ABU DHABI // School principals and teachers say they recognise parental concerns about the way Arabic is being taught but insist they are improving the quality and methodology of tuition.
Brendon Fulton, principal of Dubai British School in The Springs, said many schools have been slow to improve Arabic teaching and allowed the subject to languish for too long, leading some to question its relevance.
"There seems to have been an acceptance that the quality of Arabic teaching does not need to be as high as in other areas," he said.
"For the majority of schools in the Emirates, improving standards of teaching in Arabic is right at the top of their agenda. The quality of Arabic teaching in DBS and Taaleem schools is improving significantly, as our development is based on the same methodology that we would apply to learning in any subject."
In Dubai, Arabic language classes are compulsory for all non-Arab pupils up to and including Grade 9. Compliance officers can carry out spot checks to see if this is being observed in classrooms across the emirate.
Parents whose native tongue is not Arabic remain concerned about the standards of teaching in several UAE schools, said Imad Nasr, director of Arabic at Jumeira Baccalaureate School.
"Some schools, like ours, are in direct contact with the western educational system and style of teaching, which expose children to new techniques and teaching strategies," he said. Mr Nasr -believed measures being implemented by the KHDA in Dubai and Adec in Abu Dhabi were helping matters.
"The UAE Government has introduced workshops, teaching instructive courses and learning requirements," he said. "The KHDA and Adec inspect the schools on a yearly basis.
"For the past two years, I have seen an improvement in Dubai. There is a living Arabic course whereby teachers go to schools and study different methods for teaching Arabic to students."
It is a question of having the framework in place to help children learn Arabic effectively and, if necessary, quickly, said Iain Colledge, principal of Raha International School in Abu Dhabi.
"There will always be challenges for international students who need to learn the local language if they are only going to be in the country for a limited time," he said. "This is why we provide teachers with extensive training to ensure lessons are engaging, fun and motivating.
Peter Carpenter, director of education at Aldar Academies, said the standards of teaching in Arabic remains a priority for private schools across the UAE.
"We’ve seen significant enhancements in Aldar Academies over the last few years," he said.