Second International Conference Of Language Center At Doha Institute Begins


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: The second international conference of the Language Center at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies begins today, February 24, 2024, under the title“Arabic as a Heritage Language: Issues and Approaches,” with the participation of more than fifty researchers offering new contributions in the field of Arabic as a Heritage Language through approaches that include issues of Arabic language learners inside Arabic-speaking communities as well as outside.

The different sessions will be spread over three days discussing various topics that include:heritage language concepts, bilingualism and biliteracy, challenges of teaching Arabic as a heritage language, the efforts of parents, organizations and schools and their mandates, universities' role and the economic opportunities to teach a heritage language.

In the opening remarks, Dr Alaa ElGibali, Director of the Language Center, explained that the importance of this conference is not limited to the number of interventions scheduled on its agenda; but expands to the diversity of approaches and specializations presented in the 51 interventions as it reflects a broad interest in this issue and a depth of knowledge associated with it.

Dr. ElGibali added that the conference is of particular importance due to the specificity of the category of heritage language learners and their needs that are elusive to many of the workers in the field of teaching Arabic. The conference emerges as a platform that is hoped to provide effective solutions and theoretical answers that benefit those working in this field. It is believed to reflect positively on the motivation of heritage Language learnersto learn the Arabic Language or continuing to learn it.

The conference was opened with a lecture on the Linguistic Features of Arabic as a Heritage and Diasporic Language, by Dr. Elabbas Benmamoun, Professor in the Department of East Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Program in Linguistics at Duke University, where he presented a summary of the empirical studies and research on Heritage language explaining how this can be beneficial in meeting the particular needs of these learners.

The first session included a number of research papers, starting with Dr. Saussan Khalil, Senior Teaching Associate in Arabicat the University of Cambridge, talking about“Creating a comprehensive and systematic approach to Arabic as a heritage language: curriculum, resources and training”. It was followed by Dr. Hanada Taha, Director of the Zai Arabic Language Research Center and the Endowed Professor of Arabic Language Education at Zayed University, arguing that the pedagogical view is the most imperative in the students' competence of Arabic language education through her talk“Strangers in their Homelands,”, while the presentation“Towards an Evidence-based Arabic as a Heritage Language Policy in Qatar Foundation Schools” discussed the linguistic policies supporting Arabic as a heritage language in the Arab Gulf States and Qataras presented by Mohamed Mahgoub, an Education Researcher at Qatar Foundation's Pre-University Education, and Martine Elie, Head of Research and Evaluation at the Qatar Foundation's Pre-University Education.

From her side, Dr. Rasha Elhawari, Senior Lecturer of Arabic in the Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics and the Director of the Arabic Program at Concordia University in Canada, presented her research on the“Design and Implementation of an Arabic HLL Course: A Case Study from Montreal”.

The second session titled“Identity and linguistic policies"was moderated by Dr. Haider Saeed, the Head of the Research Department of the Arab Research Centre,on the Arabic language policies for Its inheritors: The legal context and the pedagogical perspective presented by Abdullah Abdullah, Professor of Law at Qatar University Faculty of Law, and Abdulazim Abdulazim Abdeladim, Assistant Professor of the Deanship of General Studies at Qatar University.

Anouar Benyaish, an academic specializing in Arabic literature and language didactics in Morocco, gave a talk on“ Arabic as a Heritage language and immunizing the cultural identity of minorities In the European Diaspora Countries”, while both Carine Allaf, Senior Programs Advisor at Qatar Foundation International (QFI) and Tony Calderbank who works to expand access to QFI programs throughout the U.K and Ireland, discussed how learning Arabic contributes to students from Arabic-speaking backgrounds' identity, and how Arabic language educators can best respond to support learning that is both relevant and meaningful?

As for Dr. Ashraf Abdelhay, Associate Professor of the Linguistics and Arabic Lexicography Program at the DI, highlighted the concept of "Arabic as a heritage language" beyond the colonial construction of language: A decolonial investigation.

In a public lecture by Senior Academic Advisor and President Emeritus of the American Councils for International Education, and Emeritus Professor of Russian and Second Language Acquisition, Dr David Danson, he attempted to answer the question“What is the“Heritage Advantage?” Evidence for Arabic, Chinese and Russian from the Long-Term Overseas Immersion Flagship Programs.

The sessions of the first day were concluded with a third session entitled“Pedagogical Approaches,” moderated by Dr. Fouad Al-Qaisi,senior lecturer in the Language Center at the DI, where Dr. Alaa ElGibali, Director of the Language Center, presented his research paper on mixing language acquisition strategies for heritage language learners and building on data from the mother tongue in children's acquisition of classical Arabic. Professor of Arabic Language, Linguistics and Translation at the University of Leeds, Dr. Ruba Khammum, spoke about“New Pedagogical Strategies to Transform Arabic Heritage Learners' Language Acquisition Skills, Engagement and Proficiency Level”. This was followed by the topic of utilizing the spoken regional varieties in the Arabic classroom: Teachers' perceptions, as deliberated by Rash Sulaiman, Associate Professor of Arabic Language and Linguistics, and Melissa Towler, a Postdoctoral Researcher for the University of Leedsinvestigating Arabic teaching in UK schools.

The conference will continueon the second day with an opening session by Dr. Driss Cherkaoui, Associate Professor of Arabic in the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, at the College of William and Mary, on“Teaching the Arabic Language to its Heirs: Challenges and Strategies”. Along with the sessions to follow that bring together the competencies and the curriculum as Dr. Silvina Montrul, speaks about“Supporting Heritage Language Acquisition When It Matters Most”.

The evening sessions are dedicated to addressing case studies outside the Arab world, covering the reality of language inheritors in America, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Emirates, and Jordan. On the other hand, thelast day's sessions will approach the issue of Heritage Language methodologically, and even consider the role of artificial intelligence in teaching Arabic.

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