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Emirati dialect in decline among students but English is up

 
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:58 pm    Post subject: Emirati dialect in decline among students but English is up Reply with quote

Emirati dialect faces threat of decline
By Melanie Swan, The National | April 20, 2014
Source: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/heritage/emirati-dialect-faces-threat-of-decline

DUBAI---The Emirati dialect is in decline, say experts, as more residents are increasingly speaking better English than their native Arabic.

While the emphasis in recent years has been on teaching Arabic-speaking Emiratis to master English, the balance, at least in Dubai, has now swung the other way. Joanne Seymour, an academic based in Dubai, is studying for her PhD from the University of Bath on Emiratis studying Fusha in the classroom. Ms Seymour, who speaks fluent Arabic, began her research after hearing about the home life of expatriate Arabs and Emiratis, particularly how their parents who would speak to them only in English in an attempt to give their children a “head start” with the language. “Of those who had been through private education, some went to university abroad and others felt they wanted to give their children a better head start than they had with English being such a prevalent language here.

“People began asking me to help with their Arabic and I saw a family where the parents spoke to the children in English while the Filipino nanny spoke to them in Arabic.” The phenomena is something fairly unique to Dubai, said Ms Seymour, where last year almost 31,000 Emirati students were enrolled in private schools. That figure is about 55 to 60 per cent of all Emirati pupils in the emirate. “You don’t see this in countries like Egypt or Qatar, or even in other emirates as much,” said Ms Seymour, adding she believed it was the responsibility of the community to bring about change. “We can’t rely just on schools to teach Arabic, it must be the responsibility of parents, teachers, the media and advertisers. I hate to see signs or adverts not in Arabic or with no Arabic translation. We’re not changing Facebook or Twitter, but there needs to be Arabic equivalents of Harry Potter, not just literature that is translated.” The problem also stemmed from early years education that in the majority is provided in English. “This is where the home is so important,” said Ms Seymour.

To address the issue, Hanan Al Fardan established the Al Ramsa Institute in the Dubai Chamber of Commerce to teach the Emirati dialect. She had been overwhelmed by the amount of interest from locals. “They come to me because they feel shame. Maybe one of their parents is non-Emirati or maybe they studied in private education but they don’t know their own dialect,” said Ms Al Fardan, who is Emirati.
The typical client was in their 20s and employed in a job where they needed to be bilingual, such as a government department where they needed to display their Emirati roots through a grasp of the local language. “I would like to see more Emirati teachers,” said Ms Al Fardan. “They don’t realise there is a demand for Emirati dialect. It’s becoming a dying language and the kids are speaking English because of the schools and media here. Sometimes they express themselves better in English.”

Shaikha Al Attas, who lives in Abu Dhabi, overcame this challenge with her two sons, aged 12 and 9, by insisting they attend government schools. “I want them to interact with other Arabic-speaking students. It supports the language more than other schools and friends influence them.” When her children are at home, Ms Al Attas, who was raised in Indonesia and married an Emirati, insists they converse with their father in Arabic. “Now they are bilingual but it has been a challenge,” she said.

(End of article)
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rdobbs98



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is bunch of bull, the English is horrible within the local community and they constantly use Arabic, not English. This is the entire problem here, the crutch of Arabic hurts the development of English.

When you have 4 or 5 classes a day in Arabic and maybe 2 or 3 only in English, its no wonder the skills aren't developed. Just look at the Cambridge results. Even the PYP program lingers on because as The National pointed out, the local population's English skills aren't being developed.

http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/almost-9-in-10-students-not-ready-for-university-in-english
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

However, this particular article addresses the lack of Arabic proficiency based on Emiratis who attend private not government schools; they learn English at an earlier age and from native speakers. I doubt you'd see many of these students in English foundation year programs in UAE's federal universities.
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a related note...

Why Emiratis pick private schools
By Noor Nazzal, Gulf News | 27 April 2014
Source: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/education/why-emiratis-pick-private-schools-1.1324786

Dubai: The quality of education and better English language skills draw Emiratis to private schools, but they admit that this comes at the cost of losing touch with their culture.

A Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) study titled ‘In search of a good education’, highlights the reasons why 50 per cent of Emirati parents surveyed prefer private education despite public schools in the UAE offering free education to Emiratis. Of the Emirati parents surveyed, 22 per cent believed that private schools offer better English language instruction.

