English Language Department
English plays a multifaceted role in Iran, as in many other countries. It is learned by some in schools or institutes for its own sake as a means of communication. It is learned by others as a means of acquiring knowledge in universities. However, in its third facet, English itself is the object of study. In this case, people involved in the process of teaching and learning already know the language but they want to know about the language itself, that is, about its structure or mechanisms and processes of its acquisition. Alternatively, they might try to find out about the best ways of teaching and learning or developing programs that best fit their educational purposes. Except for the first aspect of learning English, which is learned for getting in touch with people of other extractions, in its other facets it is used as an intermediary tool by which knowledge is transmitted from one person to another. It is these other facets of English that make it academically worthwhile and it is the severe shortage in academics knowing English well in countries like Iran that amplifies the weight and sensitivity of the job that English Language Departments should do.
The inception of the English Language Department in IAU, Ardabil Branch goes back to the early days of this branch. The department started its work with a couple of retired teachers of the city, holding MA degrees, together with a few visiting professors coming from Tabriz, a provincial city not very far from Ardabil. But this state of affairs lasted only for a very short period of time because the overwhelming influx of students and the enthusiastic welcome the courses received, while catching the authorities by surprise, forced them to think of employing new staff members to be able to meet the needs of continuously arriving groups of students. Today, the department has 10 full time and 3 part time faculty members and enjoys the cooperation of even more adjunct professors many of them PhD holders. Yet, it should not be forgotten that the department owes its success today to the few selfless instructors and professors who initially took charge of teaching and put the department in motion and never shrank from their responsibilities.
Faculty members of the English Language Department in IAU-A instruct students of English Language Teaching (ELT) and Linguistics. Of course, there used to be courses offered in English Literature in not very distant past which are now defunct because of shrinkage in the number of students applying for BA programs in this field. The department also provides services for other departments in the university. Many of these departments offer two to four courses in general and technical English aggregating to eight credits in the latter case for their students at all levels. All these courses are thought by either the teaching staff of this department or adjunct professors cooperating with it. In this sense, the department plays an auxiliary role to other departments.
The currently available programs in English Language Department are BA, MA, and PhD programs in English Language Teaching and a PhD program in linguistics. However, it is quite likely that the department would offer a program for linguistics’ Master’s degree very soon.
With respect to the department’s atmosphere, it is worth mentioning that, all faculty members are committed to excellence and there is a oneness of belief that we should not concede an inch from standards. Faculty members do not think that they should teach students in traditional ways but help them be autonomous learners. Students’ initiatives and their suggestions are valued and put to work everywhere possible. This philosophy has made English language classes lively environments in which students get hold of the most teaching activities. To be even more up-to-date, faculty members try to educate themselves in computer software, study newly published articles and books, and connect with outstanding figures in their fields. Staff meetings are also held regularly