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Incompetent instructors or whinging Saudis? Or both?
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16121
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say that it would be darned near impossible to find any teacher with experience in the Middle East who would agree that starting to teach English in HS rather than elementary is a grand idea to have better language students... and all the research that I have ever read in my MA program in psycholinguistics etc... also disagree completely.

It makes me wonder if this man has EVER taught... anywhere in the world. Is he one of those "academic types" who wouldn't dirty his hands with actual classroom experience? Better to just pontificate... out of various bodily orifices...

The cure is to either start teaching English at grade one... academic English, not tourist English... or to just switch all Gulf universities to teaching in Arabic so that they don't need to know English at all. (Except for those with the wasta or money to go to the good International Schools which are taught in English... and send those students abroad to study when they graduate)

VS
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Geronimo



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 420

PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat,

We all agree - in principle- that earlier FL provision is advantageous for
the purposes of language acquisition. Al Mofreh would have liked to have seen a greater allocation of hours as well..
http://www.edarabia.com/20675/teachers-urge-english-to-be-taught-at-younger-age-in-saudi-arabia/
"He claimed that the little time given to teaching English in elementary and intermediate stages and the number of classes was not enough to yield good results."

You and I do appear to disagree upon the value of the opinion of someone with the credentials of Dr Al Mofreh, though. However, it doesn't follow that I would draw the same conclusions that Al Mufreh has done in this set of circumstances. Nonetheless, with this case, there is plenty of scope for scepticism about the efficacy of the implementation at this juncture. And I'd hesitate before calling a representative of a martial arts team "an idiot" in any case.

Back in 1997 I was happier than my South Korean Elementary Level School teacher trainees to spend my short break between semesters in an English Language classroom. For one, I was getting extra pay... I don't think that they received much extra for becoming English teachers - virtually overnight- at their Ministry of Education's behest. And, for sure, their level of English wasn't very high at the outset!

Also, back in 2007, in the U.K. this time, the National Union of Teachers raised a similar staffing concern...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/dec/31/schools.modernlanguages?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

And, even with the Scots leading the way,
there are still concerns in this regard to this today...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jun/11/michael-gove-primary-school-proposals?INTCMP=SRCH

There's the principle; and then there's the practice.

Eidh mubarak!

Geronimo
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
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Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Geronimo,

From Dr. Mofrah's resume, it would seem that he spent, at most, six years actually teaching in Saudi, three years as a primary/intermediate teacher in Asir and three years as a high school teacher in Asir/Jeddah. His last teaching job ended, as far as I can tell, in 1990.

I spent nineteen years teaching there, ending in 2003. My students at the IPA were all at least high school graduates, so I guess you could say I got the "end products" of the lower levels .

I have "set foot" (two of them, actually) in Saudi, and, while I admit I'm prejudiced, I believe that after matching my nineteen years to the good doctor's six, and my end date (2003) to his (1990), I just might have better credentials to evaluate the topic that he does, despite my having only an MA as compared to his Ph.D

I am curious, though - since you seem to agree with Dr. Al Mofreh's claims, may I ask how many years you taught/have taught in Saudi and at what levels?

Thanks,
John
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gelynch52ph



Joined: 15 Feb 2011
Posts: 132

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:11 am    Post subject: Re: Incompetent instructors or whinging Saudis? Or both? Reply with quote

wantok wrote:
And a large number of Saudi students at the college level often complain of lack of good teachers at the high school level. Equally, a great number of expatriate teachers at university level find it difficult to create a fitting teaching strategy when they compare the curricula to the students' proficiency level...

We see high interest among college-going Saudi students for learning English, and the number of students enrolled for English programs, for example, in King Khalid University is much higher than that in other subjects. What the students lack is general proficiency in English that they must have acquired at the high school level where they met with lack of a stimulating environment that could help enhance their motivation level...

What we experience among students in classes at university level includes: they have short attention spans; they are easily distracted from tasks; they are less responsive; they show no interest and willingness for self-paced learning; and they are always dependent on teachers' assistance for completion of tasks. There emerges a clear mismatch between the interest and enthusiasm that new students who get enrolled to learn English program carry when they enter the university premises and the shrinking interest and enthusiasm that they exhibit after a few months of learning...

