By Sarah Goodman
Rabat – The southern Moroccan city of Laayoune will host its first international conference on English Language Teaching (ELT), from April 27-29, at the local Superior School of Technology.
The city’s branch of the nationwide Moroccan Association of Teachers of English (MATE) organized and will oversee the conference, in conjunction with the regional academy of education and training, Laayoune Saqya Lhamra.
Speaking to Morocco World News, the head of the conference’s academic committee, Lahcen Tighoula, called the event the “first of its kind” in Laayoune, and hopes that the conference will help local English teachers to “take their experience further and meet the challenges that face English language learning and teaching in the region.”
The conference’s theme, “Promoting ELT: Local and Global Dimensions,” reflects the conference’s outward-looking focus, bringing together an assembly of national and international speakers from as far away as Greece, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
Marisa Constantinides, a panelist and Director of Studies of CELT in Athens, Greece, told Morocco World News, “We are a global community of educators and this is our time to learn from one another without borders and restrictions. Education has suddenly opened up to include everyone through the use of technology and the ability to connect globally.”
Constantinides also commended the conference’s gender parity, noting that the majority of ELT practitioners worldwide are women, and are often underrepresented in ELT conferences.
“I salute the committee for having included three female plenary speakers in the lineup! This is wonderful for the community of ELT practitioners,” she told Morocco World News.
However, the three-day event also brings together diverse pedagogical perspectives from across Morocco: educators from Laayoune will convene alongside professors from Ifrane’s Al Akhawayn University.
In addition to the range of panel presentations, the conference will also include 10 presentations, six workshops tailored to the needs of EFL teachers, two workshops for EFL students, and a keynote address, “Back to the Future of Learning Technologies,” delivered by Irish scholar Gráinne Conole.
Tighoula called pedagogical innovation “a ‘must’ in a changing world not only to meet the needs of the local student population…but also to face the challenges of technology, media, and global citizenship education.”
Laayoune MATE has been active in the region for the last decade, and organizes a range of programming for educators and students, such as seminars for teachers, Spelling Bee championships, public speaking contests, and other student leadership activities.
The papers, workshops, and debates will culminate in recommendations for ELT stakeholders.