Asma Al Qaseer, an Emirati, who studied in a private school in Sharjah from kindergarten to grade 12, agreed with the survey’s findings. “My parents believed that a private school would provide me with a better education in a sense that I would be able to speak English fluently and be able to enter a university of my choice,” she said. Asma’s parents went to public schools and she said they were barely able to converse in English, which is why they wanted to provide her with what they didn’t have.

In Dubai, there are more Emiratis enrolled in private rather than public schools. Another KHDA report published earlier this month found that almost 60 per cent of Emiratis (30,994 students) are enrolled in private schools in Dubai.

Asma believes that the private school she attended provided her with stronger bilingual skills and an understanding of world cultures. She admitted, however, that she lost the advantages she would have had in a public school. “A public school’s strengths include stronger Arabic skills and a better understanding of the UAE culture because public schools celebrate National Day and other Emirati events.” Nevertheless, Asma said that when she has children, she will enrol them in private schools to make sure they get a good education in English.

Ahmad Bin Al Shaikh, another Emirati, said studying in a private school allows him to be exposed to a wide range of cultures and a mixed-gender environment, which made him open-minded. Al Shaikh believes that the only advantage of attending a public school is that education is free. Public schools usually provide low-quality education, lack of multiculturalism and one way of thinking, he said. “Private schools provide great education, multiculturalism, critical thinking,” he added. Al Shaikh, however, admitted that the price Emiratis pay is losing touch with their own culture and blending with other cultures that sometimes do not adhere to Emirati social and cultural norms.

Sara Al Ali, another Emirati who graduated from a private school, said her education allowed her to graduate from university with ease. “I graduated from a private school and now my son is enrolled in one as well. I believe it provides a great education. The only thing is that my son is using words and accents from other Arab culture instead of his own.”

Sara fears that her son is moving away from her culture, but her husband makes sure he takes him to Emirati social gatherings.

(End of article)
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some UAE students ‘more comfortable’ using English
By Melanie Swan, The National | March 28, 2015
Source: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/education/some-uae-students-more-comfortable-using-english

DUBAI // An increasing number of Arab students say they are more comfortable speaking in English than their mother tongue.

Ayman Hussein, 25, is studying for a Masters in marketing and communications at Middlesex University. He was born in Sudan but says having been in the UAE since the age of three, he is now more comfortable with English. “I would say that coming to the UAE is the reason for this,” he said. “I’ve never been to the US or Canada and yet my English is very strong and I say that’s because of growing up in the UAE. I can communicate well in Arabic and I don’t feel it’s a weakness, it’s a preference.”

Maha Hussein, 24, is a masters student at the University of Wollongong Dubai, studying media and communication. Having lived in Canada and the US before moving to the UAE 12 years ago, the Libyan considers herself a native English speaker but she feels her Arabic skills are as strong. “I would always choose to write assignments in English,” she said. “Going back to Libya makes me realise how important it is to speak and maintain Arabic because there’s no English there whatsoever.” The reason her family moved to the UAE was to reconnect the children with Arabic. “It’s easy to become too reliant on English and dismiss Arabic. I had Arab friends who sounded like five-year-olds and it was embarrassing,” she said.

Dr Afaf Al Bataineh, acting director of the Institute of Arabic Language at Zayed University, said: “The Arabic language has received extensive support from UAE leaders and policymakers.
“Most UAE and Arab families wish to teach children their national language. In fact, most families and young adults believe that Arabic is an essential part of their identity.”

However, he acknowledges that the diverse nature of the UAE poses challenges. “As a result of the cosmopolitan nature of the cities in which we live today, and because of the multi ethnicities and nationalities that live side-by-side in the UAE, English has become the dominant language in the public sphere, trade, communication, entertainment and media. Hence, Arabic became no different than any other language. This means that individuals, families, schools, communities and the media must do more to consolidate the teaching, learning and use of Arabic."

Among Emirati students, Dr Al Bataineh said, the differences in their ability to speak and write are apparent. “In general, students who study Arabic in public schools tend to have strong Arabic-language skills while students who study Arabic in private schools tend to struggle,” he said. “The main challenge seems to be students’ inability to use Arabic for communication purposes effectively, particularly the written form.

“Most believe that Arabic is a difficult language to master and this difficulty is often attributed to inability to use the grammar correctly. Many students seem to be extremely weak in using Arabic for academic purposes and many complain that they received little training on how to structure the written forms.”

