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. . . . Online Writing Collaboration Project ) (OWCp . 0076 . . . OWCP Ask Dr Reima - - 3002 . .OWCp OWCp " " ) (

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College Students Attitudes towards Using English and Arabic as a Medium of Instruction Prof. Reima Sado Al-Jarf King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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Abstract The study investigated college students attitudes towards the teaching and learning of English and Arabic, towards using English and Arabic as a medium of instruction at the university level, and the types of educational reforms that need to be carried out in the light of their responses. Findings of interviews and questionnaires administered to a sample of students at Jordan University and King Saud University showed that 45% of the subjects prefer to educate their children at an international school where they can learn all the subjects in English at a very young age. 96% of the students at Jordan University and 82% of the subjects at king Saud University believe that Arabic can be used as a medium of instruction in religion, history, Arabic literature and education, whereas English is more appropriate for teaching medicine, pharmacy, engineering, science, nursing, and computer science. Findings indicated that the students are more keen on teaching their children English than Arabic. They consider English a superior language, being an international language, and the language of science and technology, research, electronic databases, technical terminology, dictionaries, and teaching methodology. They gave many educational, vocational, technological, social reasons for favoring the English language. The study concluded that Arabic is facing a serious threat by the expansion of English language in all walks of life, lack of language planning, linguistic policies that protect, revive and develop the Arabic language, inadequate Arabicization processes in the Arab world, inadequate number of technical books translated and published in Arabic, misconceptions among college students about first and second language acquisition by children and adults, and about the language of instruction at medical and technological colleges around the world.

A response to Prof. Remia Paper

Prof. Reima

by Meteab

Thank you very much for posting a link to the paper in OWCp. I posted the abstract here so we can discuss with other international peers who might have difficulties to access the English abstract in Wata. webiste. I found your paper of a great importance for discussion here. I wish OWCp members read the paper and share their viewpoints with us. I am positive that Prof. Reima will be glad to answer any question you might have about her study. So please let us discuss this important study. Prof. Reima, your studys findings and recommendations support THE ARAB HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2003 Building a knowledge society, which calls for reforming the Arabic language teaching methods. As all of you may have read, the report has examined the status of Arab knowledge today in terms of demand, production and dissemination, and has indicated that the Arabic language is, however, facing severe challenges and a real crisis in theorization, grammar, vocabulary, usage, documentation, creativity and criticism (p.7).

Authors of the report emphasized the importance of the Arabic language as the system that should be the medium of the new technologies in the Arab world. However, they indicated that there are external (political) and internal factors (social, economical, educational, and others) that have negatively influenced teaching and learning Arabic language. Educationally, The teaching of Arabic is undergoing a severe crisis in terms of both methodology and curricula. The most apparent aspect of this crisis is the growing neglect of the functional aspects of (Arabic) language use. Arabic language skills in

5 everyday life have deteriorated and Arabic language classes are often restricted to writing at the expense of reading(P.7).

I would argue here too that both reading and writing are almost neglected to be taught interactively and reflectively. Both skills are taught as two distinct units and students were taught a language in classroom that is to some extent not connected to their daily life. The Arabic language students learn in classroom is not exact same one they use for communication. It is only the language of reading and writing; the formal language of intellectuals and academics, often used to display knowledge in lectures. Classical Arabic is not the language of cordial, spontaneous expression, emotions, daily encounters and ordinary communication. It is not a vehicle for discovering ones inner self or outer surroundings(p.7)

The report thus underlines that it has become necessary to work determinedly on strengthening the linguistic shields of Arabic and on sharpening its practical attributes, which emphasize its universal character and its ability to assimilate new informational and technological developments. This is in addition to consolidating its relationship with world languages and providing the necessary economic, social and technical conditions for enhancing the language and its creative products (p.7)

Moreover, the report has also discussed the issue of how the Arabic language and culture are facing serious challenges of an emerging global cultural multiplicity, cultural personalities, the issue of the self and the other, and its own cultural character (p.27)

Concerns about the extinction of the language and culture and the diminution and dissipation of identity have become omnipresent in Arab thought and culture. (p.27) This issue in particular was discussed by Chill out, Prof. Reima, Meteab. Hanan, Sadeem and others in this thread;pagenumber=1 Authors indicated however the importance of global and human cultural interaction. They also have emphasized the need of advancing the Arabic language by undertaking serious research and linguistic reform for translating scientific terms and coining simple linguistic usages(p.31).

