Learning Arabic for Non-native Arabic Speakers - Difficulties and How to Overcome!

Sunday 25 Dec 2022

Arabic letters


1/ Preface

Language is the container of the historical and Cultural heritage of any nation. At the strength eras of most ancient civilizations, the language was powerful and eloquent. Whereas, at the weaknesses eras, the language was  suffering as if it is an ill body. The concept of strengths and weaknesses of a language has many aspects. As all sciences and knowledge are in need for a language to have been preserved  and maintained. So when the  different kinds of science and knowledge are  prosperous, the language turns to be prosperous as a result. When a nation becomes weak and fragile, that means it is weak in all fields(  political, economic, educational). Consequently, learning and educational process Affected by these adverse conditions and bad circumstances. Therefore, The availability of efficient teachers, scholars, scientists and researchers becomes rare so the language freezes. It is not able to develop itself by itself. It is not able to renew its linguistic body with modern scientific idioms or new linguistic synonyms etc. On the other hand when a nation is powerful and in growth and progress state, The language becomes powerful and in progress as well. As there are a Variety of established books and scientific researches which written by the creative scholars every year. In fact any language affected by and influenced by the surrounding conditions, cultural circumstances and  other languages as well. The powerful languages affect the frigid inflexible languages. The solid frigid languages imitate and adopt the powerful one. They use many citations from it and add them to their linguistic body.

What is worth mentioning is that teaching the Arabic language to non native Arabic speakers has become a wide field that attracts so many learners from all over the world to learn the Arabic language. We will discuss the reasons behind this. Stay with us.

2/ The Prominence Of The Arabic language

  It is one of the main languages in the world. It is the language of the Holy Quran. It is the language that one billion and a half (nearly a quarter of the world's population) use it in their five daily prayers. So it is pronounced and spoken by the quarter of the world's population daily. It is the language that millions of books written in it.

3/ Reasons Behind The Increased Demand For Learning The Arabic language Nowadays

The past couples decades have witnessed some entirely ever-increasing demand of learning Arabic language. The reasons of this high demand is due to:-

3/1 Wide prevalence Of Social  Networking All Over The World

The world has become a small village whose all its inhabitants are from many different nationalities. They meet virtually and talk to each other every day. They exchange their thoughts, beliefs,  cultures and historical information. No doubt that the language is involved in this social process. 

3/2 The Increased Number Of People Embracing Islam

Many people were converted and are converting to Islam every day. This matter made the demand for learning the Arabic language is increasing.

3/3 Emergence of The concept of Islamophobia

During the last 20 years the cultural clash and the dynamic conflicts between cultures civilizations  forced many foreigners to learn Arabic language to be able to know more about the Arabic civilization and to gain more information about the Islamic culture.

3/4 The Emergence of Arab creators  On The Global Scene

 Emergence of many Creative figures in many different fields (authors, writers, scientific researchers) who won different world awards and prizes encouraged many non native Arabic speakers to learn the Arabic language in order to have an idea about the Arabic culture.

4/ What Is Meant By Quranic Arabic Term And Modern Standard Arabic Term( fus'ha)

 Allah the Almighty and the most High has sent down the Holy Quran by jibril to His slave and prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as a linguistic eloquent miracle. This eloquent miracle is also considered as a challenge to the Arab's great  proficiency and accuracy of the Arabic language eloquence in this Era. So the language of the Holy Quran is a miraculous eloquence. It is worth mentioning that at this time, the great Arab poets and writers were so famous for their linguistic eloquence. They wrote wonderful poems and literary and anthology  arts which are still alive and famous until now. They managed to achieve powerful standards of mastering and commanding all the aspects of the Arabic language  to the extent that they used to held  annual exhibitions for the most eloquent poems and literary masterpieces. It was named the Aokaz exhibition for poetry and literary works. Allah the most High defied them to bring writings equal to the linguistic eloquence of the writings of the Holy Quran but they couldn't. He The most High then, defied them to bring just a line similar to the Holy Qur’an but they couldn't do either.

