Lebanese American University


Learning to read

DELI hosts a seminar centered on critical thinking and finding solutions for children with reading problems.

Dr. Updegraff addressing the audience.

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They say the best teachers are those who cleverly show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.

It was in this spirit that over 260 teachers from all over the country attended a seminar at LAU entitled “Critical Thinking and Children with Reading Problems” on March 15. The event was orchestrated by LAU Department of English Language Instruction in collaboration with All Prints Distributors and Publishers.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Nancy Updegraff, international consultant with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Updegraff is a specialist in teacher training and grant writing and holds degrees in urban education, English, learning disabilities, reading, psychology and professional development.

Updegraff considered what is at stake with empowering students to be critical, independent readers. “It’s very important to allow students to raise open questions with more than one possible answer and encourage them to adopt their own perspectives and come to their own conclusions,” said Updegraff. She went on to say that teachers should gently encourage students to offer interpretations and support those claims with reasons, and base the reasons on demonstrable evidence.

For students with unfortunate reading problemsshe recommended targeted strategies to overcome comprehension difficulties. These included analyzing vocabulary to derive meaning, questioning the author, and reciprocal reading levels.

Dr. Rula Diab, associate professor of English at LAU Beirut and chairperson of DELI was thrilled to host this highly successful event. “Strengthening students’ English skills is one of the goals of our department,” she said. “Having such a large number of educators network with one another and share their experience is a valuable learning opportunity.”

Participants expressed great satisfaction at the caliber of the speaker. “I have attended a lot of workshops throughout the past five years,” says Lara Al Jannoun, an English teacher at Khaled Bin al Walid al Horg College, “but today’s workshop was amazing.”

DELI was established during Fall 2012-2013 and offers intensive, remedial, and freshman English courses. The Department aims at promoting students’ English language proficiency and communication skills, for academic as well as professional and specific purposes.



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