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Teaching English to Arabic Speakers: Cultural and Linguistic Considerations NSCC IEP Collaboration Day permission granted to use/ modify materials for.

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching English to Arabic Speakers: Cultural and Linguistic Considerations NSCC IEP Collaboration Day permission granted to use/ modify materials for."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching English to Arabic Speakers: Cultural and Linguistic Considerations NSCC IEP Collaboration Day permission granted to use/ modify materials for IEP Collaboration Day by: Shira Packer, M.A. York University English Language Institute (YUELI), Toronto, ON

2 Objectives To increase understanding ofTo increase understanding of –linguistic contrasts between English and Arabic with potential learning barriers) –cultural differences that may affect student learning To use this information toTo use this information to –increase repertoire of effective teaching techniques which accommodate Arabic speakers –address more effective learning strategies

3 IEP student population NSCC ANGOLA1 BOLIVIA1 BURKINA2 CAMERO2 CHINA110 GUINEA2 HONGKONG7 INDONESIA3 JAPAN11 JORDAN2 KUWAIT1 LIBYA1 MONGOL2 SAUDIA ARABIA219 SKOREA27 TAIWAN5 THAILAnd1 VIETNAM10

4 Working with Arabic-speaking ESL Learners introduce yourself at your table and level. Please address any of the following in regards to teaching our Arabic speaking students: 1.What has been working for you and your class this quarter? 2.What has been problematic? 3. Have you had to modify your teaching strategies? Any successful stories/ strategies?

5 Activity: At your table, organize your discussion into a chart What do we know/ think we already know about our Muslim/Arab students? What questions do we have about our Muslim/Arab students? What format(s) would be helpful in the future to get more information about this population?

6 Linguistic Considerations 1.What differences are you aware of between the Arabic and English language (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, rhetoric, literacy, script, etc.)? 2.How might these differences affect English language learning of Arabic speakers? 3.What other language learning strengths and challenges do Arabic speakers generally have?

7 Linguistic Considerations: Literacy Arabic alphabet and script: right to left cursive number characters are non-European no distinct upper and lower case forms consonant-based system where vowels are noted with diacritics (harakat) and often omitted Often foster “ poor ” writing skills in first language (Khuwaileh & Al Shoumali, 2000) How does this affect learning English? Poor penmanship Write characters from right to left (e.g. ‘ e ’, ‘ r ’, ‘ n ’ ) Slower recognition and processing of letters (especially vowels) and words Difficulty with reading comprehension literacy skills involving speed may become obstacles (skimming, scanning, dictation, note-taking)

8 Linguistic Considerations: Vocabulary & Grammar Few borrowed words from Arabic –low frequency of transfer related errors –more intrinsic difficulty 3-consonant root word system –k-t-b = writing root –Kit ɑɑ b= book –k ɑ t ɑ b ɑ = he wrote –m ɑ kt ɑ b = office –m ɑ kt ɑ b ɑ = library Verbs –No ‘ be ’ verb (e.g. My teacher very smart) –verb forms incorporate pronouns, subject, and object in morphology (e.g. John he works there) –No phrasal verbs

9 Linguistic Considerations: Vocabulary & Grammar cont… Articles –No indefinite articles in Arabic Nouns –Singular, plural, and ‘ dual ’ Prepositions –Indicated via prefix Complex Sentences (Thompson-Panos & Thomas-Ruzic, 1983) –Subordinate clause parallelism (e.g. The student arrived while she carries her book) –No relative pronouns (e.g. It is the woman (who) she has a red coat) –Arabic relator (e.g. This is the sweater which I lost it; The sons when they grow up, they think about their parents.)