6 Authors have also called for facilitating the acquisition of Arabic through formal and informal learning channels to produce creative and innovative writing for young children. One of the major reform authors emphasized is the use of technology in the language classrooms to provide students with interactive tools that links learners with global audience to receive new forms of knowledge, to facilitate and encourage greater interaction with other nations and cultures of the world. Authors argue. Openness, interaction, assimilation, absorption, revision, criticism and examination cannot but stimulate creative knowledge production in Arab societies, (p.27).

However, authors view the rise of information technology as a new challenge to the Arabic language today. So to create a knowledge society, to increase the hope for Arab human development, authors suggest that the Arabic language system should be the system used for building the knowledge society and shaping its success.

The Arabic language is the distinctive feature that distinguishes the Arab identity. It is the language of the holy Quraan. And it was the rallying point for the intellectual, spiritual, literary and social activities incarnated in an entire human civilization, namely the Arab Islamic civilization. (p.133)

To empower the Arabic Language in the Information age, Arabic should be the medium used for Information Communication Technologies (ICT). This according to the authors requires strong commitment to sharing information resources on both the national and regional levels.

ICT as a tool for knowledge acquisition should focus on: (a) boosting literacy, especially among women; (b) lowering monopolistic barriers for Internet providers and telecommunications developers; (c) lowering other costs affecting access to the Internet; (d) overcoming restrictions on ICT access by gender, economic capability, geographic location or social conditions; (e) Using ICT as a tool for life-long learning.

7 At the regional level, a strong pan-Arab information policy could be founded on the following strategic principles:

Adopting a supra-sectoral approach, i.e., policies that respond to the growing integration of the information, media and telecommunications sectors

Adopting a cultural approach to the information industry while recognising the computerization of the Arabic language is a basic springboard for Arab ICT development and applications.

Emphasising Arab information integration, especially the principle of sharing resources and data.

Giving priority to the utilization of ICT in the fields of education, training, and public health and building an infrastructure for the Arab cultural industry.

To conclude the authors have suggested some proposals to construct a simplified Arabic standard to advance Arabic Some specific suggestions follow:


One proposal in this regard is to initiate a creative composition movement for young children: a movement conducted by renowned, capable writers able to tame, simplify and modernize the language without sacrificing its inherent values. Success would give new generations of Arab writers and readers a vibrant medium for producing Arab works with new vistas and inspiration.

2) Related to this, the inauguration of serious research in Arabic language studies, preferably on the pan-Arab level, is a key priority. Arabic linguists should participate with specialists in other disciplines to: 3) Compile specialized, functional dictionaries and thesauruses. These could be especially useful in the production of materials for children and educational curricula, in addition to specialized scientific materials.

4) Cast scientific terminology in Arabic and coin derived terms free from obscurities.

5) Conduct research to facilitate Arabic grammatical rules and simplify their terminology. 6) Write general books on Arabic grammar transcending national curricula to present 7) models that show how to teach correct language without excessive reliance on rules. 8) 9) Facilitate the acquisition of correct Arabic via various formal and non-formal learning channels. Encourage the computerization of the Arabic language.

10) Enrich the Arabic content of information networks and websites.

More supportive quotes

The Arabisation of university educationis a further priority, not for reasons of nationalism per se, but as a prerequisite for developing native tools of thought, analysis and creativity. Arabisation of higher studies will also accelerate the social assimilation of rapidly changing and advancing knowledge, a marked feature of the knowledge society. Moreover, so long as the sciences are not taught in Arabic, it will be difficult to build bridges between the various disciplines. But it is absolutely critical that efforts to Arabise knowledge proceed in tandem with the improvement of foreign language teaching in all fields of knowledge. Both avenues of knowledge acquisition must be kept open (p.182)

Promoting Arabisation also requires a new outlook on the mechanisms of word-construction; encouraging writing in Arabic in various scientific fields; supporting machine translation and using information technologies to build terminology banks and to analyse the conceptual structure of Arabic words so that foreign terms pass into Arabic with maximum fidelity to the concepts they contain. (p.182)