Teachers, both at high school level and college or university level, carry the onus of creating unfriendly learning environment...

http://www.sauress.com/en/saudigazette/98826


After reading the article and having been a teacher in 4 different KSA locales I have this to offer. The Doctor has obviously not studied linguistics and language acquisition science or he would know that the ability to learn language easily virtually disappears (fossilization is the term) at around the normal age of puberty. When any student attempts to learn a language at the high school level he is going to be severely handicapped by his age (everywhere) and by his lack of real education and research skills in KSA in particular.

Most of my adult students who had any level of English at all were taught by mostly Egyptian English teachers who may or may not have even been proficient in the language themselves. Many Saudi students really do not know WHY they are studying the language and think it a waste of time. That leads to laziness and the ever present "negotiation" sessions when students want less homework, more time off for prayer, longer lunch, to go home early so they can beat the traffic to the Kuwait border (for Kuwaiti students) and similar time wasting exercises. Then there are the "conversion" attempts made by the religious students who know nothing of the world outside their little sphere of experience and who also think the only oil tap in the world is in KSA and believe Allah has provided an unlimited supply of the stuff.

Now I have a language question of my own. The title of the post is "Incompetent instructors or whinging Saudis?" I am American and I live in The Philippines so I talk to many expats from America, England, Australia and other English speaking countries. The word "WHINGING" is often used by Brits here and I know they are meaning what I say when I type "whining" which is the continuous form of the verb "whine." Is the use of the consonant "G" the British English spelling of the same word I spell "whining?" Just asking because it seems if I were to ask that question of the mostly retired Brits here it would only incite a riot over the validity of American English vs British English. Don't even get me started on Filipino English!!!
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12373
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The verb is "whinge" which has a similar meaning to "whine" but is in a lower, ie more vulgar, register
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gelynch52ph



Joined: 15 Feb 2011
Posts: 132

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:23 pm    Post subject: Whinge Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
The verb is "whinge" which has a similar meaning to "whine" but is in a lower, ie more vulgar, register


OK, so it is a Brit thing, thanks.

whinge audio (hwnj, wnj) KEY

intr.v.
Chiefly British whinged, whing·ing, whing·es

To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner.
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wantok



Joined: 05 Jul 2012
Posts: 168

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Study: http://britishisms.wordpress.com/

Selected Bibliography: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-ult2.htm

Compare with: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-yiddish-handbook-40-words-you-should-know/

Memorize. There will be a test. In Cocktail Chatter 101.

Mind the gap, mate.
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gelynch52ph



Joined: 15 Feb 2011
Posts: 132

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:49 pm    Post subject: Cocktail chatter Reply with quote

wantok wrote:
Study: http://britishisms.wordpress.com/

Selected Bibliography: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-ult2.htm

Compare with: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-yiddish-handbook-40-words-you-should-know/

Memorize. There will be a test. In Cocktail Chatter 101.

Mind the gap, mate.


Here in The Philippines it seems the Americans have learned to stay away with the people from that little island nation who are still fighting over the correct form of language and who also refuse to get over the fact that the "Yanks" told the to frack off and pushed them out. When in other countries where we don't all live around each other, the Brits and Americans are compatriots and not at each others throats over such lack of historical understanding.
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Geronimo



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 420

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat,

Dr Al Mofreh and his co-writers wrote the following in the introduction to their standard primary school textbook...

"The General Objectives of Teaching English Language for the Elementary Stage

1. Learn the basics of the English language that would form foundation for its mastery in the future. (My emphasis.)
2. Use the basic structures of English sentences.
3. Learn the core vocabulary assigned for this stage.
4. Listen and understand simple English language.
5. Express themselves orally using simple English language.
6. Read and understand simple written English language materials.
7. Write simple guided sentences in English language.
8. Appreciate the importance of English language as an international language of communication, for introducing Islam, the Islamic nation’s culture and the cultural achievements of Muslims to other nations.
9. Appreciate the importance of English language as an international
language of communication to benefit from the achievements of other
cultures in accordance with Islam."

Are these the words of someone who is opposed in principle to English language classes in Saudi Arabia's primary schools?

