Teaching Arabic in the Gulf : opportunities, merits, and challenges

NYUAD at MESAI recently had the pleasure of attending an NYUAD-supported talk at the 2015 MESA (Middle East Scholars Association) conference in Denver, Colorado. The title was Teaching Arabic in the Globalized Arab Societies of the Gulf. Our professors Muhamed Al Khalil, Nasser Isleem, Laila Familiar, and Khulood Kittaneh gave presentations to the group about their activities at NYUAD.

Laila Familiar delivered a presentation entitled Contemporary Gulf Narrative as a Pedagogical Tool to Promote Language and Culture Proficiency. In other words, the talk was about incorporating fiction and other cultural texts in the Arabic language curriculum as she had done with the publication of Hoda Barakat’s Sayyidi wa Habibi: The Authorized Abridged Edition for Students of Arabic.

Nasser Isleem and Khulood Kittaneh reported on the success of their immersion-style j-term course in a presentation entitled Promoting Language Proficiency and Intercultural Competence in Arabic Language Through Short Intensive Immersion Program in the City of Al Ain. This comes on the heels of Nasser’s recently published and popular book Ramsah : an introduction to learning Emirati dialect and culture. Their activities even merited a report in the local Arabic news here (beginning at 11:30 minutes).

Program director Muhamed Al Khalil gave us a big picture view of Arabic language in his case study of U.A.E. policy entitled Linguistic and Extra-Linguistic Influences on Language Policy in Globalized Economies. This comes amid nervous discussion across the Arab-speaking world and elsewhere that Arabic is losing its influence.

There were other great presentations about the Middle East at the MESA conference, including a book and vendor exhibit highlighting the latest scholarly publications in this field.

NYUAD Library has a number of great resources for learning Arabic and researching in Arabic. Check out the Arabic Learning Research Guide for a survey of the types of resources available. And always, you are more than welcome to come into the library for a consultation!

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