Tribune News Network
QFI, a member organisation of Qatar Foundation (QF), convened attendees from 14 different countries across Europe, the UK, the US and Australia for a symposium on teaching and learning of Arabic language.
From changing perceptions about the Arabic language to building sustainable school programming, engaging communities and envisioning the future, panellists and attendees explored key questions and themes that shape the teaching and learning of Arabic today and developed actionable plans for future collaboration.
“We need to aim high: Arabic teachers should receive no less support than teachers of any other foreign language,” said panellist Paula Rötscher to a room full of educators, policymakers and academics.
Paula’s statement set the tone for ensuing conversations centred around the status of Arabic language education in Europe today – and goals for the future – in the QFI Symposium, titled Arabic Language Learning in Europe: Realities of Policy and Practice.
“In the case of Arabic, we should be ambitious,” added another panellist, Dr Fabrice Jaumont, president of the Centre for the Advancement of Languages, Education and Communities. “Universities should coordinate with high schools so that students don’t start their language journeys in university. We need to increase awareness of vocational pathways. We need to increase cooperation, establish robust networks and equip teachers to ensure success.”
For the past 14 years, QFI has been encouraging the study of Arabic as a global language by supporting the professionalisation of Arabic teaching and research-informed methodology and practices.
With extensive experience in Europe and the Americas, QFI supports educators, administrators, students, researchers and other experts across the Arabic language ecosystem to advance the value of teaching and learning Arabic as a global language.
“The symposium was an extraordinary opportunity for reflection. The sessions were thought-provoking, inspiring, highly engaging and provided valuable insights into the main challenges of teaching Arabic in the twenty-first century,” said Kurstin Gatt, lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Malta. “A diverse range of expert speakers from across Europe shared their expertise, sparking stimulating discussions among attendees.”
QFI envisions a future where Arabic is a global language offered in classrooms beyond the Arab world on par with other global languages such as French, German and Spanish. Through providing access to Arabic language education, students enjoy the benefits of a worldwide community of learners and a lifelong connection with modern, dynamic culture and language.
To make that vision a reality, QFI is committed to helping Arabic educators enhance their skills and giving them access to research-informed methodology so they can establish the most effective and cutting-edge teaching practices.
Primary and secondary level education faces a critical, global gap in Arabic language learning. QFI addresses this gap by supporting Arabic educators at the primary and secondary levels, as well as in social studies, math, science and the arts who intend to explore Arabic and the Arab world as part of their curriculum.
A critical gap remains at the university level in Europe and the Americas, however, where students who begin learning Arabic at a younger age have limited course options to continue their language studies.
Addressing these gaps and others are among the topics attendees hope to explore further in collaboration with new connections made at this Symposium.
“As a teacher, lecturer and student, the symposium helped me make valuable contacts which can help me turn my plans into measurable and achievable goals,” Gatt said. “I now feel part of a European, even an international support network that is ready to bring a change. I am very excited about what’s to come!”