The Quranic Arabic is unique in its statements, phrases, clauses, expressions, word synonyms, and linguistic meanings. It is always distinguished with its pure divine music which dwells among the statements and phrases of the Holy Qur’an. It is unprecedented.

On the other hand, the linguistic concept of Modern Standard Arabic language (MSA) is much more known in writing usage than in spoken discourse in recent decades. It tends to be formal nowadays. As it is not popular in the spoken language among Arabs nowadays. But it is worth mentioning that is an obligation to use modern standard Arabic language in governmental treats, educational systems, journalism, documentaries, and in formal political meetings and conferences. It is also used in a rare hypothetical situation when two native Arabic speakers have difficulty understanding each other due to the dialect difference between them. So they would resort to it for communication; this is a very uncommon instance.

A typical Arab person knows their dialect. They use ( MSA) as a second option. If they are discussing a religious matter, they would use the modern standard Arabic language as well. Although most Arabs use their dialects, it is important to note that the modern standard Arabic language (Fus'ha) is preserved deep within in their hearts. They appreciate and honor it very much.

To learn Quranic Arabic or to Learn Quran Online in general demands following up with qualified quran teacher whether offline or with Online Quran Teacher or Academy as long as it has the proficiency of learning face to face.

5/ Difficulties And Challenges of Learning Arabic Language Facing Non-Native Arabic speakers

In this section we will try to present obstacles, difficulties and challenges that face the process of learning the Arabic language for non-native speakers. Here they are:

5/1 Lack of  a Specific Curriculum For Teaching The Arabic Language As a Second Language

There is no specific curriculum with sequence levels for teaching the Arabic language as a second language. It is worth mentioning that there is a great difference between teaching Arabic or any language as a first language and teaching it as a second language.

In the absence of new specific curriculums, teachers and tutors are practicing the Arabic language teaching process on a discretionary basis which might not always be in the best ways.

5/2  Scarcity of  Departments Teaching Arabic as a Second Language in The Universities of the Arab World  

Some colleges cared about teaching the students many foreign language such as English  French Spanish to be able to spread Islam all over the world. But these colleges forgot to teach their students how to teach the Arabic language as a second language. They may have thought that they don't need to learn how to teach Arabic because they are already Native Arabic language speakers. In fact that is a big mistake because they ignored the difference between teaching the Arabic language as a first language and teaching it as a second language.

They also forgot to set a curriculum with specific levels (novice -primary -intermediate–advanced) to be taught to the learners who aspire to learn the Arabic language.

5/2/1 My own Experience

I have a special experience as I was eligible for a scholarship for the USA in a program set by AMIDST, The U.S. Embassy Cultural Heritage Center of the Department of State's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. The program was about to teach critical languages (Arabic and Chinese languages) in some American schools. One of the steps of the eligible applications is to establish the curriculum the candidate will teach it there. That is because there is no specific certified curriculum for teaching Arabic as a second language in the Library of Arabic Literature.

5/3 Lack of  Specific  Linguistic Certified Tests Similar to DAF, TOEFL, TOESL And ILETS 

Most Centers of the Departments of State's Bureaus of Education and Cultural Affairs have a certified language test of the mother tongue such as TOEFL Test which set by American Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.  There is also ILETS Test which set by the British Council and DAF Test for passing the  German-language. Unfortunately all Bureaus of Education and Cultural Affairs of Arabian Embassies all over the world haven't Language Tests similar to these ones.

5/4 The Minority of Qualified Academies And Institutes That Teach Arabic Language

There are a lot of Academies that teach Arabic language.

But limited number of these Academies are certified. A minority of these academies has a qualified staff of teachers and educational supervisor. In Pakistan which the Arabic language is not the mother tongue of  country. There are hundreds of online academies teaching the Arabic language. What is a ridiculous things! They are not qualified because they don't have a certified staff who graduated from Al-azhar Ash Sharif university or similar universities. But it seems that the aim to just make money made many people   with Principles and Values.

