The importance of improving the level of Arabic taught within schools in the UAE has been underlined by the hosting of a teacher's conference on the subject held yesterday in Abu Dhabi.
The conference was organised jointly by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) along with Aldar Academies and Cambridge Education. Entitled 'My Language is My Identity' it was attended by 61 teachers from schools in Abu Dhabi.
There have been many issues raised over the years by the authorities as well as by other interested parties such as employers about how Arabic specifically is taught in the UAE. This varies from so-called 'contamination' of classical Arabic by more colloquial forms of the language, to concerns raised about the ability of graduating pupils to use the language effectively, particularly in written communication.
The teaching style of Arabic teachers who themselves have been taught according to the 'sticks and sweets' method of punishment and reward has also been a cause for concern. This has led to some private schools in the UAE, particularly those teaching the American and British curricula, to recruit Arabic teachers who have experience teaching pupils in the UK and in the States.
The issue of Arabic is further complicated by medium of instruction being English within private schools, meaning often Arabic pupils often leave education with a good spoken Arabic, but weaker ability to write in the language. That is in spite of the fact that Arabic is a core subject for all pupils, whether in private or public schools in the UAE, and students study Arabic up to three hours a week from the age of four.