The textbook is available for sampling at:-
http://www.scribd.com/doc/47817423/6th-Grade-Student-s-Book

I am pleased that you have acknowledged that Dr Al Mofreh has attained the professional qualifications listed in his C.V., including hid Phd., M.A., B.A. in English Literature and Diploma in English Language Teaching. Sadly,
not all the posters on this thread have been able to attain that feat.

Now with regard to his work experience, I suspect that the main reason why Dr Al Mofreh has only taught English for 6 years in primary and secondary schools is that he has been fulfilling the requirements of higher status appointments in Education.

The Chairman of the Shoura Council's Research and Education Committees has a lot to contend with: for example,sacking a maths teacher who called upon school students to kiss his feet for extra exam points; too few university places for high school graduates; and the training of offenders in the Kingdom's overcrowded prisons....

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=2010071878404

and, please note the evidence of his research work in this report...
http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=20110821107730

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=200805136302

In response to your query concerning my own teaching experience in Saudi Arabia, I have taught in 4 cities in the K.S.A., working with SABIC companies' employees, trainees on a Saudi naval base and on an airforce base; I've worked with RSAF Technical instructors, administrators, aircraft technician trainees, and drivers' groups. I taught in the K.S.A. until fairly recently, and I continue to teach English in the Gulf region today.

Regards,

Geronimo
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Geronimo



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gelynch52ph wrote:-

Quote:
The Doctor has obviously not studied linguistics and language acquisition science or he would know that the ability to learn language easily virtually disappears (fossilization is the term) at around the normal age of puberty.


It is important on a forum such as this one to distinguish between the processes involved in First Language Acquisition and in Second Language Acquisition.
There are very significant differences for a language teacher to consider between these two!

There is an informative article on the "Critical Age Hypothesis" on wikipedia...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Age_Hypothesis
and a number of videos are available on youtube which contend with the
developments in the brain associated with first and second language acquisition.
Here is a link to one of them...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2i1z37nYMrM
and a favourite of mine...because brain surgery is one of my many hobbies...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLCGEJTOdU4

"Fossilization" is a term that requires definition here before it can be discussed intelligently...
as there are options for "the term"!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossilization_(linguistics)

Geronimo
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Geronimo



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert Lacey's "Inside the Kingdom" ... reviewed at:-

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/inside-the-kingdom-by-robert-lacey-1867907.html and...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jul/25/inside-the-kingdom-robert-lacey-book-review

offers some important insights into the political battleground
that is 'Education' in Saudi Arabia. On the one side of the debate there are the conservatives of the ulema,
the leading religious scholars. And, on the other side
there are the reformers, including King Abdullah.

Lacey records that, as Crown Prince, Abdullah appointed Mohammed Al-Rasheed as Education Minister. Al-Rasheed had caused controversy earlier in his career as an educationalist by suggesting that schoolgirls should have access to sports facilities. And, as Education Minister, he went on to introduce technology into Saudi schools; and he gave more curriculum time to science and maths - at the expense of religious lessons. What happened next?
Here are 2 extracts from Lacey's book -

"When it was discovered that he(Al-Rasheed) had travelled to a Beirut conference that was attended by female delegates from Saudi Arabia, lurid website stories depicted the minister as a lothario who had lured innocent Saudi women out of the kingdom by plane - "May He Be Cursed by God!" ran one headline. Thousands of telegrams addressed to 'Crown Prince Abdullah, the Royal Court, Riyadh' protested against the presidency of Girls' Education being surrendered to someone who had 'no ethics'.
The Crown Prince gave way.
"

The Crown Prince handed over the job to Dr Abdullah Al Obaid...
"He had started his educational career in the 1960s opening up girls' schools for King Faisal with detachments of armed troops. He can recall supervising one school where there were only two pupils for an entire year -the little daughters of the headteacher and the school caretaker.
"Then suddenly," he remembers, "everyone wanted to get their girls educated." He was also well qualified to supervise modern curriculum reform, having gained a PhD in the subject from the university of Oklahoma.
Unlike his predecessor, however, Abdullah Al Obaid sported a long beard and
chose not to wear an agal, the double black rope ring of the camel-herder, on top of his headdress.....So, the religious community concluded that Dr Al Obaid was one of them,and that, for the moment, the education of Saudi womenfolk remained in safe hands."


Robert Lacey gained access to members of the Royal Court, including Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.A. who sent a letter of thanks to Dr Al Mofreh.

