I'm Avi Arditti and this week on WORDMASTER: meet an English teacher in
the United Arab Emirates. She stopped by the VOA Special English booth
at the recent TESOL convention, for Teachers of English to Speakers of
Other Languages. It took place in Denver, Colorado.
AA: "Tell me your name and a little bit about yourself."
MOUHANNA: "My name's Leila Mouhanna. I'm a teacher at a foundations
program at a university in the U.A.E, of Lebanese background, raised in
AA: "And what age do you teach?"
LEILA MOUHANNA: "Nineteen-, twenty-year-old girls."
AA: "Tell me a little bit about English teaching in the Emirates right now, the state of English teaching."
MOUHANNA: "There's a big push by the government to promote English as a
foreign language. So eighty percent of the U.A.E.'s population are
foreigners, so there's a big push to get English just for communication
purposes. Also, it's becoming -- it's a globalized country, they need
it for economic reasons. So it's very important."
AA: "And what
about the resources you have, Internet or educational materials, what
do you find works? What do you personally have the most success with in
LEILA MOUHANNA: "Possibly the best way is
probably having an eclectic approach to the resources, the kinds of
resources that you use with your students. I don't just focus on using
one textbook. It's a variety of different materials from all over the
place -- you know, YouTube or Internet resources, textbooks from a
variety of places. So, yeah, pretty much everything."
AA: "You mentioned YouTube, the video-sharing Web site. How can English teachers use YouTube in the classroom?"
MOUHANNA: "I've just used it just to build field knowledge about
different topics that students need to write about. So, for example,
they had to write an essay about nuclear power. So we'd look at
different video footage of catastrophes that have happened all over the
world using nuclear power and things like that. And that gets them to
build their vocabulary, to build knowledge about the field, and then to
transfer that knowledge and get them to write about it."
it's interesting, you're using video -- it sounds like mostly for
listening comprehension, although also for the material. But it occurs
to me, you've got sites now obviously like YouTube, millions of videos
available. I wonder if the fifth skill would now be visual
comprehension. There's reading, writing, listening and speaking, and
now, when you have video, does that add kind of a fifth dimension to
LEILA MOUHANNA: "Well, [there's] critical literacy,
the visual literacy, but there's always the time constraints, so you
can't really get into it. But I've never really had a big issue with
it. My students really love television, really love using the Internet,
so they're very technologically savvy."
AA: "And I'm assuming -- do some of your students use Twitter and Facebook and MySpace and sites like that?"
MOUHANNA: "Yes, yes. But I don't venture into any of these Web sites. I
think it's a bit iffy, I think it's a bit problematic."
"Well, let's talk briefly about social media sites. I know a lot of
teachers use those for English teaching. What do you see as the sort of
pluses and minuses of using social media sites as a teaching resources?"
MOUHANNA: "Well, I personally would steer clear away from it, because
it can cause a lot of potential problems, especially coming from a very
traditional society, working with females. So it could cause a lot of
issues to arise that I wouldn't even contemplate initially."
AA: "But do your students, though, find it useful to them in their own learning?"
LEILA MOUHANNA: "I don't think they use it for learning. I think they use it as a social utility."
Leila Mouhanna from the United Arab Emirates is one of the teachers
we're introducing you to, from the recent TESOL convention in Denver,
Colorado. Tell us what you think about using social networking sites as
an English teaching resource. Your comments are welcome at
And you can now follow our weekly segments
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that's WORDMASTER for this week. I'm Avi Arditti.