As the Muslim month of Ramadan (2019) approaches, it’s an opportunity to reflect on life, and specifically the message of God (Allah).
It is also an opportunity for those who are curious and open minded, to find out more about Islam by listening to this English and Arabic rendition.
Quran recitation by the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Maher Al-Muaiqly.
English translation by Dr. Waleed Bleyhesh Al-Amri.
English reading by yours truly.
The first three chapters of the Quran are presented here:
With warm wishes and regards. Peace.
Part of my role at work is to facilitate and plan the development of teachers.
It is not an easy role. The most challenging part is to convince teachers that any development plans we have are there to help them become better in our particular context. It is not about keeping them busy in order to make the boss look good, or for creating fancy reports at the end of the year. That is certainly not the intention.
However, without taking the context fully into consideration, no policy, no matter how good, will work.
Over the years, I have realised that teachers are not only motivated by different goals, in fact their motivation and performance in class is affected by wider issues.
If teachers are having a hard time at work generally, such as for example low pay or apparent lack of support from administration, such as unrealistic curriculum goals, or even problems at home and other personal issues, professional development will fail.
In addition to this, if students are used to judge teachers via student surveys, and the results are not nuanced or balanced by other considerations, teachers are bound to feel hard done by.
Fundamentally, what I have realised, is that we need to find out more about what is going on with teachers at an individual level, both professional and personal, before we can make judgements about their classroom performance.
Teachers typically come into the profession due to their want and need to help and support students, and to feel the satisfaction of having impacted on the future. They are also naturally creative, and do not need ‘us’ to teach them how to teach. They already know how to teach. We should be there to lend a helping hand and to provide support to help them become even better.
We rarely ask teachers about their classes and the challenges they face. How often do we give space to teachers to even question the instruments that are used to measure their performance?
A multiplicity of factors impact teaching adversely. An unhappy teacher will result in an unhappy student.
If we see them as merely a tool for reporting performance, then we have failed them.
Fundamentally, the message I am trying to convey here very briefly, is that teachers are the treasure that educational institutions cannot do without. We need to find out more about their needs and desires, and appreciate their talents and experiences.
Providing professional development (PD) in a vacuum without addressing other work and non-work issues results in ineffective PD.
Once the teachers feel that we are taking care of their needs, teachers will be able to start taking care of their students, which of course is the ultimate goal of education.
The General Medical Council in the UK now allows international medical students and professionals the option of either taking the IELTS exam or the OET (medical option) as part of the registration process.
For IELTS, the requirement has been an overall score of 7.5. This requires a minimum of band 7 in any of the IELTS skills. However, if a band 7 is received on any one of the skills, a score of 8 will be required in at least one other skill in order to gain an overall of 7.5.
For those taking the OET, a grade of at least ‘B’ in each skill is required.
Please note, that both exam options are similar in difficulty. International exams are thoroughly tested and go through a stringent validation and checking exercise before being released to the public. Please do not decide to go for the exam that you believe is easier. They are both equally hard.
The advice I give potential candidates, is that you need to focus on language development, Merely practicing samples of exams is not enough to gain a better result. Ultimately, your language needs to improve, which requires daily exposure to the language.
If you want to find out more please fill in the contact form. Please click on the link below:
All the best!
As part of an effort to monitor my phone usage and become more productive during the day, I decided to install not one, but three apps that monitor mobile phone usage. The three apps I downloaded were:
2) MyAddictonmeter and,
3) Mobile addiction meter.
Just to clarify, in no way am I recommending these apps. As it happened I just came across these. There are a lot of other similar apps too.
My phone usage primarily revolves around messaging. This includes emails (I have 3 email accounts), as well as social media, basically WhatsApp. I rarely use twitter and Facebook. In terms of other usage, I search the net when required, as well as watch the odd YouTube video. I do not play games. Having said this, there are plenty of other links, suggestions and adverts based on our profiles which try hard to distract our attention, in the hope that we spend even more time on the net. At times, these do result in more phone usage.
The statistics that were produced by these apps were surprising. I was going to show a table of the statistics accumulated over the week, but decided not to. Let’s just say that that data is best kept with me and whoever is collecting my surfing and phone usage habits.
However, you may be interested in knowing what kinds of statistics these apps produce.
- How many times used daily
- Daily Average use in hours
- On average usage per minute
- Max duration
- Last used duration
- Times checked per hour
- Maximum distraction period
- Least distraction period
- Distraction free period
In addition to the above, there are also a variety of graphics too, and you can also get a history of usage. However, I found some inconsistencies when comparing usage data between the apps, so it’s difficult to ascertain why these differences are there, for apparently similar measures.
However, I thoroughly recommend you checking out these apps. Mobile phones are seriously disrupting our lives, and there seems to be a tendency to check the phone frequently. If you keep your notifications on silent you may keep checking your phone more often just to see if you have received anything. There is also the tendency to immediately check the phone when notifications are on.
My experience of having used these usage apps for about a week, is that they reveal the real danger of spending too much time on the phone checking messages, and then being distracted by other media. We may not realise it, but we are all fundamentally distracted for long periods of time on additional unplanned activities. The more time we spend on accessing messages and the internet, the more money someone is making. That is the ultimate purpose of all of this technology. If there was no money in it, no one would be interested.
Distraction technologies are in demand. The more distracted we are, the higher some company’s profits or share price. Perhaps more importantly, we need to start thinking seriously about how we can make better use of our time, and reduce phone usage.
I adore it,
indeed it’s a blessed month,
it teaches me to be patient,
it brings discipline back into my life,
it makes me remember that there’s more to life than eating,
most importantly, it brings me closer to God (Allah),
it re-ignites my interest in the Qur’an,
it reminds me of what I’m so fortunate to have,
it makes me think of those less fortunate than me,
it helps me clear my mind,
it’s a time to contemplate,
on matters more spiritual,
more closer to the soul,
time to reflect on ones role,
to rectify oneself,
to be more in control,
not to fall for fruitless desires
but to do what really matters,
to help those less fortunate,
to be an example to society,
to show what life is really about,
self-sacrifice and service to others,
to bring hope to others,
to be a force for good,
the ultimate aim of course,
is to please the One and Only Almighty.
Thank you God (Allah) for giving us this beautiful month of…
Oh how I’ll miss it when it goes.
According to publicly available information on the Cambridge Esol and ETS websites, Saudi’s seem to perform best in the speaking skill.
In both exams, listening comes second, though a little behind on average compared to speaking.
In IELTS, Saudi’s do worst in writing, but in the TOEFL iBT they do worst in reading.
So basically, reading and writing are the weakest skills.
What’s odd (in my opinion), is that I thought that as the TOEFL iBT is online, typing might be an issue. It seem’s not based on the statistics available.
Fundamentally, what the figures (for 2014) show, is that speaking is way ahead in terms of average performance, whereas listening, reading and writing are clustered closely together.
It’s difficult to read too much into these numbers, but one thing that policy makers should start focussing on, is the development of reading and writing abilities in the long-run, especially for those who are planning to travel overseas for further study or work.