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Sultan Qaboos University, 2008
Student Affairs. Cultural and sports Activity
A fruitful journey to
Traditional Omani Stories..
... Factors and Solutions
Progressio is an Annual Newsletter published by the English and Translation Society (English Group) at Sultan Qaboos University. Deanship of Student Affairs, Cultural and sport Activity Department. 2008
Mathla ALWehaibi Hammal ALBulushi Zahra A'Shukaili
Dr. Adrian Rosco Dr. Janet Holst Mr. Badr ALJahwari
Design and layout
Mahmoud ALHosni Azza ALKindi Naqiya ALYahiai Taha ALFarsi
designers designer in chief
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "…the game is to say something new with old words". This saying inspired us when working on this issue. From the beginning we were aware that this issue is not the ﬁrst of its kind nor the last. However, it is done our own way; the English Group’s way. Our small baby got the tenderest touches of care. It was fed with love and dedication, and raised with high compassion and patience. What was once a helpless creature is put today on its best shape between your hands dear readers. Today, our baby is taking the ﬁrst step into adult's world. Therefore, despite how harsh your judgment may be, we request that you treat it the same way we did and not abandon it. For no matter how old it gets, it will always be our little peddler who required hard work from us to come into the real world in its current shape. This issue aims to reveal SQU students' creativity, working on it took two full semesters of hard work, collecting works written by students, selecting the best of them, checking every single word, designing the pages attractively, and the list goes on and on. Producing an issue of 34 pages, requires an unimaginable amount of strain and persistence. However, seeing the ﬁnal version of the issue ﬁlled us with pride. It is worth every minute we spent working on it. And we assure you that it is worth reading from cover to cover. At the end, we would like to express our gratitude for those who had dedicated their precious time and spent their strenuous efforts to support this work and help promoting it. Progressio Team
• If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org • English Group web-site: www.englishsqu.net .. Enjoy reading the magazine!
PROBATION at SQU
The Deanship of Admission and Registration shows that more than 250 students from various colleges at SQU were placed on Academic Probation in Fall 2006..
From a student to a
He found success when he followed the light of hope shining from the second ﬂoor of the College of Arts and Social Sciences, room 2422, the English Group’s ofﬁce..
Syrian Cultural Night
This event has noticeably bespoken the creativity and the abilities of the group’s members. Speciﬁcally, it was a great chance for the fresh blood of the group to unleash their hidden talents..
Traditional Omani Stories collected & Translated by: Hatim AL Taie..
e stops at a big glass window of a small store. His right hand rubs over the shoddy beard which covers almost all his face. His wide open eyes are staring at a big teddy bear exhibited for sale behind the window. The dreams and wishes of his life time have suddenly become alive and superior. An innocent smile reveals his upper tooth, expressing the joy of the indescribable art of the world and the intelligence of human beings in being capable of discovering the deep needs of the heart. He stretches out his hand, touches the window with his ﬁnger and follows the details of the teddy bear, as a mother who has ﬁrst touched her new born baby. The train leaves at 9:30 and he has got one hour left to catch it. "Excuse me sir.” he turns to a man standing next to him. "Did she pass from here? I can smell the scent of her perfume: vanilla and narcissus. The swing was moving when I woke up, but she wasn't there. Her red satin gown wasn’t in the closet either. Everything was organized. Everything was quiet except my heart. Its loud beating disturbed my busy mind. Even Suzi the bird was silent. Not as usual. Oh, I'm sorry sir. It seems you don't know her." Just a few steps away, a candy shop attracts his attention. He will never miss the chance to buy a lollipop again. The desires which ﬂamed within him have been severely repressed. He has to make it up this time With eyes full of joy and a tongue enveloped by voracity, he enters the shop. Forty minutes are left and the train will leave. He proceeds. His day dreams have penetrated reality and resided on heaven. The lollipop has loaded them with all the merits of innocence and all the virtues of purity. He stops by an old woman and says, "Did you see her? She took my heart with her. I want it back. I confess I didn't understand her sometimes. She was talking in a mysterious way like telling puzzles or jokes. She was a good story teller though. She was happy the night before she left. I have been looking for her for a week now, but no trace- no sign- nothing tells her place. She must have passed from here. No? I'm sorry but I'm not crazy. Thank you for listening anyway." He continues to walk and falls into a reverie. Hanging in the horizon at the door way of fantasy, he saw her face hiding behind the clouds. Its details and embodiments are not clear except the imperiousness which is glowing like ﬁre. He shouts "Why did you leave?" "I'm still alive enjoying my freedom." "But I can't continue without you"
"It's your fate and I can't change it." "I'll be lost again." "Go and look for another mother" "Why not you?" "What about my love?"
By: Azza ALKindi
"I don't respect the man who sees half of me, the half which any woman in the world can give. I refuse to be a guinea pig to your daft philosophies. My mind and dignity are more precious to me than to be a mother in a play with you as hero."
"It wasn't love. It was passion. Believe me, you will forget me and come to know others." "So, you won't return?" "Kill the kid inside you and I'll not return" Her face shines with whiteness and beauty that he has never seen before. It is triumph. He walks sand-blind and strays in the mazes of the unconscious mind looking for truth but never ﬁnds it. He reaches the train station. It is empty. His eyes capture no ﬁgures, no people but black smoke locking the vision of his destiny.
