When do we start teaching our language as skills?

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Written by: Masoud Amshush:

One of the most important characteristics that distinguish humans from other creatures is language. Through language, man communicates with men, and through it he thinks and expresses his emotions and feelings. Thanks to language, the knowledge, heritage and beliefs of previous nations have reached us.

Language is essentially sounds that we listen to and pronounce using the tongue and other sound sources. Over time, people were able to document language sounds, first through written symbols that enabled them to communicate with those distant from them, spatially or temporally, and return to their previous language uses. Back then, about a century and a half ago, people could document what they said orally with various recording devices. There are many languages ​​that still do not know the method of written documentation or coding.

It is known that linguistics has seen a great development since the beginning of the last century, and linguists began to distinguish between (language) as a general system with its own systems and rules found in grammar, morphology, and dictionary books, and speech (or text) as specific or individual formation, employment or use of language in a particular communicative context.

There is a huge difference between teaching the language system, ie language system, with its various components (grammar, morphology, lexicon…), and teaching language communication, ie the four language communication skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. . It is known that we acquire the skills of listening and speaking automatically. The first from the day we were born and the second from our second year, through simulation and practice. But the skills of reading and writing are only acquired by a coach or teacher.

In the curricula of all countries, teaching of the mother (national) language receives special attention. Her education usually continues even at the university and higher levels. Language curricula witnessed a major explosion during the second half of the last century. Language teaching curricula now focus on providing the student with language skills in different contexts, spoken and written, and the focus of language teaching has moved from being based on technical texts to being based on texts related to everyday and professional life.

We can say that the curricula for teaching the Arabic language unfortunately did not quickly follow these developments, which were adopted in the schools and universities of most developed countries, and we still do not know many modern methods in the teaching of languages. . Many of our schools and universities still focus on teaching the language as a general system (grammar and morphology), relying only on texts from Arabic literature. While language education today focuses on teaching language as skills.

I believe that one of the most important reasons for the low level of written and spoken expression among most of our students, teachers and staff lies in the failure to benefit from the experiences of others in teaching their languages, especially linguists , and also in our failure to teach our Arabic language with modern methods that focus on the manifestations of the language in spoken or communicative processes. Writing as skills: listening, speaking, reading and all kinds of writing skills.

Teaching language as communication skills in various living and functional contexts does not mean requiring neglecting knowledge of language rules and laws, but it is extremely dangerous to limit language teaching to the repetition of teaching general laws, and to neglect their manifestations in speech and writing, that is in use of the various skills correctly, through intensification. The role of exercises and applied exercises. Acquiring the skill only comes through practice, training and practice, and the teacher/trainer (even if he has a professorship) alerts the trainee to the aspects of error and error in his performance of the four language skills.

If there are those who today insist on limiting the teaching of the Arabic language to the teaching of grammar and morphology, it is clear that the authors of the Arabic language curricula in primary and secondary schools began – about ten years ago – to include in Arabic language books. the basics of functional writing, the resume, the CV, executive letters, and the report.

Proficiency in the language does not mean only knowledge of its rules and morphology, but rather it means above all acquiring and mastering its four skills. In my opinion, it is not appropriate to rely on experts in grammar and morphology, who are good at spotting grammatical and spelling mistakes, and who cannot write an article, summary or report, to train language knowledge. Likewise, it is not appropriate for the Arabic language teacher to treat his students as a lecturer, rather he should consider himself a trainer and mentor first.

We must also stop limiting the teaching of our Arabic language to training in writing skills. In fact, starting from teaching the listening skill gives excellent results in training students to write summaries, transcribe lectures and minutes, and accustom them to mental concentration. I call on the heads of the Arabic language departments in our universities to speed up the addition of oral exams, which have been followed for many decades in prestigious Arab and international universities, in their various programs. It is unreasonable to test the student in writing to determine his level of diction or intonation. It is unreasonable for the subject of phonetics to remain absent from language course syllabuses.

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