Between 22-24 January 2015 two faculty members, IFP Programme Coordinator, Racquel Warner, and IFP Lecturer, Mick King, were busy at Engquest International’s 6th Confluence Conference, held at TGP College of Engineering & Technology in Nagpur, India. Engquest International is an affiliate of TESOL Arabia, a UAE-based professional teaching organization which each year runs one of its events at Middlesex University Dubai. Confluence aims to attract teachers of English as a second language from both India and abroad. As Nagpur is in the centre of India, the concept of the conference name is that there is a confluence of ideas converging on India’s heartland. Both Racquel and Mick were invited keynote speakers for the conference sessions. Racquel delivered a plenary on student engagement while Mick spoke of the challenges of securing international employment in TESOL.
In addition to these plenaries, Racquel and Mick conducted a series of teacher training workshops. This was an initiative proposed by Mick, who had visited the conference previously and one which was enthusiastically seconded by the organizing secretary, Dr. Anjali Gaikwad-Patil. According to Dr. Gaikwad-Patil, such opportunities for professional development are rare in the region. For this reason, under the banner of the Middlesex University Teaching Fellowship and in conjunction with the TESOL Arabia Teacher Training and Development Special Interest Group, which is chaired by Racquel, five hours of workshops were conducted to 17 trainees. Themes covered were student engagement, group work, innovative grammar teaching and use of mobile devices in the classroom. Feedback was very positive. Dr. Gaikwad-Patil shared, “The response to your workshops was fabulous! The ones who were there all told me how great it was and how they were able to take away a lot from it” (email communication). She also shared plans for workshops with the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, for next year.
It is hoped that this small outreach project can have a snowball effect to encourage teaching professionals to conduct their own training workshops in the region. It also opens the possibility for such workshops to be offered in the future where Middlesex faculty can be involved. In sum, it was a fruitful experience for all concerned and has helped spread awareness of Middlesex University Dubai in a new context.