Abeer Ali Okaz
Who is she?
Abeer Ali Okaz is an Educational and Training Development Consultant at Pharos University in Alexandria, where she also works as Director of the English Language Centre and as CELTA Centre Manager, and CELTA Tutor. Her career as a teacher and teacher trainer began in the late 1990s, after majoring in English Literature at Purdue University in the United States, and obtaining a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the American University in Cairo.
For several years, Abeer collaborated with the non-profit organisation Amideast, which promotes international training and education in the Middle East and North Africa. As a teacher trainer, a course designer and a university instructor, her experience of training local teachers, designing materials, assessing exams and developing course curricula led to collaboration with a number of institutions, including the American University in Cairo and the Arab Academy for Science and Technology. Abeer has dedicated much of her energy to supporting teachers in their practice, through CELTA and DELTA training in countries such as Egypt, the United States, Ukraine, Ireland, and Saudi Arabia. Her commitment to mentoring teachers also led her in 2013 to study for a Certificate in Leadership and Coaching from Vancouver Community College and she continues to observe lessons and provide guidance and feedback.
Abeer is a consultant for TransformELT, NILE and EAQUALS, focusing in particular on developing language teaching materials and testing materials. An active member of English Without Borders, IATEFL, ELT Ireland and Nile TESOL, Abeer also reviews manuscripts for the Journal of Education and Learning.
Abeer Ali Okaz
The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher’s Course.
Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman.
Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language.
How Languages are Learned.
Patsy M. Lightbown and Nina Spada.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Carol S. Dweck.
Second Language Acquisition.
Susan M Gass and Larry Selinker.
Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching.
Education Assessment of Students.
Anthony Nitko and Susan Brookhart.
On Managing People.
Place in HLT
Long before the dramatic impact of Covid-19, Abeer had already been advocating for the integration of ICT tools and more traditional teaching approaches, moving towards blended forms of teaching and learning. As she puts it, “Technology supports differentiation” (source), as it can engender different expressive channels for students, through tools such as blogs or forums. It also allows for self-paced learning, thereby encouraging independence and autonomy for the student, who is given a degree of control in the pedagogic process.
Abeer feels that the use of ICT resources such as Padlet tends to motivate students and stimulate high levels of interaction, thus generating more collaboration and the consequent development of higher-level thinking skills. She recognises that students already use online platforms and resources outside the classroom and that this has significantly impacted on how they communicate, interact and learn in their everyday lives. In her view, teaching should adjust to these changes in students’ communication choices, relational modes, attention span and memory retention dynamics.
Acknowledging the challenges this might pose for teachers, in her talk, A Journey Through Time (2021), Abeer outlined how staff at Pharos University had to quickly adapt their practice at the start of the pandemic, reassessing teaching systems and training programmes. As she describes, the confidence gap in the use of technology among staff became a platform for collaboration and idea-sharing among teachers and administrative staff alike, thus generating the kind of engaged collective learning that is encouraged in language teaching. These dynamics simultaneously encouraged staff to become more responsible for their own learning and training, recalling the empowered learning processes fostered in humanistic teaching. For Abeer, the conscientious use of ICT tools therefore has much to offer in any language teaching approach that promotes self-determination, self-motivation and collaborative learning, and she believes that technology, in its blended form, is “here to stay”.