Michaela Prokop's essay, "Saudi Arabia: the politics of education",

http://ipac.kacst.edu.sa/eDoc/eBook/4464.pdf

provides us with another informed view of this battleground.
I found the concluding part of this essay,
"The challenge of reforming the system"
especially relevant to the concerns of this thread.


Geronimo
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Geronimo,

"Are these the words of someone who is opposed in principle to English language classes in Saudi Arabia's primary schools?"

So, I guess you must be saying that the depiction of Dr. Al-Mofreh in the article cited is misleading and inaccurate?


"While Al-Mofreh sees teaching of English at primary level a waste of money and human resources, Al-Muqbil advocates for greater motivation to schools and teachers, in addition to revising the curriculum to improve the performance of English teachers."

Well, that's what started all this - so, is the article indulging in, at best, untruthfulness and, at worst, libel?

Regards,
John
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Geronimo



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 420

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat,

I was first prompted to post on this thread by a vicious ad hominem attack.
My initial purpose was to ridicule that personal attack on Dr Al Mofreh. You chose to defend that same attack on the basis that Dr Al Mofreh's opposition to English provision in the current K.S.A.'s Primary sector's curriculum meant that it was quite evident he was an "idiot" to everyone, irrespective of whether they 'knew him from Adam' or not.

Later, after having discovered that Dr Al Mofreh was the author of the main English text used in Saudi Primary schools, I became intrigued to discover why he should be opposed to his own book being studied in those schools.

Dr Al Mofreh's argument that there aren't enough qualified English teachers available- as presented in the article - appears to my mind to be highly questionable. I doubt whether there are sufficient numbers of well-trained Maths and Science teachers available in the Saudi Arabian school system, either. So, as Al Muqbil pointed out, Al Mofreh might as well call for their removal on the same basis. Is it really about staffing and technical resources - or is there some other reason for Dr Al Mofreh's change of outlook?
Persuasion from religious leaders, perhaps?

I am more favourably impressed by the stance taken by
Dr. Ali Mohammad Al-Asmari & M Shamsur Rabb Khan,
vice-dean and assistant professor, respectively, at the College of Science and Arts, Muhayel, King Khalid University, Abha...

"How can, if we go by Al-Mofreh’s opinion of teaching English intensively at high school, compensate it when teachers are not qualified, trained and motivated? Al-Muqbil provides half of the answer: he asks for employing female teachers at the elementary level, as is the norm in India, China, and Pakistan, for better results. The other half of the answer is to create qualified and trained teachers for elementary as well as high school levels, in addition to motivating them for teaching English with equal enthusiasm and attention."

King Abdullah is investing heavily in education through the
Tatweer Programme, a $2.4 billion project which features teacher-training.
Indeed, there are plans afoot for Saudi teachers to be trained in the U.K. now, but resistance within the K.S.A. to such programmes of change remains strong.
Under the heading:
"Saudi education reforms face resistance"
the Financial Times reported on developments...

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/07607fb0-6f5d-11e0-952c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2BjevcyoU

I am confident that you share in my desire for the success of the Tatweer programme. And let's hope that this 'hot potato' of curriculum reform can be debated openly in Saudi Arabian societythrough Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah's Dialogue Groups and elsewhere.

Regards,

Geronimo
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is the apocalypse coming when we start using Wikipedia as our source on the teaching of English? Laughing Laughing

Sorry Geronimo, but my comments refer to the stance quoted in the article with him saying that they should basically dump teaching English in Elementary and wait until High School - which is contrary to all of the research that I have read and to my own and all of my friends' experiences in this field.

If that is not what the good professor believes, perhaps he should sue the newspaper for ruining his reputation. Cool

VS
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Geronimo,

Sorry - I should have written "idiotic idea." (i.e. "While Al-Mofreh sees teaching of English at primary level a waste of money and human resources . . .).

Oh, there are a fair number of people I haven't known personally (don't know from Adam) that I consider to be idiots (e.g. Tea Party members, those who say hurricanes are God's punishment for allowing gay unions, etc.) based only on their screwball notions. If that's not OK, well, I fear I'm stuck with it. Too old to change now Very Happy

I assume that you must never consider anyone you haven't met to be a fool or an idiot. My congratulations on such forbearance - seriously.

Regards,
John
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