ELT International Conference at Hodeidah University [Archives:2003/676/Education]
The second International Conference on English studies (7-9 October) organized by Hodeidah University looked at the issues surrounding Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) from a variety of perspectives. The conference, which was attended by scholars from Yemen and India as well as from Sri Lanka, UAE and Iran, evoked enthusiastic response among the students and local teachers. As Prof. Chhanda Roy, the chairperson of the English department, said, ” the ongoing conference is the continuation of the dream the faculty saw last year”. The presentations, discussions, scintillating interventions and the range of ramifying concerns in the successive sessions covered a lot of ground in the discipline of English studies as well as unfolded a roadmap for the future.
In his keynote address Prof. Thiru Kandiah, professor of English at the University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka), underlined the significance of head-on engagement with the material realities in the process of evolving homegrown traditions of ELT and appropriate teaching technology. This can be done by resisting the workings of the global ELT industry and its ” teleological prescriptions.” The need of the hour is, he argued, is to move beyond interrogation to the kind of negotiation which can effect real, context-specific changes in the world of ELT.
In his lucid and eminently accessible submission Prof. Damodar Thakur, chairman of the English Department, Faculty of Arts, Sana'a University, referred to the serious problems of reliability, particularly in countries with limited resources. Pressing his point further, Prof. Thakur said that a number of devices like analytic reading,moderation meeting, a judicious construction of rating scales, ongoing monitoring of rater performance and training scheme for raters have been suggested to ensure a high degree of rater reliability during the last few decades but these packages are expensive and often ineffective. He made a strong plea for tests which are neither too atomistic and reductionism nor maximally inclusive of the features of discourse so that validity and reliability can be ensured.
The keynote addresses embraced the issues involved in the theory and practice of Translation too. Basil Hatim, who teaches in the American University, Sharjah. (UAE), engaged with the notion of purpose in translation from several perspectives. As a counterpoint, Dr Said Faiq, focused on the role of translators as agents working within particular socio-cultural contexts of patronage. He pointed out how constraints and disciplinary demands of a socio-culturally defined master discourse with its centripetal pressures affect translation. Quite legitimately, inter-cultural translation, particularly between dominant and subaltern cultures, demonstrates the need for an interface of translation studies and critical discourse analysis in order to analyze the complex processes inherent in translating across cultures.
In the video-presented paper of Robert De Beaugrande the theme of the Conference was extensively itemized and explicated. According to him, critical discourse analysis (CDA) should be understood as a mode of dialectical thinking, a critical perspective rather than a uniform and well)defined methodology. It urges resistance to power and reconciliation between theory and practice in a more just and human social order. Notably, the reading practice required for this exercise designates discourse as all modes ,means, and events of human communication and interaction, not simply a set of grammatical sentences in English nor just a coherent stretch of language.
Basing her submission on the current theoretical assumptions behind CDA, Dr Khawlah K.N. Ahmed, dean, faculty of arts, Hodeidah University, argued that theories and practices like Critical Discourse Analysis do not hold much potential for English literature teaching in EFL/ESL context. On the other hand, Prof. Ashok Kumar Sinha demonstrated how insights found in the literature on CDA can be used for informed textual analysis and enrichment of literature pedagogy.
Prominent among the issues discussed were contemporary critical discourses such as postcolonialism with a particular reference to Amitav Ghosh's narrative In an Antique Land (1992) by Dr Murari Prasad, Faculty of Education, Sadah, Sana'a University, Neo-historicism by Dr Sadeq R Mohammead, Ibb University, mother-tongue)English bilingualism in the countries of the ” expanding circle” by prof. Raj N Bakshi, ethnography of communication and dramatic discourse by Shefali Bakshi, the dynamics of media discourse in Yemen by Prof. Vinod S. Dubey and women's writing and feminist poetics by Dr Indu Bhushan Sharma of Hodeidah University.
Among other presentations of note were papers by Dr M.N.K. Bose (Ibb University), Prof. B. Krishnamurthy , Dr K. Thiagarajan and Dr Hamoud Kadha ( Hodeidah University) , as well as the contributions by Ehya Amal Saleh of Shiraz University (Iran), Javed Gholamy of Tabriz University(Iran) , Leila Razmjou of Maragheh Azad University (Iran) , and R. Vivekanandan (Ibb University).
Kudos to Prof. Chhanda Roy, her backroom boys and her colleagues, particularly Dr C. Srinivasan)- a veritable live wire)- for the logistics and technical support with state-of-the-art inputs to make the conference a grand success. In the end , the president of Hodeidah University , Prof. Abdallah Ahmed Gunaid, and the Dean , Faculty of education, Hodeidah, Dr Ibrahim Omer Hugari eminently deserve congratulations for marshalling resources to organize this ambitious conference in a city of modest infrastructure and in an institution of modest means.