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KARACHI, Oct 15: Two plenary sessions, an equal number of book launch events and an interesting dialogue highlighted Day Two of SPELT’s 27th international conference ‘ELT: Building Bridges’ at the Habib Education Centre here on Saturday.

The morning plenary session conducted by the Executive Vice-Rector of FC University, Lahore, Dr Cusrow J. Dubash, focused on four elements of effective teaching. His workshop titled ‘The teacher as a quadrilateral’ looked at the four attributes all teachers should bring with them to the teaching-learning scene.

These attributes — their own presence, knowledge, skills and management — make the four sides of a quadrilateral that may be a square, trapezium, parallelogram, rhombus, rectangle or kite. An exercise carried out during the workshop showed exactly what kind of four-sided each participant was and how much work he or she needed to balance out their teaching.

The afternoon plenary session was another engaging presentation by educational consultant and teacher of undergraduate and graduate-level courses in ‘leadership and communication’ at the University of Phoenix Dr Saman Hassan. Her interactive workshop ‘Turning on learning: a proactive approach’ spoke about differentiating instructions where the various participating educationists shared examples of how they adapted to their students’ way of learning keeping in mind that the students’ diverse backgrounds.

In between the sessions were the two book launch events. British Council’s collection of research articles ‘Dreams and Realities: Developing countries and the English language’, edited by Hywel Coleman, started a panel discussion among SPELT Executive Director Zakia Sarwar, Teachers Resource Centre Director Abbas Hussain, Fatima Shahabuddin, Dr Hina Hussain and British Council’s Country Advisor for English Ray Brown, who later also took in input about the subject from the audience.

Meanwhile, Dr Tariq Rahman’s ‘From Hindi to Urdu: A social and political history’ commenced the conference’s Urdu strand.

“Being teachers of English we are well aware of the importance of Urdu in our students’ lives,” said Zakia Sarwar in her introduction to the session. “We know that to build a child’s confidence, you need to start out his education in the mother tongue and then take it from there,” she added.

The book published by Oxford University Press is the end result of the linguist’s years of research on the evolution of Urdu from other languages, especially Hindi, something that is not discussed much in our circles. The book clears several myths associated with the language one of which happens to be a wrongly reported issue in many of our textbooks about the British not giving preference to Urdu. The reality is that they favoured and patronised Urdu.

The launch was more of an interview session with the author conducted by writer and scholar Raza Rumi.

An interesting dialogue: “Urdu se be-tawajjahi kyon?” between Dr Asif Farrukhi and Dr Arfa Syeda moved the Urdu strand forward while keeping the audience entertained.

Talking about herself, she said that she wanted to do her MA in Urdu but was discouraged by her professors until she explained to them that she dreamed of making something of herself to prove that you can do that even after specialising in Urdu. “I started learning English from class six onwards but have never experienced any difficulty with the English language as I easily make the connection between both languages. It’s easy to raise walls but difficult to build bridges,” she said finally. And Asif Farrukhi concluded with, “But we here are busy building the walls around ourselves!”