Is it mind over matter, or matter over mind?” the little boy kept asking himself. He found himself in another world where he had to live on his own. Jim was a lovely child, yet he did not receive that kind of love from his parents. His father foresook them leaving his wife and his little child alone. His mother could do nothing. With tears ﬁlling her eyes, she left her child on the porch of a big house, thinking that he would have a better life. He was a charming child; white illumination shining from his face as the sun rises in the East. A small mole appeared near his left eye giving him extra beauty. In contrary to what his mother had expected, the owner of the big house was a mean man who used to kidnap children and force them to work for him. Just like the other kids in the house, Jim was forced to lie, steal and even kill. His foster father noticed his ability to learn quickly, so he trained him to become his right arm. Now, he is a young man of 23 with a small mostache and sharp eyes. Jim established his own gang. His motto was “Hunt or be hunted” He became more of his master than a human being. Despite all these behaviors, something strange in his heart was annoying him. He could not understand it and it deprived him of the joy he found in murder and theft. Was it the awakening of his dead conscience? Once, Jim and his gang attacked a caravan. After killing all the occupants, Jim found a child covered with a white scarf. The smile of the child touched Jim’s heart. It was the same feeling that he could not understand before. Standing and observing the child, Jim did not know what to do. Should he take the child to lead a bestial life like his or should he leave him to his fate so that a better person could bring him up? His friends advised him to leave the child, but a strong relationship had been built between them. Was it because Jim went through the same experience of being alone? Did God give him the chance to awaken his conscience and make up for his sins? He decided to take the child with him, but he asked himself whether the child’s life would be a repetition of his, just killing and stealing. He did not know anything about the bright side of life, the side of love. To discover this side, he had to forget his past and start a new life with the child. He chose “Noble” as the child’s name.
Jim used to sleep beside Noble so that he could feel safe. Once, Jim had a strange dream which reminded him of his childhood, his master and his gang. In this dream, Jim saw himself in a ﬁerce war where all people were against him, even his friends. He was trying to protect Noble from them. He imagined his foster father taking Noble away from him. What could he do? He did not have any single weapon. At last, he decided to ﬁght with his bare hands. He held his foster father from his neck, pressing and using all his strength. Jim felt the soul of his foster father leaving his body. His master fell on the ground dead: “What a horrible dream it was!” Jim woke up to escape from his past. He looked at Noble. There was something strange about the child. Noble was not moving. He was out of breath...
By: Zahra A'Shukaili
The Last Morning
n a rainy morning of July, 2004, I woke up to my mother's sweet and harmonious voice which always gave me an extraordinary spirit. I looked through the window at the raindrops which were like shining pearls. I felt like a princess in a fairytale. I could sense the rays of happiness ﬂying all over the house. That day seemed too perfect to be real. I went to the institute where I taught during the summer vacation. I began teaching my students new techniques and I was very happy of the progress that I have made. After the ﬁrst class, I heard my phone ringing. It was home. I took it with a great enthusiasm. To my surprise, I heard voices crying and weeping. I answered furiously; ‘what happened? Tell me,” The reply was: “your mother is dead”. The phone fell down and broke into pieces. All my senses stopped. I was under a shock, whether to believe it or not. Can my mind accept it? The answer was no, no, no! I was shivering like a goat kept in rain. I started collecting my phone's parts clumsily and tried to call my sister but to make it worse; I was the ﬁrst person to tell her. That news was like a knife that went through my heart. I sat down on the ﬂoor, putting my hand around my legs and started a journey of thinking. I tried hardly to stop thinking, but how could I do so among these conﬂicting thoughts and feelings?. Then with a faithful heart, I walked to the main door of the institute waiting for somebody to take me home. Unmerciful drops fell down on my body like thorns but I did not move or take a step forward. I was overwhelmed by something more powerful. "Is this happening to me?" "Is it possible?" These were the questions that I asked myself a million times but there was no single answer. I was leaning on the wall of the institute like a bird without wings. My uncle showed up but not with the usual smile on his face. When I took a glance at him, tears did not stop neither from me nor from him. He came to me with open arms that reminded me of my mother's warm lap. He helped me to get into the car and all the way home we did not talk. We didn’t make eye contact until we reached home. I saw people weeping and moaning. I was passing them unconsciously to reach my mother's body. I was walking calmly without an expression on my face. I stepped forward and bowed toward her body. I kissed her strongly and then I felt hands taking me away from her, for good. All that time, I was hearing my weeping soul but never heard a voice from others around me. I was directed to join my brothers and sisters who were sitting like a hunch of meat, sticking to each other, begging her to come back, so that we can have a descent farewell.
By: Muna ALBattashi
We were like robots that people directed to set, to stand up, to sleep, and to do what they wanted us to do. People were moving, coming and going all the day.That helped in disturbing our feelings that day. However, at night there were none of them. Every corner and every movement reminded us of her. She printed her soul in the house without limitation. She planted her smiles and talks without a sense of leaving it so early. Our souls were tearing apart when we saw our little sister who was only six years old, crying. She could not grasp the meaning of such unusual departure. The eyes, the looks, and the bodies were suffering over this unexpected crisis. My father who never showed his tears, I saw him crying and weeping alone in the room that we were used to call it their room but now it's only his without a partner to share with, to talk to, and to show love to. Together they played the most harmonious symphony for more than twenty ﬁve years. But suddenly she left him alone. As the sun sat into darkness, the grieving family would set together and recall the memories of the mother we had lost, feel the spirit of her presence and share all the details. Unfortunately, these meetings would always end with the painful memories of her death. When that moment came, everyone was forced to silence and leave to his or her room where the real pain would likely to appear. Day after day, week after week, and year after year, the pain was being alleviated but the mother is still here in our hearts surrounded by an iron frame. Everyday we polish this frame with love and sincerity and by putting our faith on Allah, we realize that life has something happy to show us one day.
FROM A UNIVERSITY STUDENT TO A
N OV E L I S T
he English and Translation Society (ETS) is a special group which attracts talented and gifted students. It has always pushed students to be creative in many different ways. Its activities, which are run by students, have inspired a considerable number of previous university students. Saif alKindi was one such creative student inspired by ETS’ Creative Writing Workshop. That was the starting point of our hero. As a freshman, Saif Al-Kindi was unable to ﬁnd his way in the university and this problem lasted for two years. He vainly struggled to integrate himself into the university community. However, when he became a third year student, he found success when he followed the light of hope shining from the second ﬂoor of the College of Arts and Social Sciences, room 2422, the English Society’s ofﬁce. “Rasha Al-Maamari,” said Saif, “was the classmate who gave me a push towards my ﬁrst success in life. As she was in my writing classes, she noticed that I was creative and infomed group’s members about this. At the same time, she encouraged me to present one of my pieces to be discussed in the Creative Writing Workshop. I was surprised to hear that they immediately agreed to discuss it.” At the beginning, he found it difﬁcult to interact with the members since he was very shy and solitary. However, time can change many things. By attending every workshop and helping his colleagues organize the society’s activities, his personality changed completely.
