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"Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

"Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Old Mar 5th 2013, 8:06 pm
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Default "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

http://m.thenational.ae/news/uae-new...n-our-children

Maybe of interest to some. Again, the argument about being competent in your mother tongue before learning a second language.

Experts warn of the effect the deteriorating status of Arabic is having on Emirati society and identity. "The majority of our children are lost," said Dr Mariam Al Suwaidi, professor at the department of Arabic language and literature at UAE University. "They are not good in Arabic or English. This is the real problem. The language is important to our identity."
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Old Mar 5th 2013, 9:06 pm
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

One of the huge problems in teaching English in the ME is that students do not have a good grounding in their mother tongue.
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 2:30 am
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Of course if these kids were raised by their Arabic speaking parents and not the maids, drivers and cooks then the problem wouldnt exist.

There is a generation of locals (now mostly dead) who are ashamed of what their grand and great grand children have become.
The easy option is to blame johhny foreigner as anything else would be tantamount to admitting a huge national failure
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 2:42 am
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by shiva View Post
Of course if these kids were raised by their Arabic speaking parents and not the maids, drivers and cooks then the problem wouldnt exist.

There is a generation of locals (now mostly dead) who are ashamed of what their grand and great grand children have become.
The easy option is to blame johhny foreigner as anything else would be tantamount to admitting a huge national failure
Spot on. I live in a compound with both Western and local families and I think it's such a shame when I see the kids outside playing with just the maid watching (or rather fiddling with her phone), you never see the parents playing with them. What goes on behind closed doors of course we'll never know, but I've had the Arab kids come over and start playing near or with me and my kids, it seems kind of foreign to them why an adult man would be outside playing with his kids.
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 3:10 am
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
One of the huge problems in teaching English in the ME is that students do not have a good grounding in their mother tongue.
In my short time here the biggest observation I have made about teaching here is the poor standard of written English but high ( compared to other countries ) level of spoken English . This may be a reflection of the countries as a whole . The people do a lot of speaking in English because of large foreign populations but not much writing .
Having read that article I do find it hard to believe that someone studying to be a teacher couldn't spell the word sun though . That does seem like an exaggeration . That word is in my children's Arabic book at KG .
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 3:20 am
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by Millsyisland View Post
Spot on. I live in a compound with both Western and local families and I think it's such a shame when I see the kids outside playing with just the maid watching (or rather fiddling with her phone), you never see the parents playing with them. What goes on behind closed doors of course we'll never know, but I've had the Arab kids come over and start playing near or with me and my kids, it seems kind of foreign to them why an adult man would be outside playing with his kids.
We go to public parks quite a lot and there are many parents playing with their children . How big a proportion of parents these people make up , who knows .
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 4:27 am
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by nonthaburi View Post
In my short time here the biggest observation I have made about teaching here is the poor standard of written English but high ( compared to other countries ) level of spoken English . .
I noticed this as well. And it is interesting to notice the contrast with China or Korea, where spoken English is generally much worse than the written version.

Last edited by Maxima; Mar 6th 2013 at 4:42 am.
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 5:16 am
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by Maxima View Post
I noticed this as well. And it is interesting to notice the contrast with China or Korea, where spoken English is generally much worse than the written version.
Same in Thailand and Cambodia . The kids are okay at writing stuff but they are really bad at speaking . Could be do to with the culture of teaching in those countries . Kids in Asia are taught to listen to the teacher as the teacher is always right . Are they more studious when it comes to grammar rules ect ??
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 9:40 am
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by Maxima View Post
I noticed this as well. And it is interesting to notice the contrast with China or Korea, where spoken English is generally much worse than the written version.
A lot of that is to do with the completely different nature of Mandarin and Korean when compared to English. Plus the fact those countries just don't have the numbers and permeation of non-natives others do. China in particular is very much Chinese.

The problem in the GCC as someone has already pointed out is that many locals let maids raise their children, won't discipline them correctly or make sure they really do study hard. Nannies help to raise children and are very expensive - maids help to clean and tidy the house and shouldn't be relied upon for anything else.

They brought this upon themselves - a culture that is not self-critical. Massive handouts and a sense of privilege from their governments who are terrified of rebellion etc etc.

I think the old generation must feel ashamed. I moan about my country and know we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater but we're not as bad as this lot. It will take a generation or two to fix - assuming they want to fix it.

