Muntasir Al-Hamad, an associate professor at the Arabic for Non-Native Speakers Center at Qatar University, agrees that there is “a big problem in most Arabic textbooks, due to the lack of a teaching treatment”. These books also fail to specify a target group, he said, “which makes them unsuitable for teaching in the classroom”.
In a Zoom interview with Al-Fanar Media, Al-Hamad said most Arabic university teachers “have not studied teaching and education methodologies” required to develop what they learned at universities.
Al-Hamad, who previously worked as a lecturer of Arabic and Oriental studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, in the United Kingdom, says that Mohamed’s textbook addresses the problem of poor language policy planning in Arab countries.
A large number of “language inheritors” use Arabic only at home, he said. Meanwhile, there is a serious decline in the public use of the mother tongue, despite it being the official language of all Arab countries.
Language policies should include making Arabic obligatory in school curricula, laws, regulations, and street signs, he said. But the lack of planning makes the investment of Arabic, as human capital, “nonexistent,” whereas English-language centres generate millions of dollars.
“No institution in the Arab region has managed to design a strong internationally recognised Arabic-language test that is approved by official institutions in the West, such as the well-known TOEFL and IELTS exams for English,” Al-Hamad said.
“Many official institutions in the Arab countries have become highly dependent on foreign languages, as a first language in practice and action,” he said. “Eventually, the foreign language has become part of the linguistic and expressive backbone.”
English Seen as Class Advancement
Mohamed noted a cultural shift towards the use of English by many Arab families, as a sign of what he called “class advancement”.
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“In the capitalist societies we live in today, people look to those who speak English as the finest and best,” he said. “They consider Arabic the language of farmers, the poor, and students at public schools.”
“We need to change people’s culture, to make them realise themselves and their language,” he concluded. “We need to closely follow up the implementation of language policies approved by Arab countries.”