He became more sociable and gregarious. After proving his abilities and skills, he himself became responsible for the Creative Writing Workshop. This kind of responsibility inspired him to write many fantastic pieces such as poems and short stories which he is now thinking about publishing in book form. When we asked Saif al-Kindi about his greatest achievements in the society, he said that he was still proud to be one of the members who organized the highly successful play “Pygmalion”. Saif, our hero, reached a peak of creativity when he became SQU’s ﬁrst student novelist. He started writing the English novel, “The Last Messenger”, when he was a fourth year student. When he told Faisel al-Balushi, the previous head of the society about this, Faisel encouraged him to ﬁnish it before the Open Day. Accordingly, he devoted his time and effort to ﬁnishing it and thus served us a perfect example of the saying “ Where there is a will, there is a way.” Saif succeeded in ﬁnishing his ﬁrst novel three days before the Open Day with giving credits to Dr. Roscoe for helping him to edit it.
Saif’s boat of success is still sailing in the sea of creativity. He started with a novel and then when he graduated, he began writing another novel. The boat’s voyage has not ended yet. Its skipper is still navigating it in spite of the strong waves and bad weather. He is becoming more sophisticated in writing. When the boat has ﬁnally anchored at an island he decided to write another novel, but this time about himself in an indirect way. So, we are going to read about the life of this sailor in a few months, god willing. Saif’s parting message to us was memorable, he said, “Enjoy your time at the university as much as you can because your life here is short and brief. Go ahead and do not worry about grades because there are things which when lost will never come back again, time and happiness. Join any society at the university.” Saif ended our conversation by saying, “Life is difﬁcult and beautiful at the same time, but we have to understand it.”
By: Ahmed ALRasbi
By: Azhar A'Zadjali
Strange … Life is strange The people and their acts They manipulate the facts Strange how life is arranged The world is in a ﬂux Foxes are eating an ox It is strange …humans in rage They persist in ﬁghting They persist in hurting Strange that they are not learning with age I am just exposing reality Simply, there is no morality The gray world is turning to brown after beige There are no colors There are no ﬂowers Because ‘am not a mage* I must close this page _____________________________ Mages: are types of ﬁghters
I can’t live forever wearing this mask I have to take it off to show you my past I have to remember every word I’ve spoken I have to show you how my heart was broken I have to trust you to tell you what is in my heart But there is a lot of pain and it really hurts I lived in dreams and made them my master I never thought that there would be a disaster I loved him and gave him the best of me But he came back to betray me I was ready to make him the happiest person on the earth But when I knew it just took my breath I couldn’t believe it; I said it’s a lie
But I was wrong, it's just that my hopes were high
Now you know everything about me I am not going to hide anything about me This is the truth you have to choose You want me or you want me to move
Written by Sara
Have you ever seen a ﬂower with dew drops on its leaves and stem while the sun is spreading its rays of light over the whole world? Have you ever concentrated on that scene? And if you have, could you see the reﬂected rays of serenity glittering inside and outside these drops? You would not have seen the serenity if you had expelled from your heart love, faith and hope. In other words, you would not have been captivated by that scene if you had not got rid of all sorts of mendacity such as untruth, hypocrisy and deception. Learn how to be faithful, satisﬁed, ambitious and honest, then sit near the waterfall to hear the calm sound of its murmur. Look up at the sky. What a wonderful baby blue horizon. Let it be your window to knowledge and inspiration. Breathe the fresh air and whisper the word "Peace". Now that you have got rid of dishonest feelings CHERISH SOLITUDE and allow old memories to invade your thoughts.
I can see you from above and I can recognise those tears that are rolling down your cheeks at the moment. I feel what you feel. Your heart is homesick without me and my absence makes you feel completely lost. I remember how I used to hate everything that reminded me of you, especially the moon light because it used to be so beautiful. It hurts me so much because you were not with me back then and you could not see what I saw. My precious. Tears will never bring me back to life. I remember how I wished to die and how I was counting the days! I suffered a lot… Being in PARADISE is something incredible. No one is here to stab me in the back. No one is here to play with my feelings. But seeing you defeated without me right now will always make me wish to be alive once more only to console
C R O S S W O R D S
1. Largest 7. What you're called 8. Unit of area 10. Heat, water and electricity 12. Mesh 13. The daughter of 14. Separate from the rest 15. Product of human creativity 17. People of southeast Nigeria 20. Carved 23. 10 10 10... 24. Downwind 25. Orders of business
S D R O W S S O R C
1. Restrain or lessen 2. Copying someone 3. A hair mousse 4. Consume food 5. Iota 6. Oak or birch 7. Religious sister 9. East southeast 11. Silly 15. Portray a role 16. Mother of Zeus (Greek mythology) 18. Stinging insects 19. Lyrical poem 21. South-southeast 22. Young man
S O D U K U
Difﬁculty level: medium.