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Old Mar 6th 2013, 9:52 am
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

My wife taught KG in Saudi Arabia. The children were a mixture of Westerners, "other nationalities" and Saudis. One Saudi kid always had his maid with him. She was the one who took on the responsibility of doing the colouring book and the writing.
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 12:09 pm
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by Maxima View Post
I noticed this as well. And it is interesting to notice the contrast with China or Korea, where spoken English is generally much worse than the written version.
From my observations this is true, at least in China. I think one of the problems they have is that although they are taught to a high technical level in such things as phonetics and grammar they are badly lacking in actual speaking opportunities. Often on trains for example, young people will come up to me and ask if they can practice their English!

An old friend of my wife is an English teacher and has been for many years. When I first met her about 10 years ago she could not communicate with me. I am sure she was nervous and shy when confronted by the low wai (foreigner) but we couldn't get it off the ground. This was solved a few years later when she got some Gov't grant and went to Australia for 3 months immersion and is now very comfortable and fluent.
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 1:56 pm
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by Jim Smith View Post
From my observations this is true, at least in China. I think one of the problems they have is that although they are taught to a high technical level in such things as phonetics and grammar they are badly lacking in actual speaking opportunities. Often on trains for example, young people will come up to me and ask if they can practice their English!

An old friend of my wife is an English teacher and has been for many years. When I first met her about 10 years ago she could not communicate with me. I am sure she was nervous and shy when confronted by the low wai (foreigner) but we couldn't get it off the ground. This was solved a few years later when she got some Gov't grant and went to Australia for 3 months immersion and is now very comfortable and fluent.
Definitely the same in Thailand . The Thai teachers teaching English , whilst often having a better understanding of grammar than native speakers were absolutely crap at speaking English unless they had had practice for a considerable amount of time , or a lot of contact with foreigners over years of working with them .
As for the children , although Thailand does have millions of foreigners go there on holiday each year and many foreigners living in BKK , normal kids and adults too , have zero contact with a Westerner unless it is to serve them in a shop , bar , cinema etc where conversation is limited . Often in a shop staff will not want to serve you because they can't speak English . The look of relief they have when you speak to them in Thai is quite funny .
Perhaps also for cultural reasons Thais are very shy about going up to strangers and just speaking English . University students do seem to do this in parks quite a lot though . One of the funniest ones for me was when my eldest son cut his head open . I could see his skull , me and three nurses holding him down while the doctor did the stitching . Obviously he just wants to talk to me about the game between Man U and Liverpool the night before . Not what I needed at the time .
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 2:36 pm
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
My wife taught KG in Saudi Arabia. The children were a mixture of Westerners, "other nationalities" and Saudis. One Saudi kid always had his maid with him. She was the one who took on the responsibility of doing the colouring book and the writing.
This reminds me of the Emiratis teens (early 90s) who used one of those portable light hand luggage trolleys to wheel their school bags.
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 4:05 pm
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

A lot of East Asian (and interestingly, West African) languages are mainly assonanical (I believe that's the term) which rely heavily on vowel sounds. Most European languages and Arabic are more driven by consonant sounds. Things like tone and pitch, which are incidental in consonantal languages, are critical to meaning in assonanical languages. Hence the mutual level of difficulty in speaking and pronunciation between them (I guess most Europeans sounds really daft trying to speak Cantonese also).
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Old Mar 6th 2013, 5:14 pm
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Default Re: "Stop Imposing English on Our Children"

Originally Posted by Miss Anne Thrope View Post
A lot of East Asian (and interestingly, West African) languages are mainly assonanical (I believe that's the term) which rely heavily on vowel sounds. Most European languages and Arabic are more driven by consonant sounds. Things like tone and pitch, which are incidental in consonantal languages, are critical to meaning in assonanical languages. Hence the mutual level of difficulty in speaking and pronunciation between them (I guess most Europeans sounds really daft trying to speak Cantonese also).
I think with Mandarin it is more the sheer number of characters - thousands of them , although it does have four tones that are very important .
My own area of knowledge is Thai which has five tones , it also has 32 vowels with an individual character for each which is a bit more than English which uses a combination of 5 vowels for about 20 vowel sounds . The other disturbing thing for the foreigner learning the language is when you may start reading a word in the middle , go forwards , go backwards etc and the vowels may be above , below , in front of , or behind the consonant .

I don't know about speaking Chinese but check out this guy speaking Thai . He's quite famous in Thailand and he's on TV a lot . He was one of the first people ever to do a degree in Thai Language studies at Ramkhamheang University . He's Australian and there is a slight accent but no one says he sounds daft !!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV4mhbypNws
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