Malaysia: Ideas galore!

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun May 11 21:05:36 UTC 2008

Ideas galore! This year's Melta conference will explore issues related
to various types of literacies.

THE 17th Melta International Conference that will be held at three
different venues this year – Sabah, Penang and Selangor – promises to
be an exciting and inspiring one for those involved in the teaching
and learning of English. The theme, "English Language and Multiple
Literacies", touches on an essential aspect of education for an
individual to succeed in life – the need to be literate in more ways
than one. Traditionally, literacy is defined as being able to read and
write. Today, it has taken on a wider dimension as it also encompasses
the ability to use technology to communicate successfully in an
increasingly technologically sophisticated world. To be "computer
literate" is to equip oneself with computer skills so that one can use
the computer to its fullest advantage.

Similarly, to be "language literate" means that one is able to make
use of language skills to communicate ideas and messages effectively
(through speaking and writing), as well as to receive information and
acquire new knowledge (through reading and listening). Learners today
need to acquire multiple literacies. It is with this in mind that the
Melta conference will gather educators and researchers from all over
the country and the world to look at issues related to multiple
literacies. Computer literacy is clearly a vital aspect of empowerment
as it offers one access to the world via the Internet and opens up
infinite opportunities for acquiring new skills and knowledge.

Teachers who want to learn more about how computers can enhance
language teaching and develop other forms of literacy are invited to
attend the conference, in particular, the sessions on multimedia
literacy, online activities, Internet usage for language teaching and
CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning). Among the papers that will
be presented are "Wikispaces: A Roundtable for Discussion in the ESL
Language Classroom" (in Selangor), "Writing Online Journals – A Case
Study" (Sabah) and "Strategies for Teaching with Multimedia
Courseware" (Penang). Besides presentations on the teaching of
vocabulary and grammar, and language assessment, researchers involved
in policy making will also share research findings with participants
at the conference.

Other forms of literacy to be highlighted are language literacy in
science and mathematics, specific purpose applications, creative
literacy, workplace literacy and soft skills development. Participants
can also attend workshops for hands-on training. A number of workshops
have been lined up, including one on "Creating Ideas, Creating
Stories" (Sabah and Penang) and another entitled "Incentives for
learning: Language acquisition and music in ELT" (Selangor). A
presentation on an e-learning site for the teaching of primary and
secondary school Science in English has also been slotted in for
participants at all three venues.

The keynote speakers include Deputy Education Minister Datuk Razali
Ismail (who will kick-start the conference in Selangor), Universiti
Sains Malaysia vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak (who
will speak in Penang) and Education Ministry deputy director-general
(Schools) Datuk Noor Rezan Bapoo Hashim, who will be presenting the
keynote address in Sabah. Plenary speakers include Universiti Putra
Malaysia's Assoc Prof Dr Edwin Vethamani, who will present a paper
entitled "Resource-based Programmes in English Language Education:
Concept, Implementation and Effectiveness" at all three venues.

Dr Lesley Harbon and Dr Ann Cheryl Armstrong from Australia and Dr
Catherine Wallace from the University of London will be giving their
plenary presentations in Sabah. Melta has also invited various
researchers involved in literacy and language teaching to share their
ideas, including Prof Dr Hyacinth Gaudart, Prof Dr Kuldip Kaur, Assoc
Prof Dr Lee Su Kim and Prof Aurelio P. Vilibar. Although the
conference is primarily for those involved in the education industry,
parents of school-going children who are keen to find out more about
literacy and how to improve their children's literacy levels are also
invited to attend.

The conference will be held in Gurney Hotel, Penang (May 26 and 27),
Palace of the Golden Horses at the Mines, Selangor (May 30 and 31),
and Le Meridien, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (June 5 and 6). For details,
visit, call 03-8944 1027 or e-mail
melta at
The Star is the media sponsor for the conference.

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