U K U D O S
Cursing the day I saw you
By: Hammal ALBulushi
By: Aisha ALKaabi
Looking at you from a distance I wish you've never came to existence Trying to stop my anger Wishing to drown you with an anchor I cursed the day I saw you And was impressed by the look of you Very slim as a bamboo cane Thus, I was bound to your love's chain Now, I consider my biggest fault Which gave me a very important thought I won't trust anyone like you Or anyone who is even close to you Go without making a din Or I will deposit you in the rubbish bin
I miss you.. Don't die My sun has gone and I Have no gleam or light To live a hateful night You swore to stay with me As my paradise key And give me a magical horse To ﬂy me over the gorse And live in an amazing world Where no one utters a word Just with your eyes and mine We talk, conﬁde and shine I wanted you so much It caused jealousy to gush But when I found your way, You had been taken away
Factors contributing to Academic
By: Taymoura Al-Abri The main method used in this research is a questionnaire given to 181 students (84 males and 97 females) from various colleges at SQU. ** From the demographic details given by the participants, we have come to realize that most of the probation students at SQU are: - Males - Students from college of Science and college of Agriculture. - Third or fourth year students. - Those whose percentage at third secondary school was more than 90%. - Those whose family consists of more than 6 people. - Those whose family monthly income is more than 551. ** From the data and its analysis, the following ﬁndings appear: 1- The most effective personal factors contributing to AP at SQU are: - The wrong choice of the major. - Lack of time management skills. - Negligence of students towards their studying. - Dependence on others in ﬁnishing academic assignments. - Lack of clear goals in life.
He started narrating his story in a broken voice; “I was overwhelmed with happiness when my father told me that my grade in third secondary school qualiﬁes me to be admitted to SQU. Waves of rejoicing swept the place.” Ahmed paused for a minute. Then, his eyes ﬁlled with tears, “I chose the College of Science without thinking. I lived in a mysterious dream in that college. I faced some psychological problems that prevented me from attending my classes. Step by step, I deleted the word ‘studying’ from my life. I was placed on academic probation for three semesters. I was about to be suspended from SQU.” Ahmed took a deep breath and continued his story with a bright smile , "Then, I decided to transfer to another college, and indeed I moved to the College of Arts and Social Sciences. In this college, I found my real personality that is full of creativity. My GPA started to increase dramatically.” His last words came to emphasize that his wrong choice of college led him to be on the list of probation students at SQU. Ahmed‘s case is one of the cases found in all of the universities and colleges in the world. Academic probation is a serious problem not only for the students but also for the whole academic institution. Some statistics show that the number of probation students varies from one academic institution
to another. The report “Students on Academic Probation at City College of San Francisco” (2002) asserts that about 9% - 10% of the students at the College are placed on academic probation each semester. It shows that the number of students had increased from spring 1998 (more than 2,600 of 30,000 students were placed on Academic Probation) to spring 2003 (about 3,500 of 34,500 students were placed on academic probation). It also indicates that about 22% of the students at the City College of San Francisco become on academic probation after their ﬁrst semester, 37% after their second term and 16% after their third term. Another (2005) shows that at the University of Illinois at Urbana, about 134 of the students were placed on academic probation (AP) in Fall 2003, but this number had increased to 244 in Spring 2004. The report of Academic Probation Committee in the College of Education at SQU (2006) notes that the number of probation students in the College of Education was 245 in Spring 2005, with a majority on the male side. The statistics of the Deanship Admission and Registration show that more than 2050 students from various colleges at SQU were placed on AP in Fall 2006. This research is conducted to ﬁnd the factors contributing to AP at SQU.
2- The most effective psychological factors contributing to AP at SQU are: - Lack of self- motivation to studying. - Lack of positive attitudes towards studying. - Low self-esteem. - Difﬁculty in coping with academic life. - Exam anxiety. - Depression due to low grades. 3- The most effective factors contributing to AP at SQU are the bad effects of peer and the interference of the family in choosing the student's major. 4- The academic factors contributing to AP at SQU are: - Advisors not adhering to their academic advising hours. - Advisors not having background in using the electronic student information system ( SIS) in advising. - The ( SIS) not encouraging students to meet their advisors. - The low numeric value given to the grades 'D' and 'F' do not help the students to move from AP. - Courses being taught in English.
- Some teachers not stimulating students to their subject. - The time between the ﬁnal exams usually does not enable students to do well in their exams.
In this research paper, the following points are recommended: 1- There should be on academic guidance program for ﬁrst year students in order to teach them how they can cope with SQU life. 2- Counselling and advising services at SQU should play more effective roles in terms of helping students to get rid of their problems through setting appointments with them. 3- Teachers should use different teaching methods and pay more attention to low achievers. 4- There should be an Academic Probation Committee in each college to observe the progress of probation students. This committee should have a counsellor, a sociologist and an advi-
sor. 5- There should be co-ordination between the university services (counselling and advising) and the family of the student to help the counsellor and advisors know the students' problems in order to get rid of them. 6- There should be a committee that evaluates teachers' proﬁciency in teaching yearly.
IELTS or TOEFL for English Graduates
The ministry of Education now obliges all English graduates to take international English tests before being English teachers.
ELTS or TEOFL! This is a frequent question by all students who are the prospective teachers of English. That is because the Ministry of Education has issued a new edict that obliges English graduates to pass an IELTS test with at least band 6 or to pass a TEOFL test with scores of: • 547 (Paper based test) • 210 (Computer based test) • 78 (Internet based test) For this purpose, we carried out an investigation to get a closer view of this new policy. The ﬁrst step was to know the students’ opinions. We met some students from colleges of Education majoring in English. First, M. Al-Farsi, a fourth- year student from Rustaq College, said: “I think this exam is a useful tool to test students’ English level because there are a lot of English students graduating from different universities and colleges.” Another Education student from SQU, AB, a graduate, agreed with her point and added: “The test makes equal opportunities for all students to get jobs because university course grades are not the precise standard to evaluate students’ performance.” Then we met students who were against this decision. Y. Al-Bulushi, a ﬁfth- year student from Rustaq College, argues: “It is not fair to evaluate students’ teachers by giving them IELTS or TEOFL
Investigated by: Fatma Al-Aamri Zahra Al-Shukaili
Some students: Doesn’t the ministry trust us as English teachers after ﬁve years of education? Others: These tests are useful tools to evaluate students’ level in English. The ministry: This decision is for the trainees good and for the good of the educational system in Oman.
