October 12, 2018
TESOL HOME Convention Jobs Book Store TESOL Community
Fatima Shahabuddin and Zakia Sarwar, SPELT, Pakistan

Fatima Shahabuddin

Zakia Sarwar

The Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (SPELT) has been a proud TESOL Affiliate since 1989. SPELT’s distinctive feature is that as a teachers’ association, established by a group of visionary and enthusiastic teachers in a country with very limited resources, it has remained undaunted by the challenges it has faced since its inception in 1984. It constantly remains on the lookout for identifying and offering a variety of initiatives to support teachers’ professional development. It has created innovative ways to meet the needs of its members, such as its Travelling Conference; attaching itself to Cambridge University UK for ESOL Awards ICELT training; and taking out a ‘hybrid journal.’ As George Kormpas from TESOL Greece says, “A unique feature of SPELT is that it shows diversity and equity towards its members.”

As always, SPELT has a jam-packed schedule of activities planned for the year 2018, some of which have already taken place, while some are at various stages of preparation and implementation.

Regular and Specialised Sessions & Teacher Training

SPELT regularly holds two-hour academic sessions on the last Saturday of every month. This has been a regular feature since its start in 1984. These sessions are offered free to members and non-members alike, in order to help introduce ELT concepts and modern methodology to teachers in a country where ELT is as yet a developing field. The presenters volunteer to share their expertise with practicing and aspiring teachers in an effort to enhance the professional development of their peers.

From January to May, five sessions have been conducted in which 111 teachers have participated. The topics covered are: Keeping Students Engaged and Involved in the ELT Classroom, Constructivist Approach for Effective Teaching, Motivation - The Neglected Heart of Language Teaching, The Role of Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) in ELT, and Struggling Readers in the Classroom. Sessions for June to August will be conducted on the following: Nurturing Critical Thinkers, How to Teach Language Through Tech Tools, Immersive Technology and Google for Education, and Shaping Lessons for 21st Century Learning Needs. The presenters and topics for the September to December sessions are in the process of being finalised.

In addition to the academic sessions, SPELT also regularly conducts workshops for a nominal fee; these workshops are of various duration. This year, January-June, 2018 SPELT conducted seven workshops, ranging from 2 to 18 hours in duration, in which 93 teachers participated. The topics of these workshops were: Fun Approach to Teaching and Learning Grammar, The Future is Now, Presenting at International Conferences: Everything you Need to Know, Writing Effectively: Where to Begin, 4 Kinds of Dictation for Listening and Learning, Writing Prompts for Speaking and Writing, and Holistic Language Teaching Using Cloze Passages.

Seven more workshops are planned for the July to December period, covering topics such as: Task-Based Learning, Enhancing Confidence in Spoken English, Using the Textbook Effectively, Handling Teaching Challenges, ELT and Dyslexia, and Classroom Management. Additionally, as always, a number of pre and post conference institutes are being planned for the SPELT Annual International Conference in November 2018.

As mentioned earlier, the ICELT course, certified by Cambridge University, UK, is conducted by SPELT every year, allowing teachers to achieve international accreditation at nominal rates. Sixteen participants registered for the 2017-2018 session of this course.

Annual SPELT Travelling Conference 2018

In 2018, SPELT will continue its trail blazing tradition of the Travelling Conference. This year’s theme is “Engaging the 21st Century Learner”. The inaugurating conference will be held in Karachi, on November 3 & 4, after which speakers will set out for the marathon ‘road show’ with simultaneous conferences in Lahore, Islamabad, and Abbottabad, on November 10 & 11. Dr John Liontas, Editor TESOL Encyclopaedia, will be the keynote speaker. In addition to Dr. Ron Thomson, from the Brock University, Ontario, Canada, plenary speakers from the US include Mary E.Trudell (Beth), ELT Specialist; Dr Judy Sharkey, University of New Hampshire; and Dr Madhu Sherma, Mount Wachusett Community College; and Gardner, MA.. Dr Habib Ullah Pathan, Director, Language Education, Mehran University, Jamshoro, will be the plenary speaker from Pakistan.

Arifa Rehman, from BELTA, Bangladesh, a plenary speaker at the 2017 conference, describes the “SPELT’s Traveling Conference as a unique concept that has been successfully implemented for years now with the idea that “If teachers can’t come to the conference, the conference goes to the teachers! Dr. Christine Coombe, SPELT’s Keynote speaker at the 2017 conference, concurs that, “The idea of bringing the conference (its speakers) to the teachers in different cities is a great one.” Plenary and featured speakers are scheduled by SPELT to present at some or all of these venues; accordingly, dates, time slots, and presentations are juggled so as to enable the maximum number of these presenters to present in multiple cities. All this requires immense planning and detailed organizing for effective implementation. Among other things, SPELT has a strong network of members that provide home hospitality to the invited international speakers and national presenters from other areas in the country. The Travelling Conference in 2018 is expected to impact over 2500 teachers in Pakistan.