(End of article)
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

English language ‘seducing’ UAE pupils
By Roberta Pennington, The National | December 9, 2014
Source: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/english-language-seducing-uae-pupils

DUBAI // The English language is “seducing” pupils, leaving them unable to properly speak and write in Arabic by the time they arrive at university, a conference heard on Monday.

“We have been for years telling our children you have to love the Arabic language but we don’t present that language to them in a friendly way,” Dr Lana Mamkegh, Jordan’s minister of culture, told a panel on the status of Emirati youth. “The curriculum that is being adopted is far from attractive for our children. We can see our children are comparing between the really seductive English language and the non-attractive Arabic language because we are presenting these languages wrongly.”

Panellists at the First Knowledge Conference called for more use of Arabic in public institutions and praised the Government for putting the language high on the agenda. The FNC is planning a federal law to protect the mother tongue by making it the language of instruction in public schools.

“The problem is the UAE is a cosmopolitan society and the national population is very small,” said Dr Sulaiman Al Jassim, former Zayed University president. “That’s why we see the English language dominating in all business, in all banking. That affects radically the language in schools. Nationals take their children to private schools where they teach English and those boys and girls go to university and their Arabic language is very weak.”

The Arab Knowledge Report 2014, which was released at the forum, confirmed that language continued to be a challenge for Emiratis. “Preserving the native Arabic language in the UAE means preserving the identity of the society and culture,” says the annual report, which was conducted by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation in partnership with the UN Development Programme.

The report surveyed 2,142 students from UAE University, Zayed University and the Higher Colleges of Technology. Researchers measured their skills in areas such as problem-solving, communications, technology and other skills. When it came to their Arabic writing skills, the students’ mean score was 11.09 out of 20, indicating an “average” performance or “about the minimum required,” the report says. Only two of the students achieved a score of 20.

“This is a cause for concern,” the report noted. “All of the above strongly calls for the need to work on developing the written and communication skills of young Emiratis, not only at the university level but also more essentially during their earlier fundamental stages.”

Arabic is critical to preserving and advancing Emirati culture, customs and traditions, said Kaltham Al Maged, assistant professor at the Institute for Islamic World Studies at Zayed University. “There is what you may call a linguistic conflict,” said Prof Al Maged. “Our students study English at great lengths, thus leading to English really superseding Arabic. This does pose a problem because the UAE youth may not have the language he or she requires to transfer knowledge in a proper way. “So I believe we should start improving our Arabic language and teach Arabic so that we could be more successful in the transfer and localisation of knowledge.”

(End of article)
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veiledsentiments



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem is not English, the problem is that they do a lousy job of teaching Arabic too. Even back in the late 80's, the students repeatedly told me that they couldn't write in Arabic (or read) any better than English. And these were kids that went through the public schools, not just English based schools.

They may respect Arabic and love to hear it recited by the Quranic scholars or poetry around the majlis, but most don't seem to feel the need to be able to do it themselves... beyond memorization required in their school classes. They told me that reading was done purely for practicing oral production with proper cadence and pronunciation. (this is why I never allowed oral reading in my English class... wanted to stress that reading was for comprehension).

It really comes down to the fact that there is such a variance between Colloquial and Classical Arabic. When they get to elementary school, they are, in effect, learning a new language as it is. It is as if we got to 1st grade and it was in Shakespearean English... and then we get to university and most of the courses are in French... or German.

It is no wonder that they aren't particularly good at either Arabic or English.

VS
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

veiledsentiments wrote:
The problem is not English, the problem is that they do a lousy job of teaching Arabic too.

There were a couple of articles last year in The National reporting that the country's public school Arabic teachers were to be trained on learner-centered teaching strategies. That's all good, but getting their buy-in to a different mindset and way of teaching is a long process and not something that will happen overnight.
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Gulezar



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

veiledsentiments wrote:
It really comes down to the fact that there is such a variance between Colloquial and Classical Arabic. When they get to elementary school, they are, in effect, learning a new language as it is. It is as if we got to 1st grade and it was in Shakespearean English... VS


The Arabic teachers have also probably come from a culture that values education and reading and the great classics. It must be quite a cultural shock for a teacher from Jordan, Egypt or Iraq to come into a classroom of students who have so little exposure literature and books.
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veiledsentiments



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They recognized this fact and discussed it regularly in the press... and universities... more than 20 years ago.

Change in this area has continued to be glacial, but I do see more progress in the last 5 years than in the previous 15+.

VS
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