exams. That is to say, they are already teachers and they have to get jobs immediately after graduation.” Another student, AM, shared her opinion and says: “Not all students are able to pay for these expensive tests and I along with my colleagues are worried that there might be exploitation from the institutions that offer these tests. Besides, the Ministry of Education should have its own test to evaluate the students’ level.” Another graduate from SQU added that both the IELTS and TOEFL tests need to be practised here in the university.” S.H agreed with the idea of having either the TOEFL or IELTS test to evaluate students but he said: “Band 6 in IELTS test is too high. Besides we students have the ability to answer the questions given in these tests but the problem arises with the strict time limit.” All students, especially graduates, felt that they were victimized by the issuing of this new regulation and asserted that the ministry should have issued it at least one year before applying it or to consider starting it from next year so the students get the chance to practise these tests. advice to students? We interviewed the English Department’s Dr Adrian Roscoe, who said: “The government has a right to expect value of the huge amount of money it has invested in its schools, colleges and universities. It wants to see high standards across the education system as a whole, partly because in this way the interests of Omani children and their parents can be protected and partly because a future economy based on knowledge is the best kind of economy a modern nation can have. This means, then, among other considerations, that the government expects a high standard of English teaching in its secondary schools.’’ As to his ﬁndings at SQU, Dr.Roscoe added, “I am no expert on high school teaching, but my experience over the past ﬁve years leads me to believe that something has been going wrong in the school system. In particular, I notice that many students arrive at university with astronomically high marks (far higher than I ever achieved as a British high school pupil) and then ﬁnd it very hard to write quite simple English. The inﬂation this represents seems to have affected the university too. Though I’ve not seen the relevant
How do university staff members see this new regulation? And what is their
documentation, the Ministry seems to be saying that we are giving high marks to our teacher trainees who then go out into the schools and fail to teach effectively. This may well be broadly true, though I have to say an English lesson I witnessed at a school in Suwaiq last year was far and away the best I have seen anywhere in the world.” Dr.Roscoe then added: “I can understand the Ministry’s position- if there is a problem it must be solved- but I feel sad if it means that the university’s teaching and testing can not be relied on, and that foreign bodies and organizations must be employed to assess our students accurately. And of course it is an extra burden for students to, because, while striving to satisfy their university English instructors, they must now also concentrate on trying to satisfy an unseen panel of assessors from overseas.” On how students should prepare for these new examinations, Dr.Roscoe said:” The old and simple advice does not change. Students keen to achieve high standard in English, should, on a daily basis, read, write, speak and hear as much English as they can. It might also be useful to secure lots of past test papers and comb through them to see what is expected.” The English department in SQU has done practice sessions for IELTS and TOEFL during this semester. We met Mr. Badr Al- Jahwari, a demonstrator in the English Department who is giving IELTS sessions. He said:” The department is doing these sessions from its good will to help students, although the department is not obliged to train students for IELTS or TOEFL exams.” Mr. Badr added:” We are teaching the students the different sections, the types of questions and how to speed up while answering. There are four sessions a week, two for TOEFL and two for IELTS. The priority is for graduates and we notice that most students are registering for IELTS, thinking that it is much easier because it is a written exam. We want students to know that the
only difference between the two exams is the type of questions, but the difﬁculty level is the same.” To make this decision clear to all students, Dr. Naﬂa Al-Kharusi, the Head of the English Department, had sent e-mails and held meetings to answer students’ questions with regard to this policy. We met Dr.Naﬂa to know her opinion, and she said: “It’s a good decision because it motivates students to make learning language their responsibility, because learning a language or learning anything depends on the individual. When the Ministry of Education decided on a minimum of Band Six, the students know that getting a job is no longer as easy as it was before. The students have to prove that they are qualiﬁed to be teachers of English.’’ Dr. Naﬂa stressed the fact that the graduates of the new basic education have better English than the graduates of the older system, because they start studying English from the ﬁrst grade. We have to have teachers who are steps ahead to their students. “ When asked about the reasons, Dr.Naﬂa said: “I think, it’s to ensure the quality of teaching. Every institution, every country, every society has the opportunity to improve. Over the years, the Ministry of Education has been trying to improve the quality of teaching and this decision is for the good of the country.” Dr.Naﬂa added about choosing band 6 in Ielts: “Band 6 is good. Certainly, if you go overseas to study Masters, universities require 6.5 for it. If you are going to be a teacher of English, I think band 6 is a reasonable level.” The last words, Dr.Naﬂa would like to say to all students who want to be teachers of English are: “It’s never too late. Every single minute is an opportunity for you to improve. Reading is the best means by
The English Department at SQU
which you can improve your language, any language. Students should make sure they take advantage of the classroom time and the ofﬁce hours of the teacher. Use free time as an opportunity to improve. After all, it’s a very short period of time you are in the university, so make the best of it. Then, you have the rest of your life to enjoy yourself. The Ministry’s reply The Ministry of Education has its own point of view with regard to this decision. For this purpose, we interviewed Dr. Sana Al-Balushi, the Director of Technical Ofﬁce for Studies and Development who clariﬁed the purpose by saying: “Students should know that this decision is for their own good and for the educational system in Oman. Moreover, English as a language is very important in teaching and we have found that some graduates are not up to the level. These tests are a way to maintain the quality of education.” When asked about the late time of issuing this decision she answered: “It was not a sudden decision. We have been working on it for three years. All concerned ministries and organizations knew about it from last year.” Dr. Sana conﬁrmed that the students themselves will pay for the exam and added: “It is good to pay for your future. We tried with the institutions that offer these tests to discount the price, but it was difﬁcult because the price is ﬁxed. I assure the students that there will not be any exploitation from the institutions because these exams are international exams and they have the same price all over the world.” So there you have it! We hope that our investigation has answered some of your questions that centered around “this new edict” and the coming days will reveal more.
