By Amine Mechaal
By Amine Mechaal
Essaouira – The city of Essaouira hosted the Moroccan Association of Teachers of English (MATE) for its 35th Annual Conference April 5-8, 2015, at Hotel Ryad Mogador, under the theme “ELT in the New Millennium: Potential, Aspirations and Challenges.”
Several important persons attended the first day of the conference: Rebecca Smoak, the American Regional English Language Officer (RELO) in Morocco, Jamal Makhtatar, governor of the Essaouira region, Mr. Ahmed El-Ghannami, delegate of the Ministry of Education in Essaouira region, and Belqasmi, the general secretary of MEN. Also in attendance was a diverse panel of speakers and presenters and a significant audience of local and international English-language professors, teachers, and teacher-trainees from around Morocco.
The conference began with an opening ceremony led by MATE’s President, Mr. Noureddine Bendouqi, who is also an English-language teaching (ELT) supervisor. The opening speeches were delivered by the representatives of the ministry and the governor of Essaouira, followed by a keynote speech by one of the forerunners of ELT in Morocco, Pr. Mohamed Mellouk. His speech highlighted the current situation of English in Morocco, and the new position of English as a Lingua Franca.
The second day started with a plenary session moderated by Mr. Amlouk, and was marked by different presentations. “The role of English in Academic Mobility” was the first, given by Pr. Mohammed Larouz, Faculty of Arts and Humanities in Meknés. Ahmed Chouari, also a professor at the same faculty, talked in his presentation about “Teaching Critical Thinking for the 21st Century.” “Reconsidering Values: a Missing Objective in ELT Curriculum in Moroccan Schools” was the topic of the presentation by Pr. Adil Azhar, a teacher trainer at Ecole Normale Supérieure of Rabat. Pr. Said Elmouhtarim, a professor in Beni Mellal, was the last speaker in the morning plenary session, who talked about “Teaching English to young learners.” leaving the floor for the audience to ask questions and give their comments on what he discussed.
“Actually, this is my second time to a national MATE conference. For me, MATE is a school which has offered me the opportunity to learn many things: socializing, establishing networks, growing professionally, sharing and exchanging ideas …” explained Hamid Mernaoui, an English-language teacher in Laayoun.
Right after the plenary session, participants were invited to attend a poster exhibition prepared by ENS-Rabat teacher-trainees during the tea break, then, they had the chance to attend ten concurrent workshops led by different high school teachers, who tried to share their experiences in teaching with the attendees in a very creative manner.
“I think one of the best things about this conference is that feeling of belonging. It’s my first time to attend a MATE conference and it was great … I felt at home while being surrounded by all those English-language teachers, who are like me,” commented Zakaria Hatarbach, a Teacher-trainee at the ENS – Rabat.
The afternoon plenary session was marked by the delivery of four presentations dealing with different topics related teaching English. After a short discussion, participants were invited, for a second time, to attend the poster-exhibition, during which they were asking questions and received answers from the posters presenters.
“For me, the best part about MATE conference is networking,” said Salah-eddine Salmi, MA student at Ibn Zohr University. “We got to meet teachers, researchers and experts in the field of teaching English, and we got to learn a lot from each other; exchange ideas and experiences. It was really a rewarding experience.”
It is worth mentioning that the MATE is one of the leading associations in Morocco. It has always been known for its contributions to the field of teaching generally, and to teaching the English language in particular.
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