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Teacher training key to preserving Arabic in UAE Schools

Ongoing professional development is essential to maintaining high standards of classical Arabic amongst young Emiratis, says the Regional Chief of the world’s largest education company, Pearson.

Karim Daoud, Pearson’s Managing Director in the Middle East, has made the comments following the UAE Government’s announcement that it would legislate to preserve the Arabic language throughout the Emirates.

The Arabic Language Advisory Committee, headed by His Excellency, Sheikh Nayhan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, found that 18 percent of pupils in private schools and three percent of pupils in public schools were graded less than acceptable in Arabic – a trend the Government is hoping to reverse through the implementation of a new law devised to protect Arabic as the country’s principal language.

Mr Daoud said: that “Having superior English and Arabic language instruction available to students is of primary importance, both to individuals and the wider community: English language skills are becoming more and more important for the region’s young people as they seek to prosper in an increasingly globalised workforce. Research suggests that those with strong English language skills are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to find rewarding, well-remunerated work. However, the emphasis placed on English in the modern economic environment should not come at the expense of Arabic language instruction. The preservation of Arabic is of significant cultural, historic and religious importance, and we must strive to ensure classical Arabic instruction continues to be a key part of education in this region.”

The Committee believes that the reduced use of Arabic amongst students in the Emirates could be improved by revising teacher training and pedagogical methods, a point with which Mr Daoud agrees. He said: “What we are seeing is that teachers do not have the resources necessary to provide their students with optimal Arabic language instruction. Pearson’s Teacher Education and Leadership Academy has developed a special programme designed to equip teachers with the pedagogies and confidence they need to deliver highly engaging and successful Arabic language classes. With an emphasis on creating a student-centered learning environment, the Fundamentals of Interactive Arabic Teaching programme helps educators embed a firm understanding of classical Arabic in learners, as well as a lifelong appreciation and respect of the Arabic language. The programme is part of Pearson’s wider portfolio of Arab-specific solutions, all designed to provide the region with relevant and contextualised learning materials and place the Arab learner at the centre of the learning experience. We also recognise that the delivery of this professional development training needs to be available in Arabic, or delivered using the services of a translator, and where possible we are endeavouring to make this a reality.”