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First ever English Day held at American University of Sharjah
Around 400 high school students from schools across the United Arab Emirates took part in the AUS English Day held today, February 5, at American University of Sharjah (AUS). The event, the first of its kind to be held at the university, featured a wide variety of workshops for participating students as well as Pepper, a humanoid robot, that answered questions posed by students and briefed them about language and technology.
Organized by the university’s Department of English in collaboration with the Office of Enrollment Management (OEM), the event was sponsored by Cambridge Assessment English and aimed to introduce high school students (grade 10-12) to the English undergraduate program offered at AUS, the Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature. The program, which is designed for creative individuals with a passion for the written and spoken word, provides students with a broad knowledge of the ways in which literature explores the human experience, and how the English language conveys meaning.
Eleven schools from around the country participated in the event.
“I found the Writing for Social Media workshop very educational and entertaining. I learnt about the strategies of attracting a target audience. I also learnt about the importance of an English degree in this field, as everything in social media relies on the accurate use of the English language,” said Alaa Yasser, a student of grade 11 from Al Durah International School.
Other engaging workshops held for the participants included Language, Technology and Sound Recognition; Quizlet.live, an Online Gamification Competition; Electronic Literature through Digital Storytelling, and many more.
One of the highlights of the event, Pepper, the humanoid robot, proved a popular attraction. As Dr. Maher Bahloul, Associate Professor of English, explained: “We brought a robot to campus to show that it is thanks to linguists and computer scientists that such machines function. All fields of language and technology ought to be highlighted.”
He added: “Nowadays, students underestimate the power of language in favor of technical skills. However, with English turning into a Lingua Franca, oral, written and media literacy are skills very relevant to personal and professional success.”
AUS English Day was held as part of the Sharakah program under which AUS has signed Memorandums of Understanding with a number of secondary schools in the UAE whereby the university offers workshops to teachers and students; patronage of selected research, cultural, social and sporting activities and events organized by the Sharakah partner school; awards partial scholarships to deserving students selected from lists provided by the schools; and offers university preparation courses, including SAT and TOEFL preparation courses, as well as recruitment of outstanding students from varied sociocultural and economic backgrounds to AUS.
Zeina Younes, English teacher at Greenwood International School, said: “The presenters at the event used a blended learning approach, combining technology and face-to-face instruction. This approach made the teaching more entertaining and engaging for the students.”ENDS.