Welcome to the Arabic Language Discussion Forum

Being a retired professor of Arabic and Linguistics, I have elected to publish an archive on how the Arabic language is used in America and across cultures.

I hope to establish a dialogue with people interested in the language, the teaching of the language, the learning of the language, and the interaction of Arabic and English while learning the language.

I am also interested in having a discussion as to the use of Arabic within the contexts of globalization.

Arabic is very much a language that binds a culture and defines a people. This blog is dedicated to understanding how American use, learn, and teach the Arabic language, and how Arabic, in Arab countries has been impacted crossculturally.

Feb 27, 2010

Conference on the Arabic Language in Lebanon: Comments

Lately, while on vacation, I have not been very active posting on my Blog. However, an article in the Daily Star of Lebanon prompted me to comment on three different points mentioned in the article.
The Daily Star (2/26) reported that a conference on “ Arabic Lacks Standards for Teaching, Testing-Expert” was held in Lebanon to discuss the lack of comprehensive test to measure “the capability of university students in Mother Tongue Language.”
A second point was briefly brought up, and that is the lack of tests to examine how to teach students the Arabic language.
Finally a comment made by the media, I assume the Lebanese media, attending the conference was “ their dissatisfaction about the event which was billed as focusing on the mother tongue.”
It is a fact that in most Arab countries high school students take an examination in the Arabic language as they would in any other subjects. They might fail or pass. The grade is then added to the overall score of the examination. There is no special college entrance examination to test students in Arabic prior to their admission to a university. I doubt that Arab countries, including Lebanon, would ever establish a standard entrance examination for native speakers of Arabic. It is taken for granted that when students graduate from high schools they know Arabic!
What should have been stressed in that conference is HOW TO TEACH STUDENTS THE ARABIC LANGUAGE? That is, the training of teachers should be seriously considered not only in Lebanon, but all over the Arab world.
There is definitely a regression in the teaching and the use of the Arabic language, that is modern standard Arabic, in the Arab world. This regression is due to the existing educational system, and the lack of applying modern methods in teaching the language. The archaic methods used to teach the language are the cause students dislike Arabic classes.
Finally, the use of the words ‘Mother Tongue Language’ to refer to college entrance examination was inappropriate. The media was dissatisfied that the conference did not focus on the Mother Tongue. I assume it expected the discussion of colloquial Lebanese, and its rampant use in the media.
This, of course, can lead to very interesting and heated discussions:
Is colloquial the MOTHER TONGUE, or is it rather the standard language that is the MOTHER TONGUE?
Do children begin the process of socialization in colloquial, or in standard
Any comment?

Copyright © 2010 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved

Feb 4, 2010

Study Arabic!

The best advise to students of Middle Eastern languages is to study Arabic and become fluent in it.
In an article in the daily newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh (2/1/2010) Simone Cheatham quoted a statement made by Cheryl Finlay, Director of Student Employment and Placement Assistance, who said “knowing a second language can help students find jobs in an unsteady economy.” Finley further quotes Alan Juffs a linguistic professor at Pitt who stressed the importance of learning French, Chinese and Arabic. People who are fluent in those languages “might have a higher chance of getting key jobs in government offices, especially with the FBI or the CIA.” Professor Juffs went on saying that students “could also use foreign languages to help them teach English to others, …or volunteer for organizations like the Peace Corps.”
Arabic and Chinese are both languages that play important role on the global stage. Hence, studying them is not only valuable for students to find jobs with the FBI or CIA or as English teachers. The knowledge of both languages will facilitate communication in the business world. They are international languages. In our global setting the knowledge of Arabic and Chinese will create many opportunities for employment in the international business sector. Knowing both the language and the culture of ones business partner will definitely facilitate and enhance all business deals.
Reuters reported on 1/27/2010 that Arab members of the World Trade Organization are pushing for Arabic to be made a fourth official language of the global trade body. Presently, English, French and Spanish are the official languages.
As mentioned in a previous post, the US is a leading power in advocating globalization. The American educational system must drastically improve the “concept of global education.” We have to train American students to be linguistically and culturally more aware of other cultures in order to succeed in any business undertaking.
In addition to the study of foreign languages, Professor Juffs advise students to study also linguistic. “Linguistic and modern languages complement each other.”

2010 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved