Friday, March 21, 2008

Arabic in the UAE

I've noted before what I consider the probability that some of the Gulf states, particularly the UAE, will wind up becoming English-speaking instead of Arabic speaker. Today Gulf News has a package taking a look at Arabic education in the country's private school system. This shows the depth of the problem:
"Many Emiratis live in the UAE their entire lives but struggle to learn Arabic. They say they regret having to enter wider society and the job market not knowing their native language. Such cases often come from graduates of private international schools.

"Born in the UK to an Emirati father and a British mother, Hassa speaks primarily in English at home and in school.

"'I had to quit my job recently because most of my work was in Arabic,' said the 22-year-old, who admits she prefers to converse in English.

"'I understand Arabic but I avoid speaking it because I don't want to make mistakes,"'she said, adding that sometimes she is looked down upon by Arabs when she tells them she does not speak Arabic."

There are more case studies in the article. Not only are we talking about bilingual education declined to make students fluent in English for the global economy, but with intermarriage, many Emiratis no longer get Arabic at home, which I hadn't considered before. You can read more about the situation here, here and here.



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