10 What teaching techniques can we use to help learners with these problems? Exploit concept of word derivation & word families for vocabulary development Focus on: –‘ be ’ verb –indefinite article usage Use sentence combining exercises which stress: – subject and object relative pronoun deletion rules. –parallel verb structures in time clauses Linguistic Considerations: Vocabulary & Grammar cont…

11 Linguistic Considerations: Pronunciation & Spelling (Lehn & Slager, 1959; Thompson-Panos & Thomas-Ruzic, 1983) Relationship between spelling & pronunciation Stress-timed sentence stress Vowels: –Distinct vowel phonemes: ~11 English vs. 6 Arabic –allophonic variants /u/, /o/, and / Ɔ / (e.g. boot, boat, and bought) / ɛ /, /æ/, / ɑ /, and / ʌ / (e.g. bet, bat, bought, and but)

12 Linguistic Considerations: Pronunciation & Spelling (Lehn & Slager, 1959; Thompson-Panos & Thomas-Ruzic, 1983) Consonants: –In labial to velar regions: ~23 English vs. 16 Arabic –In post–velar regions: 1 English vs. 7 Arabic –/p/ vs. /b/ and /f/ vs. /v/ –No /ð/ or /θ/ in colloquial Arabic –/tdsz/ are alveolar in English vs. dental in Arabic –Consonant clusters: e.g. spring: /sprIŋ/  /s ə prIŋ/ e.g. film: /fIlm/  /fIl ə m/

13 Linguistic Considerations: Pronunciation Exercise Circle the word you hear: 1.Did you get the chicken ( box / pox )? 2.I love the ( burbs / burps ). 3.Do you need a little ( push / bush )? 4.Try not to ( bruise it / prove it ). 5.This ( prick / brick ) will only hurt a bit. 6.Vegetarians like ( braised / praised ) vegetables. What does it sound like if you mix up the /b/ and the /p/ in the following phrases? polar bear probably pretty bad rumble

14 Rhetorical & Stylistic Considerations Arabic speakers may exhibit (Thompson-Panos & Thomas- Ruzic, 1983): Overuse of: Repetition of main ideas Multiple supporting points within a paragraph Religious concepts and references as supporting points Directness Exaggeration (superlative) Synthesis of ideas (coordination) Pronouns without clear reference Teaching Implications: Providing new supporting arguments Paragraphing to isolate supporting points Academic publications as references Indirectness Avoid generalizations ( “ one of the ” + superlative) Analysis of ideas (subordination) Antecedent identification

15 Cultural Considerations 1.Please describe some cultural differences that you have observed between Arabic speakers and Westerners. 2.To what extent might these cultural differences affect the learning capacity of Arabic speakers? 3.Has your school made any special religious accommodations for Muslim students? 4.To what extent should schools make accommodations for Muslim students?

16 Cultural Considerations: Assimilation Classroom conventions –Absences & lates –Privacy issues –Turn-at-talk Religious issues –Prayer times and space –Ramadan –Diet and drink –Hijab (veil) Personal independence –Lifestyle (decision making, cooking, etc) –Family ties & social connections Family Life –Marriage responsibilities –Pregnancies –Daycare Gender in the classroom –Gender request for teacher –Husband-wife or brother- sister requests for same class –Occasional problem with female completing outside classroom assignments

17 Q & A To what extent should English language institutions… a) modify teaching curriculum and/or techniques to accommodate Arabic speaking learners? b) accommodate Arab cultural differences? c) help graduates enter university programs? Koran Sura 105: “ Have you not seen what God did to the owners of the elephants? ”

18 Works Cited Al Jarf, R. (2008). The impact of English as an international language (EIL) upon Arabic in Saudi Arabia. Asian EFL Journal, 10(4). Hayes-Harb, R. (2006). Native speakers of Arabic and ESL texts: Evidence for the transfer of written word identification processes. TESOL Quarterly, 40(2), Khuwaileh, A. A. and Shoumali, A. A. (2000). Writing errors: A study of the writing ability of Arab learners of academic English and Arabic at university. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 13(2), Lehn, W. and Slager, W. R. (1959). A contrastive study of Egyptian Arabic and American English: The segmental phonemes. Language Learning, 9(1-2), Thompson-Panos, K. and Thomas-Ruzic, M. (1983). The least you should know about Arabic: Implications for the ESL writing instructor. TESOL Quarterly, 17(4),


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