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A Glance At The Collaboration Between Akademi Pengajian Bahasa, UiTM Sabah Branch And The Embassy Of The United States Of America

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), through Akademi Pengajian Bahasa (APB) or, in English, the Academy of Language Studies, UiTM Sabah Branch

has a long history of collaboration with the Embassy of the United States in Malaysia. One of the collaborative efforts is the English Language (EL) Fellow Program. The most recent was a four-term cycle program involving two fellows from 2017 to 2021 consecutively.

The EL Fellow program utilizes the expertise of highly qualified U.S. educators in the field of English Language Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The fellowship is a 10-month-long program held at academic institutions throughout the world. The program fosters mutual understanding, promotes English language learning, and builds English teaching capacity abroad. EL Fellows share their professional expertise, hone their skills, gain international experience, and learn about other cultures through projects supported by US embassies in many countries. To date, EL Fellows have completed projects in more than 80 countries. The projects include Classroom Teaching, Teacher Training, In-Service and Pre-Service Training, Curriculum Development, Workshop and Seminar Design, Program Evaluation, Needs Assessment, Testing, and English for Specific Purposes (ESP).

Naturally, we were delighted to receive two EL fellows who served for two years consecutively at UiTM Sabah, Kota Kinabalu Campus. Ms Graves, the first fellow, worked on projects in all five administrative divisions of the state of Sabah, as well as districts in other Malaysian states, during her tenure. Many of these initiatives were featured in local newspapers and on social media. However, her successor, Ms Hagy was forced to teach remotely from her home state of California when the whole nation was put under a Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to students, the EL fellows provided them with valuable experiential learning opportunities with native speakers for which they were grateful.

As we continue building bridges, the fellowship program is back in business. Our present EL Fellow, Ms Laura Hancock from Michigan, USA, arrived in Sabah in December 2022 and has since been very active in conducting workshops for students and lecturers. In addition, the US embassy continuously extends invitations to collaborate on projects and keeps us in the loop of new programs and initiatives. Since 2019, they have consistently supported and sponsored APB lecturers to the TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo annually. In March of 2022, all APB lecturers attended a virtual conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Apart from that, the embassy, as a conference partner, flew in a keynote speaker, Dr Levine, an English Specialist, for the 6th Malaysian International Conference on Academic Strategies in English Language Teaching (My_CASELT) and the 3rd Language Invention, Innovation, and Design Exposition (LIID). The international conference, which took place at the Pacific Sutera Hotel in Sutera Harbour, Kota Kinabalu, was a resounding success in every way.

As a result of these collaborative efforts, our academic staff were provided with numerous opportunities to integrate their knowledge with current trends in the field while developing a professional network. It is hoped that our close ties with the embassy will continue to benefit both parties in the coming years.


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