ATEL is an acronym that embeds action, knowledge, research and new horizons for English in Lebanon. It has during the very few years of existence proven to be a great incentive for teachers of English. It may have provoked few but it inspired many. It is a realization that has taken much dedication, perseverance, moral and financial support to stand where it does today.
False Beginings with ETAL
In 1991, AMIDEAST and the American University in Beirut sponsored a conference on the teaching of English Language in Chtoura. The idea of establishing an English Teacher’s’ Association in Lebanon (ETAL) was then conceived. A committee was formed and chaired by Dr. Kassem Chaaban, who wrote in June of the same year:

“Dear colleagues, this is to announce to you the establishment of ETAL. The major objectives of the Association are:

1. To stimulate the professional development of English as a 2nd language (ESL) teachers in Lebanon;

2. To collect and share information about new developments in ESL;

3. To improve communication among ESL teachers at all levels and to provide a forum of professional debate and exchange of ideas;

4. To assist in the setting and maintenance of standards in teacher training programs and activities;

5. To cooperate in appropriate ways with other organizations having similar concerns or with groups requesting the help of ETAL in various areas.”  (index)

Founding Committee

For reasons untold, the Association did not persist. In 1996, at a conference held by IATEFL in England and attended by René Karam representing the SS.CC, which employs over 120 teachers of English, the idea of the Association popped up again. Mr. Karam followed this matter seriously, contacted the British Council, AMIDEAST and other fellow teachers. Together they formed an Interim Founding Committee to revive the Association with a minimum amendment to the name to become the Association of Teachers of English in Lebanon (ATEL) and to the main objectives of the former Association.

The group that worked on drafting the Constitution and By-laws and on acquiring a license from the Lebanese government were René Karam (Chairman), Amin Abu Ayyash (Deputy Chairman), Bilal Dabaj (Secretary), Samia Abou Hamad (Treasurer), Nabil Ayoub (Educational Officer), Mary Ghaleb (Member) and Mouna Hammoud (Member).

As Ex-Officio Members, the following esteemed individuals gave advice and support to the Committee: Ann Malamah-Thomas (Director, British Council-Beirut), Phylis Salem (Director, AMIDEAST – Beirut), June Antoun (Dean, Thevenet College), Malcolm Dexter (Educational Consultant) and Marianne Chamly (British Council).


First Elections  
In September 29, 1998 the new revived association was legally recognized by the Ministry of Education in the Lebanese government under the decree no 111/AW. As such the Association held its first elections on the 20th of November 1998 to elect the following members as the Higher Committee to hold office for two years:

René Karam (Chairman), Amin Abu Ayyash (Deputy Chairman), Randa Al-Chidiac (Secretary), Saiid Rajha (Treasurer), Nabil Ayoub (Educational Officer). The Advisory Board was composed of Mrs. Ann Malamah-Thomas (Director, British Council-Beirut), Dr. Henri Melki (Nôtre Dame University), Dr. Atif Faddul (Lebanese University), Dr. Mary Ghaleb (American University of Beirut), Mrs. Irma Ghosn (Lebanese American University) and Mr. Malcolm Dexter (Educational Consultant).

This Committee worked for three years on organizational infrastructure and recruitment. On its Agenda were many activities such as an annual conference, workshops and the publication of a newsletter, as well as school activities. One main concern was the amendment of the By-laws, which required updating for future committees and to preserve continuity.




Second Elections
The second general elections was held on the 10th of November, 2000 to bring forth a new Higher Committee of nine members and not five from different educational levels (tertiary and secondary). This committee has a term of four years in which to accomplish many of it goals and aims. (index)
Partners & Affiliates
ATEL used to work with the British Council, an institution that has been a partner since 1996 and the days of the Founding Committee. Mrs. Ann Malamah-Thomas, former Director of British Council, Lebanon, supported ATEL both financially and morally. Numerous ATEL events were sponsored on collaborated on with the Council: publishing of several Newsletters; funding the expenses of international speakers to attend the annual conferences; joint summer workshops for ELT professionals in Lebanon; awarding prizes in ATEL held competitions; awarding ATEL members the chance to travel to the UK to attend summer workshops; funding the primary launch of the ATEL website.

