- The centre, an affiliate of the Arabic Language Academy, has enabled more than 100 non-Arabic speakers to learn the language so far
- The centre offers free-to-join courses that are open to all
Afterschool programmes in which literacy is a component offer the potential to provide Arabic language learners with much needed support, not just academically, but socially and culturally as well. It is with this goal in mind that the Arabic Language Academy in Sharjah (ALA) established its Arabic Language Centre as a leading hub for teaching the language to non-native speakers from around the world.
Through concerted efforts to promote Arabic among non-Arabs, ALA seeks to position Arabic as a global language and emphasise its instrumental role in furthering the emirate’s cultural project.
Since its inception in 2018, the ALA’s Arabic Language Centre has celebrated the graduation of more than 100 students from countries like the Philippines, India, Pakistan, the UK including Scotland and England, the US, Germany, Mauritius, China, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Iran, and South Korea.
The centre offers courses that aim to converge cultures, promote the aesthetics of the Arabic language, and showcase its eloquence through the enhancement of the four essential language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as the nuances of pronunciation for non-native speakers. It seeks to further cross-cultural communication and boost students’ integration and involvement within the UAE community.
Dr. Mohammad Safi Al Mostaghanemi, Secretary General of ALA, underlined that the emirate’s cultural movement conceived by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, had its roots in his love of the Arabic language, and the Arab and Islamic identity. He pointed out that Sharjah’s cultural initiatives and projects seek to leverage the advances made by Arab culture and showcase it to the world.
“Through ALA’s Arabic Language Centre, we seek to further the concerted efforts to promote Arabic and introduce non-native speakers to the qualities that set it apart. We look forward to re-opening the centre in January next year, with all recommended safety and precautionary protocols in place,” he added.
Three course levels
In order to reach the largest number of people, the courses have been structured to target learners at various levels of competence, starting with the ‘Beginner’ level course. The ‘Intermediate’ course is aimed at learners who can form sentences and can converse in simple Arabic. The ‘Advanced’ level course targets learners who can speak almost fluently and desire to advance their knowledge of the language across the four skill areas of reading, listening, writing and speaking.
Students are enrolled in a 45-hour course taken across 10 weeks, comprising 30 lessons of 90 minutes each. On completing each level, students will sit for an evaluation examination and based on the results, they either move to a higher level or repeat the same level. At the end of the course, the students are presented a certificate of completion.
Four successful courses
So far, four successful batches have completed the courses offered by the centre. The inaugural course was introduced in October 2018. Following its success, the second batch of courses was launched in January 2019. Two more batches followed, in April and September 2019 respectively.
The courses have been popular among employees of government entities such as the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (SBA) and Sharjah Performing Arts Academy (SPAA), given the flexible timings offered by the centre.
Cooperation agreements to promote Arabic learning
In keeping with the continuing efforts to expand its reach to the largest number of people, the centre has signed memoranda of understanding with the American University of Sharjah (AUS), and the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies – South Korea to provide a framework of cooperation and facilitate collaboration between the institutions in areas of mutual interest. The aim is to initiate and enhance cultural dialogue through student exchange programmes as well as promote Arabic language among non-Arabs.
The centre offered a package of special learning hours to non-Arab students from the AUS and received 22 students from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies who were hosted in Sharjah for a month-long immersive course last January. Students had the unique opportunity to experience Arabic language and culture and explore the authentic customs and traditions of Emirati society.
About the Arabic Language Academy in Sharjah
The Arabic Language Academy (ALA) is an academic entity affiliated to the Sharjah Government. Its core functions include supporting the work of Arabic language academies across the Arab and Islamic worlds, and promoting linguistic research and cross-cultural dialogue worldwide.
Since inception, ALA has facilitated varied research projects in Arabic language. Additionally, it has supported language learning programmes, with a particular focus on youth, and encouraged them to undertake specialised study in the field of Arabic language and literature. The Academy is also supervising, planning and providing financial support to complete the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language.
ALA was founded to promote Sharjah’s vision to preserve and promote the rich heritage of Arabic, and focus on the expansion of its lexicon with the creation of modern dictionaries for both speakers and writers of the language. Facilitating key working collaborations between Arabic language academies and cultural centres, as well as offering a networking platform to intellectuals, scholars and researchers worldwide, are also part of ALA’s mission.