October 2018

From the Director; Book Launch; RUOK? Day; Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award; Language Centre News; Professional Certificate in Online Teaching; For Your Diary; Work Health & Safety

The Director

Seamus retirement and Save the Date

As per the recent announcement from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), our beloved Director will retire on 9 November after 22 years at the University.

“Seamus commenced his work here in 1996 in the role of Director of the Language Centre. Then, in early 2002 when the University located all its pathway programs into a newly inaugurated ELFS Centre, Seamus was appointed Director. During his time as Director, our enabling programs have grown by more than 30% and we continue to be the largest provider of Commonwealth funded enabling programs in Australia.  These programs are highly regarded in the sector and we have welcomed key staff from a range of universities over the last 10 years to visit and learn more about our success in this area.

Pathways for international students have also been a significant part of the work carried out by ELFS. The Language Centre is highly regarded for its delivery of intensive English programs and in a recent International Student Barometer Survey it was ranked by its own students as one of the best in Australia and overall top ten globally. Seamus has a strong commitment to diversity and has been a passionate driver of this agenda at UON. Our ELICOS programs offer opportunities for international students to have meaningful engagement with Australian students and the broader community, and this has led to multiple awards for the Centre for its student engagement programs.

Seamus’s contribution to enabling education and ELICOS is reflected in his strong national profile.  Seamus has served on the Board of English Australia (EA), the peak body of English Language Teaching, for 17 years and for the last six years as Chair. He has also served for ten years on the Board of the National ELT Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) and for six years on the Executive of the University English Centres of Australia.  He was also elected for two terms on the Board of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), the peak body for over 2,500 staff working in international education.  This work on a national level was recognised when Seamus was awarded the Distinguished Contribution to International Education award in 2012 from IEEA in 2016. His contribution to the ELICOS sector was recognised when he was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award in 2016.

Seamus also played a key role in the establishment of a national education conference for enabling educators, hosting the first two conferences, and was one of the founders of the National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia (NAEEA) serving two terms on its national executive.

Please join me in congratulating Seamus on his long and distinguished career at UON, and thanking him for his outstanding contribution to education locally and nationally”

Save the date: A farewell for Seamus will be held on Friday 9 November (3pm) on the Callaghan campus.  Invitations will be sent in coming weeks.

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Book Launch

On 10 September, Dr Catharine Coleborne, Head of School (Humanities and Social Sciences) proudly launched “English as a Foreign Language in Saudi Arabia” by Associate Professor Michelle Picard and Dr Christo Moskovsky.

Part of the Routledge Research in Language Education Series, the book offers a detailed discussion of key aspects of teaching and learning English in the Saudi context and offers a comprehensive overview of related research authored or co-authored by Saudi researchers. It provides readers with an understanding of the unique cultural, linguistic, and historical context of English in Saudi Arabia—with a focus on the principal factors that may influence successful teaching and learning of English in this country.


On Wednesday 12 September in the common lunch hour, staff at Ourimbah and Callaghan, participated in events organised to recognise RU OK day. R U OK day is a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask, “Are you ok?” and support those struggling with life. The day is about inspiring people to start these conversations every day of the year.

At Ourimbah, staff shared a “pot luck” lunch at the picnic tables behind the EXSA building, and availed themselves of a “conversation corner”. Various stations were also set up in EXSA102 for staff to try different activities, including

  • Reflexology machine
  • Cho machine
  • Bilateral stimulation (under supervision)

Staff were also invited to a meditation session. At Callaghan, the “pot luck” lunch was enjoyed by many.


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Foundation Studies Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award

The 2018 ELFSC Foundation Studies Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning-Enabling has been awarded to Heath Jones. Heath has built on the work done in Maths and implemented a physics drop-in/redemption system that has increased student retention and interaction and lead to demonstrable improvements in student performance and confidence. The panel were impressed with how he enhanced assessment practice and design with a systematic approach that responds to the needs of individual students. It links assessment to active learning done by the student outside of class (their assignment preparation), in class (the assignment) and as follow up after (in the drop in).

Congratulations Heath.

Language Centre News

Language Centre takes out the NSW Government International Student Community Engagement Award

On 25 September, at the 2018 NSW International Student Awards held at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Sydney, the University of Newcastle Language Centre was a joint winner of the International Student Community Engagement Award for the innovative Student Experience Passport.  The Award is an initiative of the NSW Government Department of Industry, and recognises initiatives of organisations that help international students connect with NSW communities.

Part of the Language Centre’s Student Experience program, the Student Experience Passport was designed to break down barriers and facilitate meaningful connections with the community. The philosophy of the passport is that opportunities for meaningful engagement need to initially be ‘engineered’ for international students. This empowers them with the experience and confidence to further explore the attractions and opportunities of Newcastle and its surrounds.