ATEl is also affiliated to IATEFL.

Declaration Speech of Establishment

by Mr. Rene Karam

22 March 1997

Excellency Reverends,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dearest Colleagues,

On behalf of the Congregation of “Soeurs Saints Coeurs English Department” I dedicate this international seminar to education in Lebanon, to the teaching and learning of English in this Country.

Dearest Colleagues,

Over the last three or four years we have all sensed a paramount change taking place in the approach towards English, which has consequently led to a number of various activities: workshops, symposiums, seminars and activities taking place every now and then to meet the educational needs of the country. In the last two symposiums organized by the English Department SS.CC, we stressed a number of major issues to be dealt with. Unfortunately, due to the absence of a committee or an association of E.L.T. professionals, most of these points and resolutions were partly and chaotically implemented here and there depending on the good will of individuals and personal initiatives.

I shall list some of the main issues mentioned in the last symposium. To start with, it was suggested at the time that English programs would yield measurable results if set under the umbrella of a comprehensible educational philosophy, national policy and a clear set of objectives. Fortunately, this was addressed by the Ministry of Education when C.E.R.D. launched the new curriculum with this point was clearly stated.

The second point mentioned was that too much effort was being made at the university level in developing intensive remedial English programs; causing and delaying the start of university studies by one semester to one year and secondary schools were requested to better prepare their students for university level English. However, it would be worth mentioning here that up to now there has not been any sort of standardized tests. Each university requests an entrance exam. Some request the TOEFL, other the SAT and some others their own entrance exams. While on the other hand, some other international exams that are widely and internationally recognized and far more advanced such as the Cambridge Proficiency and Oxford Higher Test are not accepted as local university entrance requirements. We seize the opportunity to make a point since most universities are represented in the Higher Committee to remedy the situation and reach an agreement on what is or not accepted, requested, recognized and why.

Third point concerns teacher training and follow-up programs. A number of workshops have been taking place over the last three or four years. Some organized by publishers and some others by English Departments such as SS.CC, English Department. The work is valuable, but we still feel it lacks the proper coordination and educational aims to reach the desired and requested objectives.

The fourth point, long-term-serious planning for syllabi, tests and materials has been neglected in some places and the need for adequate physical facilities in less privileged schools outweighs the need for quality programs.

The fifth point is the need to associate language and culture and its framework.

Last, but not least, I would like to refer to the lecture given by Dr. Georges Nahas in last year’s symposium on the necessity of trilingualism and the proper means and references to be adapted. After reading in depth Dr. Nahas’s lecture and the bibliography he provided us with, we feel that his valuable lecture could serve as the foundation stone towards achieving trilingualism and the proper teaching of the three existing languages. I call the University of Balamand and Dr. Nahas to organize a number of meetings for the discussion and the adaptation of the theory.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

A lot has been achieved as mentioned but we still have a long way to go. This definitely requires teamwork and a lot of coordination if we are to climb the ladder successfully. The need to unify our efforts is of paramount importance as the process of education cannot be a one-man show; the need for coordination between the schools and universities is a necessity. The need for true commitment to one’s career, and finally the need for overseas contacts through their representatives here ought to be more developed. In the name of all the aforementioned and on behalf of all teachers of English and coordinators who believe so, I declare the Association of Teachers of English in Lebanon. I call all people involved in ELT to join and fill in the form in their folders and I hand this Association over to the Higher Committee and the British Council.


Excellency, Reverends, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen I want to thank you for coming and to thank every member of the Higher Committee for participating and sharing the responsibility. I want to thank all the speakers, the universities, and the delegates of Local Examination-University of Oxford that I’m proud to represent. I once more want to thank the SS.CC principals and sisters for their efforts and support not only to English but to all educational matters. I want to say thank you to OUP, UK and Librairie Samir for their sponsorship. I want to thank Mr. Stephen Pringle for his valuable support and concern. Thank you.

From the International Seminar in the Middle East – North Africa – 1997″]

Congrégation des Soeurs des Saints Coeurs ” Bureau Pedagogique – English Department