Collected & Translated by: Hatim AL Taie Demostrator, Language Center
This story was narrated by Saif AL Sulaimi, in the Garden of his brother Mubarak. It shows how the human brain can beat any physical power. It also represents that the shortest way to an Englishman's heart is through his stomach. "Once upon a time…" nce upon a time, it was related that a rich, young, but ill-fated lady was imprisoned by a huge horned giant in her house. Nobody in that village dared to come near the woman's house in order to rescue her from the tyrant giant. Years passed and the giant was with his female inmate. He used to come every other day to see what she needed and brought her all she wanted. He was so nice to her and treated her like his wife. A young man who lived nearby once came to visit the caged lady when the giant was gone. He knocked on the door once, but no one answered the door. He knocked the second time, and again no one responded; then he knocked the third time, then, the lady answered behind the door: "Who is it?" "I am your neighbor, may I talk to you for a minute?" the man asked. The lady was scared to death and told the man to leave at once reminding him that if the giant was to come at any moment, he would kill them both. The man deliberated for a second and said ﬁrmly: "If you don't allow me to come in right now, I will break into your house by force." The door was opened; a young, gorgeous, pale woman was standing next to the wall. She was wearing a beautiful dress on which red ﬂowers appeared; her eyes were ﬁlled with misery, and her visage was fading away. She wasn't really a woman, but rather a shade of a woman. A minute passed and the neighbor didn't utter a word. She then spoke in a trembling voice, "Tell me what you want quickly and please piss off." The man looked around and said in a low sluggish tone: "I am sure that you want to get rid of this ugly monster, as I do. So, I have set a plan to set him up and kill him. Tell me what he likes for dinner?" The woman was overjoyed to know that there was still hope that she would live her life normally. She told the neighbor: "He mainly likes fruits like orange, banana, pineapple, ﬁg, pomegranate, apricot, and the like." The man then told her that he would bring all the sorts of fruits she had just mentioned tomorrow evening before the giant returned; then he sneaked his way out of the house. The giant came home at night to ﬁnd a lovely dinner waiting for him of all his favorite types of fruits. He was glad inside but instead he ﬂew into a rage, "Where did you get all of this? Did you go shopping?" the giant questioned. "No, never, my neighbor is so kind and brought us this for dinner." "Go and tell him to come right now, I need to talk to him." So, the neighbor was called and he came. As soon as he saw the giant squatting on the ﬂoor, he bowed as a sign of extreme surrender and courtesy. The giant asked: "Did you bring all these fruits?" The man's answer was positive. "Then, you shall be my cook? Do you understand that or you want to let me down?" The neighbor showed that he was so excited to hear that lovely offer. After a couple of months, the giant and the young chap were such best friends that the giant wouldn't go out without his friend. One day, another giant came to visit the giant; he told him they had a mission to kill a sheik from the next village. Then, the giant left home going to his important mission. Before he left, he
apologized to his friend, the cook, that he couldn't permit him to accompany him in this mission because it was too risky to take a weak human being. Yet, the young man insisted that he would go with him or they were no longer friends. So, the giant consented. On their way to the intended village, the giant told his human friend that they could encounter some ugly and dangerous creatures. They could never be killed except if you recited some verses of the holy Qura'an three times each. The chap didn't mind to recite the verses when asked but he questioned: "What would happen if I exceeded the three times?" the giant answered: "I would melt like a piece of ice in water." The three walked and walked till they reached the Wadi of the creatures. The giant asked his friend to start reciting some verses of the holy Qura'an three times each. After that, he exceeded the three times. His friend the giant, asked him to stop, but the chap said: "Don't worry; nothing would harm you because there is another creature coming from that hill." The young man continued to recite the verses till the two giants turned into ash. The chap returned to the young woman with a box in which he had put the ashes. He conveyed the good news to her. She was so happy that she told the whole town that night about what happened. Then, the young sweet lady got married with her neighbor, the young chap, and they lived happily ever after.
This ancient and enjoyable folktale was related by Saif AL Sulaimi. The story is about an old woman and Satan "Iblees". They challenged each other on a race to evilness. "Once upon a time…" nce upon a time, there was an old woman living in the desert by herself. She once met Satan who was in a form of an old man. They chatted for a while and then Satan started to show off saying that he was Satan, the only one who was able to lead all people astray. Surprisingly, while Satan was boasting, the old woman made fun of him; she told him: "You are nothing compared to my potential. Tell me, what is it that you are able to do, baby Satan?" Satan began to boil inside as he heard the woman singing her own praises and calling him baby Satan. He told the woman: "Listen to me you old miserable woman. I am Satan; you are putting yourself in a situation that will embarrass you till your last breath. If you want to challenge me, then, I don't mind. I am able to deceive these two tribes in one month (he referred to two tribes in the area). I will make them ﬁght each other until they are all killed." The woman kept silent for a minute and then replied: "Never mind, I can do that within three days." Satan was shocked, but he didn't show that to the woman; he said: "If you could do that, then I confess that I am the baby Satan, and you are the big one." Shortly thereafter, they both left. The old woman went to visit the wife of the sheik of tribe A who was the daughter of the sheik of tribe B. After having coffee with her, she asked her whether she was happy with her husband or not. The woman replied that she was more or less satisﬁed but the expression on her face revealed the opposite. The old woman offered her that she would give her a piece of paper on which some words were written to make him charmed by her beauty. This could happen on one condition; she had to take the sheik's Khanjar and cut four pieces of hair from his beard. By doing so, he would become like a ring on her ﬁnger that she could wear
Race to Evilness