The concept for the passport is the work of Anne Burnett, the Language Centre’s Student Experience Co-coordinator and Tim Hyde the ELFS Marketing Manager, congratulations to both of them of this remarkable achievement.  When Anne went to receive the award on behalf of the Centre, as promised she asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, Niall Blair to “high five” her and he duly did!!!

The success of this important student engagement activity has been a great collaborative activity across the Centre with teaching and professional staff playing a key role in stamping the passport and if you look at the Language Centre Facebook page you will see many photos of proud students having completed the passport and sharing their happiness with a member of staff.

This is not the first time the Language Centre has won this award, in 2016 the Language Centre in Sydney was part of the Welcome Dinner project that won the same award. These awards, plus the national award we received previously from English Australia shows the strong commitment of the Centre to providing opportunity for our international students in ELICOS to have meaningful engagement with Australian students and the wider community and a recognition that language learning happens inside and outside the classroom

Congratulations Anne and Tim.

Thank you

A very big thanks to Stuart Macdonald who has just completed a very successful stint as the Acting Deputy Program Convenor at the Callaghan campus of the Language Centre. Stuart did an amazing job and managed to balance this role with his duties as the newly appointed English for Academic Purposes Coordinator.  We will be welcoming back Janielle Wilson to the Deputy role from the beginning of October and hope she is well rested from her much deserved break as we head into the busiest time of our year.

UECA Adelaide 2018

Several teachers from the Callaghan Language Centre will present at the 2018 UECA PD Fest in Adelaide. These include Louise Pavey presenting her ‘I can say it through music’ session, Sue Hodgson on ‘Engaging speaking tasks’ and Natalia Soeters and Louise Noell their ‘Practical beginners guide to making videos for the classroom.’ For the full program visit the website here.

English Australia 2018

EA 2018 was held in Sydney from the 18th – 20th of October. Callaghan Program Convenor Ben Doran presented on the Thursday alongside University of Wollongong College Deputy General Manager Heather Thomas on the Peer-Review project that commenced this year. The session was well-received with the pair invited to consider submitting an article for publication to the EA journal. ELICOS Teacher Louise Pavey also attended the conference as the winner of the NSW Bright Ideas Challenge. Other teachers in attendance included Stuart Macdonald, Louise Noell, and Sonia Carpenter.

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Professional Certificate in Online Teaching

On Tuesday 25 September, foundation studies staff teaching and providing support online were pleased to attend the face-to-face component of the Professional Certificate in Online Teaching, covering topics such as Course Design and Writing Effective Learning Outcomes, Online Assessment and Feedback, and Course Site Development. The event was well attended and reflects the ongoing commitment of our staff to maintaining and improving our knowledge of online practices, and continuing to provide an exemplary online teaching and learning space for our students across our programs.

Staff who attended can look forward to further contact from the Centre for Teaching and Learning staff in order to complete the online modules necessary for completion of the Certificate. A reminder that completing the full Certificate is especially important for staff intending to teach in newly designed or re-developed online courses as it will be a mandatory requirement.

If you are interested in completing the Certificate further information is available via CTL and you can register your interest in undertaking the Certificate with by emailing elfsc-qatl@newcastle.edu.au. A big thank you to Sally and Elizabeth for organising the event, and to CTL staff for their facilitation of the day.

For Your Diary

Academic Division Awards Ceremony - 25 October

Join our colleagues from across the Academic Division in celebrating staff achievements through a range of Awards including, Collaboration Excellence, Professional Staff Excellence, Health and Safety Excellence, Early Career Research and Innovation Excellence, International Engagement and Teaching Excellence.

Professor Darrell Evans will present the Awards at a ceremony on Thursday 25 October at 10am in The Chancellery foyer. All staff are invited.

Christmas Close Down

Last day Wednesday 19 December 2018

Return 7 January 2019

Work Health & Safety

10 000 Steps - Walking Challenge

Challenge yourself this spring and join the 10,000 Steps Program Registration is free, and you can compete in Tournaments and Team challenges.

If you would like to join a Tournament commencing 22 October, please go to the 10,000 Steps website and join the Time Out Tournament called ‘UON Academic Division Wellness Challenge’.

You will need a pedometer, Fitbit or Garmin (or similar) device for tracking your steps and you log your steps through the website. Please contact Leah Hill if you have any questions on how to get started.

World Mental Health Day

Please keep your eye out for an email invitation for lunch on World Mental Health Day 10 October 12pm on the Auchmuty Library roof-top.

Please RSVP via the email by Monday 8 October for catering purposes. Sydney and Ourimbah Campuses are to hold separate events - dates to be advised.

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Items for the ELFSC Link Newsletter are always welcome. The newsletter is published early each month, with items due 2 weeks prior to publication.  Please forward any items to Jenny Williams, Maureen Jones or Leah Hill.