ESL teachers are preparing their students sufficiently for the real world by customising activities to meet the needs of learners with reading and writing problems.  

She stressed the importance of early intervention during the critical years of literacy development and proposed a scaffolding approach in helping learners develop skills, confidence and independence. 

Another plenary speaker, Olha Madylus, pointed out the change of focus in language education. She emphasised how literacy needs have evolved from knowing about the English language to knowing how to use it effectively in various real-world contexts through the use of appropriate and engaging tasks. Her talk also stressed the current need to develop technological literacy, ingenuity, creativity, imagination and resourcefulness in our learners. 

Workshops and demonstrations were well-received during the two days of sessions. Star-NiE trainer Teh Soo Choon's interactive workshop explored ways in which newspapers, a real-world text, can be used to motivate students in the English Language classroom. Misty Adoniou, a Literacy and TESOL lecturer at the University of Canberra, demonstrated the use of authentic texts for teaching English to young learners. 

Melta president Assoc Prof Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani voiced his appreciation to the State Education Department and English Language teachers of Trengganu for their participation and support in making the conference a success. He also thanked the main sponsors of the conference The Star and Penerbit Fajar Bakti /Oxford University Press, as well as the British Council for sponsoring the event at Awana Kijal.  

The next conference venue will be at Sheraton Subang Hotel and Towers on June 5 and 6, and the final venue is at Kuching on June 9 and 10. To register, call 03-7958 3173. 

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