BEIRUT: The Arabic language is one of the few languages that still lacks fixed and comprehensive standards when it comes teaching and testing, according to educational expert Adnan el-Amine.
Directing a seminar held in Le Bristol Hotel entitled “Arab and International Experiences in measuring the Capability of University Students in Mother Tongue Language,” Amine explained that “there are simply no fixed standards telling us how to teach students the Arabic language in every stage of education.”
The series of seminars held for the seventh year for the occasion of the mother tongue language international day kicked off Thursday with the participation and sponsorship of Sidon MP Bahia Hariri, in addition to a number of educational figures. The secretary general of the UNESCO Lebanese National Committee, the institution that convened the seminar, Salwa Siniora Baasiri welcomed the audience stressing that “ the committee was interested in coming up with a method to measure the abilities of students in their mother tongue language so that they explore its ability in the fields of knowledge, science, philosophy and sociology.”
For her part, Hariri praised the seminar “because it’s centered around testing students for their abilities in their mother tongue language just before joining university.” She added that improving the use of the native language during the high school phase is critical because it represents the last chance for the new generation to master their mother tongue. “If this opportunity is wasted, it means that our children will not be able to lead and improve their societies in the future, as language is the only means of communication between educated people,” Hariri said.
Rita Maalouf Salameh, the executive manager of the Arab Educational Information Network project, demonstrated the several stages by which the project translated the International Educational Thesaurus into Arabic. “Developing and translating the thesaurus in spite of difficulties and challenges implies that the Arabic language is capable of providing synonyms for foreign language words and adapting to modern concepts,” Salameh said.
Participants listened to lectures by Henry Ouaiss, the director of the Language and Translation Academy and the School of Translation at Saint Joseph University, Barbara Shaheen Batlouni, the head of Lebanon’s Amideast office, and Abdel-Rahman Shamrani, from Saudi Arabia’s Higher Education National Center for Measurement and Evaluation. The three outlined their experience with testing students’ ability in French, English and Arabic as foreign languages.
However, members of the media expressed their dissatisfaction about the event, which was billed as focusing on the mother tongue.
Ouaiss responded by highlighting that “today’s seminar was complimentary to last year’s edition, which tackled the capabilities of the Lebanese in their native language.”