Accepting the centrality of mother tongue education in early years, SPELT will continue to hold a strand on Urdu language teaching and has additional strands on leadership, research, special children’s education, and SFL in the 2018 conference.

Affiliates are welcome to look for more details of this tantalizing conference on the following links:



Quarterly journal, e-bulletin, textbook writing

SPELT publishes a quarterly Journal, and a complimentary copy of which is sent to all its members. However, to increase communication with its members, partners, friends, and supporters, SPELT is planning to launch a monthly e-bulletin from July 2018, marking its entry in the 35th year of its sometimes turbulent but mainly jubilant existence. Through this e-bulletin, SPELT will share news about ELT events and about SPELT activities. We would like to invite TESOL affiliates to share their activities and events in our e-bulletin.

Over the years, SPELT has also been working with the public sector organizations in various areas. One such area is writing textbooks for use in public sector schools in Sindh, one of the provinces of Pakistan. Textbooks are published by the Sindh Textbook Board, a government organization and are provided free of cost to the students studying in the public sector schools. So far, textbooks have been written for grades I to VIII, one book per year, by a select group of teachers, who are mentored and guided by SPELT. The textbook for class IX has now been written and is expected to go into print in 2018.

Representation at the TESOL Convention in Chicago

Founder members, Zakia Sarwar and Fauzia Shamim, who are also SPELT Board members, represented SPELT at TESOL this year. They set up the SPELT Booth and also co-organized a panel discussion on Sustaining Dialogue with the TESOL Community: Role of Affiliates. The panellists were Aymen-al Shaikh (TESOL Africa and TESOL Sudan), Arifa Rahman (BELTA, Bangladesh), Christine Coombe and Naziha Ali (TESOL UAE), and Rajni Badlani (ELTAI, India), and it was moderated by Fauzia Shamim. This panel discussion was, in a way a continuation of an ongoing dialogue between regional affiliates. Prior to this, several dialogues and workshops involving regional affiliates from the Asian-African region have taken place, the last one being in Karachi, Pakistan, when a Teachers’ Association meeting was dovetailed with the Annual SPELT Conference 2017. Such platforms for discussion are crucial for the Affiliates as they provide them with an opportunity to discuss and reflect, bringing them closer in their goal of improved teaching-learning of English in their countries/ region.

Fauzia Shamim, the incoming Chair for the TESOL Research Professional Council (RPC), also co-organized the TESOL Research Fair 2018, along with Dr Judy Sharkey. Zakia Sarwar mainly attended the Affiliate events, but both of them were at the SPELT Booth to talk about SPELT and to answer any queries. As many SPELTers would do, Shahid Abrar, a SPELTer from Islamabad, currently at the Brock University, Canada, introduced a number of prospective presenters to the two SPELT representatives, some of whom will be participating in SPELT’s travelling conference 2018.

At this year’s TESOL convention, SPELT was also proud that one of its ICELT trainees, Saima Abedi, won the coveted TESOL’s Betty Azar Grant for Practicing EFL/ESL Teachers for 2018. She also won the IATEFL Macmillan Education Scholarship and represented SPELT at the IATEFL Conference 2017 in the UK.

SPELT would love to collaborate with other TESOL Affiliates, or become a sister organization. Please contact speltheadoffice@gmail.com


Fatima Shahabuddin is a life member of SPELT. She has been a member of the Working (Executive) Committee of SPELT for more than 30 years. She has been the Programme and Conference Coordinator and has been involved in developing various papers related to SPELT working. She works at the Aga Khan University, Karachi. Her professional involvements include textbook writing, curriculum development, teacher training, academic writing support, and editing academic papers.

Zakia Sarwar is a founding member SPELT and is an Honorary Executive Director known as “Mother SPELT.” She has taught language and literature at a Women’s College in Pakistan for over 45 years. Her interests are facilitating Learner Autonomy through PBL in large classes, materials development and TA networking. She is also a veteran TESOLer since 1989. She was Chair EFL IS and Chair of the Standing Committee, Global Professional Issues in TESOL.

« Previous Newsletter Home Print Article Next »
In This Issue
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Print Issue
RSS Feed
Upcoming Affiliate Conferences

For additional conference information or to submit an event, visit the Worldwide Calendar of Events online.

October 2018

November 2018