5/5 Lack of a Specific Methodological Theory For Teaching The Arabic Language

Methodologic points of views and theories of teaching the English language appeared during the World War as a need to learn English and other languages for military purposes. It started with Grammar Translation Methods, then The Audi Lingual Method. After that these linguistic methods and approaches developed over the years. It is worth mentioning that there is no specific methodological theory or appropriate linguistic approaches for teaching the Arabic language as a second language. Believe it or not.

5/6 Scarcity Of Well-Qualified Teachers Teaching The Arabic Language As a Second Language.

This is a very logical result to the point mentioned above in section 5/2. It is the absence of Specialized teaching departments for teaching the Arabic language as a second language in the Universities of the Arab World.

  In their research about teaching Arabic language for non-native speakers Basma Ahmad, Sedki Dajani, Salwa Mubaideen and  Fatima Mohammad Amin Omari from the University of Jordan Amman mentioned in their research the following lines," The effectiveness of teaching Arabic for speakers of other languages depends on a variety of characteristics in order to achieve the goals of teaching. So, we have to get rid of the idea that every speaker of a language is able to teach it, since to speak a language is totally different from teaching it, especially when students are speakers of other languages.

On the academic level, the teacher should fully comprehend certain aspects of the Arabic language such as: grammar, syntax and language structures and should have proper knowledge."

5/7  Scarcity of Educational Books Specialized in Teaching Arabic as a second language

Although these books-in the case of they are easy to be obtained -  depended on the discretionary efforts of their authors but they are still not available in most of the Arabian libraries.

6/ Ways And Suggestions to Overcome These Obstacles

Here are my own thoughts and suggestions for dealing with these challenges and difficulties.

6/1 Establishing Specialized Language Departments For Teaching The Arabic language As a Second Language In all The Universities of The Arab world

I think this suggestion will be a great value for the effectiveness of teaching the Arabic language.

6/2 Establishing Annual Conferences For Discussing Ways And Procedures of Teaching The Arabic Language

Inviting linguistic scholars,  teachers, academic researchers and learners to attend an annual conference for discussing and presenting new thoughts and modern educational trends will obviously assist in creating a successful and healthy environment for teaching the Arabic language. It also will provide us with guidance about the best and most modern procedures and methods of teaching the Arabic language as a second language.

6/3 Establishing Common Standardized Arabic language Test

Similar to the worldwide language tests that mentioned above. The Arabic language should have unified test for all learners who are studying it.

6/4 Establishing  A Unified Standardized Curriculum

It is a must. We should establish A unified Curriculum with sequence levels(Novice- intermediate- advanced).

6/5 Availability of Booklets,  Handbooks, Periodicals Specialized in Teaching Arabic language

They should be available electronically and in person. It will help both teachers and learners to develop the educational process. In this way the effectiveness of the learning process will be increased.

6/6 Focusing on Three main Axes( The Learner-The Teacher- The program taught- The Visual Aids.)

 Basma Ahmad, Sedki Dajani, Salwa Mubaideen, and Fatima Mohammad Amin Omari from the University of Jordan Amman mentioned in their research about the effectiveness of the Arabic language process, the following lines;" The effectiveness of teaching Arabic for speakers of other languages is affected by many factors; some of these factors are related to teachers, learners, the Program,(a program that meets the learners' needs and the language sides.) The process of teaching Arabic to speakers of other languages can be effective through these overlapping factors: the teachers' characteristics, learners' characteristics, the program, the programs' ability to meet the learners' needs, and the audio-visual aids. These factors should integrate and work harmoniously to give the desired results.

Actually, there are some similarities, for example, between English and Arabic, since both use lingual forms, such as: nouns, verbs, sentences, etc. and they express similar functions, like description, demand, analysis, etc., and all other human languages are similar too. But they extremely varied in the phonemic, morphological, syntactical and semantic systems, which affect learning Arabic as a second language."

6/7  Availability of Efficient Phonetic Laps With Specific  Spoken Materials

Each language has four main skills, Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. For effective teaching of the listening and speaking skills of the Arabic language, the existence of Phonetic Laps should be available. It is worth mentioning that if these Laps are set without specific  Arabic phonetic curriculum, they will be useless.

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