(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula
DOHA: The Arabic and Near Eastern Languages Department and the Department of Education at the American University of Beirut (AUB), in partnership with Qatar Foundation (QF) and Qatar Foundation International (QFI), recently held a forum titled ‘Arabic Language and Communication Skills in the 21st Century: Perspectives and Approaches'.
The two-day forum opened with a session led by AUB professor, Mahmoud Al Batal, followed by Dr Anies Al Hroub, Chairperson of the AUB Department of Education, and Maggie Mitchell Salem, Executive Director of QFI.
Participants included a number of lecturers who teach Arabic as a first and second language at university, primary, and secondary school levels in a number of Arab and non-Arab countries.
The forum aimed to review and discuss a number of theoretical and practical matters related to teaching communication skills in the curricula of Arabic language taught as a first and second language, and how to establish communication skills as a basis for shaping the curriculum.
The forum focused on linking the development of these skills to nurturing the critical and analytical thinking capacities of pupils through academic writing, a key topic of the discussions.
Dr Al Hroub said, 'The Arabic language suffers from issues that can be briefly summed up as the condescending view of its students, and social problems in which the speakers of foreign and Arab languages are divided into job market-related social and economic classes, and scholastic-pedagogy.
'If we focus on the later issue, we find that teaching Arabic, even in Lebanon, is limited to Arabic language, religious education, and history, while the scientific materials are taught in foreign languages. Thus, there is discriminatory separation between foreign languages and the Arabic language.
'Foreign languages help pupils to complete studies in science, medicine, and engineering, among others, and reach broader horizons, while the Arabic language is limited to poetry, religious studies, and mythology.
'This initiative marks the beginning of a concerted and important effort by AUB's Departments of Education and Arabic, in co-operation with QFI and QF, to study and address the challenges and problems faced by students trying to learn and communicate in Arabic at our schools in the Arab world and Lebanon.
'Our future project is to develop the means and methods of teaching Arabic in public and private schools in Arab countries.
Discussions during the conference focused on a number of key questions, including: ‘What is meant by communication in the context of teaching Arabic and its components and forms?', ‘What is the relationship of communication to the needs of learners?',
‘What is its place within the perceptions of teachers, curriculum designers, and parents?', ‘How to approach the concept of communication within the ‘One Arabic Language' system, which includes the heritage and contemporary philology and dialects', ‘How can communication be an essential part of the process of formulating learning outcomes for Arabic courses in all levels of teaching?'
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