anytime she liked. Straight after proposing her offer, the old woman went to the "Sablah", the place where the sheik used to sit in order to solve peoples' daily hassles. When she got near the Sablah, she laid her back on the sandy ground and started to throw dust on her head covering her clothes with sands. The guards asked her what was wrong with her and she demanded to meet with the sheik. The Sablah was evacuated of the people sitting there. In no time, the old woman was standing before the sheik, "What is wrong with you mother?" the sheik asked courteously. The old woman said: "I want to tell you for sure that a disaster is about to shudder your bed. I have been told that your own wife is going to kill you tonight." These words made the sheik collapse in his place. He replied furiously: "How dare you talk about my faithful wife this way? Who told you about this?" the old woman simply said: "I have my own sources. I tell you in front of Allah that I hold no grudge against you or your wife but I had to tell you this for the sake of the whole village. We don't want any rebellions." Then, the old woman left the Sablah leaving the sheik with no peace of mind. Darkness descended over the village; the wife of the sheik got ready to go to bed. She hid the khanjar in an invisible position waiting for the sheik to fall asleep so she could cut the four pieces of hair from his beard. On the other hand, the sheik in his mind was secretly chewing one sole question: "what if the old woman was right?" So, he opened his old chest where he left his Khanjar, but there was no Khanjar. He, then, was sure that the woman’s prophecy was true. He took his spare Khanjar, coated it with some toxic poison, and concealed it under his pillow. He laid back down and pretended that he was snoring so that his wife would believer that he was fast asleep. The wife approached the sheik to make sure he was asleep. She took the Khanjar and moved towards the sheik. Suddenly, the sheik jumped off his bed calling out Allah Akbar (God is one): the truth had been uncovered. He snatched the poisoned Kanjar which was resting under his pillow and attacked her by stabbing her in the chest. Soon after, she fell dead. The old woman heard about the murder in the sheik's house. She hurried to the desert going to tribe B which usually took one day to reach by foot. By dawn, the old woman was throwing dust on her face again, but this time in front of the tribe B sheik. The sheik woke up irritated by the noise made outside. When he got out, the old woman bowed to him kissing his feet; she said, "O my Lord, you are sitting here with no idea of what is going on behind your back. There has been a disaster." The sheik was scared to death thinking that an army was coming to take over his tribe. When he asked the woman about the disaster she meant, she replied, "Your daughter's blood was shed last night by her own husband, your son-in-law." Upon hearing her words, the sheik became apoplectic with rage. He immediately ordered his son to equip a thousand soldiers with all kinds of available weapons and they headed towards tribe A. At this time, the old woman was already preceding the army and rushing to the house of the sheik. When she met with him, she shouted, "You are sitting here in comfort and your son-in-law is coming with a thousand soldiers in revenge for his daughter's death." In an instant, the sheik ordered his son as well to get ready for the fatal ﬁght. The two tribes clung to each other in a place called "Massacre". They fought so hard till they were all killed. After the deadly battle, Massacre was a pool of blood and history repeated itself. Satan came wading from a distance towards the other side of the valley; he saw the old woman squatting on a huge rock. He asked her: "What on earth have you done?" She answered: "Nice to see you again, baby Satan. As you can perceive, I have accomplished my mission in one day and a half. I was expected to ﬁnish it in three whole days though." Satan couldn't utter a word. At that moment, he had a mixture of shame and horror all at once. He was ashamed of himself that he, Satan, was beaten by an old worn-out woman, and was horriﬁed of this human-like monster whose potential was over his. He said in a slow sad tone: "Go to hell miserable woman. I have no doubt that you are the Big Satan and I am just your baby, mother."
This story was narrated by father Mubarak bin Saif. It reveals the human nature of greediness. Also it shows how people of the same community would envy each other for the simplest things. And lastly, it shows how the truth can be hidden, even from the wisest when evil spirits interfere. nce upon a time, there were two villages seated by the foot of a mountain named, The Crazy Mountain. The mountain derived its named from an anecdote related by elders of the village that in ancient times there was a crazy man named Hamed who used to climb that mountain every morning after Al Fajr prayer. So the mountain was named after crazy Hamed. Each of the two villages had a falaj that watered the palm tree gardens. A falaj is an engineering system consisting of a stream and a source. The stream is fed water by the source in the underground layers. The water comes out naturally from the underground layers to the stream in order to be distributed later to the different regions of the village. One of the falajes were called AL Hatmi and the other one called AL Saﬁ. Because the two villages were pretty close to each other, the falajes were also next to each other. Even though the falajes were next to each other, AL Hatmi was in a land that is higher than the land of AL Saﬁ. Water started to drop off in the stream of AL Saﬁ falaj as time was passing by. As a matter of this fact, the people of AL Hatmi claimed that water was leaking from underground to AL Saﬁ because it was lower than their falaj. Therefore, a representative of AL Hatmi went to see the Imam of the country; he told him: "We want to sue. AL Saﬁ is stealing water from AL Hatmi which has resulted in a decline in the level of water in our falaj, AL Hatmi. So, we ask your honor to bury the source of AL Saﬁ before our falaj dies and also our palm trees." This case triggered chaos in the two villages. The Imam came to visit the area so he could give his statement about the falajes. He was escorted by a number of guards. When he reached the spot where the two falajes were passing, he stood thinking what to say for a long time. Then, he said to one of his guards: "Bring a bottle of parafﬁn tomorrow morning, and pour it in the source of AL Hatmi after AL Fjer prayer." The Imam explained to the people: "If water really is leaking from AL Hatmi, we will smell the parafﬁn in AL Saﬁ and we will see a thick layer in the water. If not, then go home because the water decline is natural." After that, the Imam left for his residence. A man named, Gareeb, was summoned by the people of AL Hatmi. There was a conspiracy to hire Gareeb to pour three bottles of parafﬁn in the source of AL Saﬁ after AL Fajer prayer. By doing so, they would deceive the Imam whose judgment's would be for their advantage. After handing the three bottles to Gareeb, everyone went home because they had a big day awaiting them. The Fajer prayer was over so the Imam called for the gathering near AL Saﬁ stream. They stood there wating for the guard, who was requested to pour the bottle in AL Hatmi source, to come back. He came back so the Imam asked the people to step aside so he could concentrate. At this time, Gareeb joined the crowd after ﬁnishing his dirty task. Three to ﬁve minutes passed, and then a thick layer appeared on the surface of AL Saﬁ with a strong smell of parafﬁn. The Imam immediately shouted to the people: "No doubt, AL Saﬁ shall be buried from this very minute because water is leakinginto it. Case is closed." The people of AL Hatmi were in extremely high spirits, so the process of ﬁlling the source of AL Saﬁ with dirt began at once. They used all available materials to bury the source; dirt, clothes, papers. Unfortunately, Gareeb’s conscience started to awaken. He went to the Imam who was getting ready to leave for another town and told him about his horrible crime. A heavy dark cloud of anger dominated the Imam's head. He went to
The Case of the
the people of AL Hatmi who were still burrying the source of AL Saﬁ and yelled at them: "You who do not fear the punishment of Allah had plotted against me and mislead me to judge for you and I ask Allah to forgive me for this. But that is not enough. I judge now that you dig the source of AL Saﬁ again till it is like before and better." The Imam added: "As for your falaj, AL Hatmi, I supplicate to Allah and pray to him to deprive you from this blessing that you had denied."
By: Salim ALKindi
Darkness tickles our hearts once in a while. We may consent to its malicious desires when being fragile and pathetic. By losing control, it gradually devours our core and throws our cadaver away. It’s not fair, but who said life is fair anyway! We’re not saints, but we still care about those who drift away. That’s what we call humanity.”
You’ve done it all. You’ve struggled enough to change it. I admit your earnest efforts. It's never been easy, though. Shall I take vengeance for it? It'll be for your sake. Thou shall be avenged, dear one. Thou shall rest in peace, dear one. Thou shall see them begging for mercy, dear one. It all started when you tried to hold me back. That was hard for both of us. I thought I would take it back. I thought I would return victorious. I thought I wouldn't let you down. You thought victory was when you feel so inside. But alas, I turned a blind eye on your fervent words. I went for it like a savage beast going after its prey. Look now where I end up; dehumanizing my entities amongst those worthless mortals like a villainous rascal. Why didn't I listen when listening was all I could do? Why didn't I follow when following was the way? Why didn't I abide by the laws of fate? Am I a sinner now? Is this my punishment? Do I deserve this kind of penalty? How on earth can I muddle through for the remaining days of my hollow earthly existence? Dear soul, it is a burden I will bear. It's something I could never wipe out without the return of you. I thought of it over and over before coming forward to declare this. I was wrong when I said I was up to the ﬁre. I was wrong when I left you for the ﬁre. I was wrong when I deﬁed it all alone with the help of no one. Now, I shall grieve over it till vengeance takes its proper place. What I am going to do is no longer anyone's business. I shall hone my spirit's dagger, sheath my reasoning, ride the blustery thoughts, and go for everlasting glory. Immortality is ours, dear soul. Dear soul, my wounds don't bleed anymore. I have overdosed and I don't feel pain any longer. My heart lusts for blood, not the common type though. Now, I hold the perfect body for a battle unto death. No more serenity, dear soul. No more second chances, dear soul. Dear soul, tears of blood ﬂow out of my remorseful thoughts as I write; I'm hurt, ﬁlled with woe, and looking forward to meeting you down there in the endless place. Dear soul, they ought to be on guard, for you shall be avenged soon. I shall take back every single entity I've lost. Yours loyally The corpse
The Syrian Cultural Night
nglish Group of the English and Translation Society held a Syrian Cultural Night to portray the different aspects of the Syrian culture through a live show of one of the most unique suqs in Syria, Suq Alhamedis. The suq was modeled in miniature on stage with its different shops including a coffee shop, a tailor, and a calligrapher. To enliven the atmosphere of
By: Anood A'Shibli
liked his strength and leadership. I did my utmost to impersonate him and thus properly deliver the role of this character to the audience.” Haithem Almusalmi, who acted the role of Abu Abdo the tailor, commented that acting such a role was of great inspiration to him since it was his pioneering experience of acting for a long time on stage. The guest of honor, Dr.Hamood Alharthi, Deputy Dean of Deanship of Student Affairs, said that “The event was extremely great. The members did well in making the night a hit and thus they portrayed the Syrian culture in such an effective way which attracted considerable audience of both students and SQU faculty members to grace the event." This event has noticeably bespoken the creativity and the abilities of the group’s members. Speciﬁcally, it was a great chance for the fresh blood of the group to unleash their hidden talents. Ahmed Alshukili, a freshman in the Department of English and one of the actors said that “although I had a walk-on part in the play, I am really proud that I had the chance to participate in the making of this remarkable event.” Coinciding with the activities of the night, there was a small exhibition of the Syrian products held in the Exhibition Hall. It showed
Syrian traditional costumes and textiles, restaurateurs and vendors selling different kinds of Syrian food, and other staff of Syrian origin and essence. Manal Alnemani , the person in charge of the Syrian clothes part said that “the exhibition amazingly attracted crowds of students who came to know and buy the Syrian clothing. Special offers were given to students in an attempt to make our exhibited commodity within affordable prices to the students." The Syrian Cultural Night will be a memorable event and an everlasting mark of pride to all members of the English and Translation Society. In fact, it was the Society's road to Damascus to know more about cultures in the Arab World in particular and the globe in general.
the suq, the roles of the vendors were acted by some group members; the characters were Abu Anther, Abu Radwan, Abu Abdo, and Abu Hatem (names of famous actors in Syria) who visibly represented Syrian citizens' lives. Above and beyond, a ﬂash show was shown to evince the geography of Syria highlighting some big cities like Damascus and Allepo along with several Syrian dishes. An emphasis was put on the relationship between the Sultanate and Syria as two Omani tourists visited the suq to know more about the essence of the Syrian culture. Likewise, the Omani tourists have exhibited the Oman culture to the Syrian vendors. The members acting on stage were dressed in Syrian costumes and they spoke the Syrian colloquial accent to better represent the Syrian culture to the Omani audience. Osama Alfarsi, a member who acted Abu Antar, said that “I was thrilled to act the role of Abu Anther and I mostly
ENGLISH GROUP is part of the ENGLISH AND TRANSLATION SOCIETY at SULTAN QABOOS UNIVERSITY.
Deanship of Students Affairs. Cultural and Sport Activity Department. Sultanate of Oman. 2008-2009
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