x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Practical changes in way pupils learn Arabic

An initiative is trying to improve Arabic-language education in the capital.

An Al Ruwais Primary Boys School pupil works on his letters in an Arabic class. The new method of teaching will include more interaction with teachers and each other.
An Al Ruwais Primary Boys School pupil works on his letters in an Arabic class. The new method of teaching will include more interaction with teachers and each other.

ABU DHABI // The capital's education authorities have designed a programme to improve the way Arabic is taught in public schools.

Tama'an, which is Arabic for "observe carefully", was designed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) as part of a plan to modernise the capital's school system.

It has already been tested for a semester at the Al Thuraya School and will be introduced across the emirate next semester for children in grades 4, 5 and 6 in 268 public schools.

The new system will not apply to private schools but they are welcome to follow the curriculum, said Dr Karima Al Mazroui, the Arabic curriculum manager at Adec.

The main goal of the programme is to make teaching more interactive, with more emphasis on listening and speaking. It aims to encourage children to express their opinions and debate with others.

Reading and writing skills will be taught in a new way, encouraging children to explore different texts such as newspaper articles and stories. Pupils will be taught scientific research writing appropriate to their ages, and producing Arabic text on computers.

A group of 200 teachers, from Al Tamayuz School at Al Ain and Al Afaq School in Abu Dhabi, have already been trained in the system.

"More training will follow," Dr Al Mazroui said.

During the two-day training session, teachers are shown new tools to measure reading, writing and speaking skills.

"Those tools help develop educational activities and approaches, update content and outcomes that meet highest international standards," Dr Al Mazroui said.

"Thus, education is no more confined to the textbook but must be supported by exploring multi-based resources that contain literal, cognitive and persuasive texts."

Mohammed Gano, a language teacher in the capital, said there was a need to put more emphasis on teaching Arabic in schools.

"I give tuition to two Indian students and they know nothing," Mr Gano said of the public school pupils. "I think they did not benefit from [attending] school … most schools teach in a very classical and difficult way, not the modern way.

Language skills are becoming undermined among native speakers. Writing and mastery of formal Arabic in particular are suffering as more attention is placed on English.

"I think students spend more time learning English well," said Mr Gano.

"Learning a language needs a big effort to teach and to learn. It takes a lot of time and a lot of practice."

The new programme is part of the model that was last year introduced in kindergartens and school grades 1, 2 and 3.

The model aims to make education more interactive and develop the critical thinking of pupils.

The model will be introduced to more grades in later years.

vtodorova@thenational.ae