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Learning in Arabic

Arabic language learning

Arabic is spoken by approximately 280 million people in 22 countries over several continents. It is the official language of the Arab world, which includes countries of the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region, and is one of the official languages of the United Nations. The Arabic-speaking world has a long history, and the Arabic language has evolved and flourished over time, as evidenced by the richness of its literature. Arabic comprises a number of dialects that reflect the cultural diversity of Arabic-speaking countries, regions and communities.

Arabic is a Semitic language, and shares linguistic and phonological similarities with other Semitic languages such as Syriac, Aramaic and Hebrew. Classical Arabic and its successor, Modern Standard Arabic, have been and continue to be the language of religious texts as well as the basis for a rich heritage of classical poetry and literary prose. Today, speakers of Arabic come from a variety of social, cultural and religious backgrounds. Their views, cultures and beliefs are manifested in the language they use formally and informally in every aspect of their private lives and public affairs. Language is an inseparable part of their identity and the way they view themselves and the world around them.

The Arabic language has two forms: Modern Standard Arabic ( اللغة العربية الفصحى ) and colloquial Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic is the official language taught worldwide and used in formal situations, such as at school and university and in mosques, churches and official media. Colloquial Arabic is used in everyday situations, such as at home and in the marketplace, the street, restaurants, cafés, and popular and social media. Modern Standard Arabic is common to all countries of the Arabic-speaking world, while colloquial Arabic varies according to geographical location. For example, two individuals from Iraq and Morocco speaking in dialects would not easily understand each other unless they injected elements of Modern Standard Arabic into the conversation.

Arabic is a scripted language and is written from right to left. There are 28 letters, which are all consonants with short and long vowels. These vowels are represented in the forms of letters and marks called diacritic symbols which identify how words and letters are pronounced. Arabic is a highly inflectional language, with words formed according to a root system. Various vowels, prefixes and suffixes are used with root letters to create the desired inflection of meaning.

The diversity of learners of Arabic

Understanding the diverse language competencies of students, as language learners is the starting point for developing their language learning. The changing pattern of migration to Australia is extending the range of languages students bring with them to school. 

The language competency of students varies significantly depending upon the sequence of learning being undertaken and the level the student has reached.

Intercultural understanding

In the Languages curriculum area the focus is on both language and culture, as students learn to communicate meaningfully across linguistic and cultural systems, and different contexts. This process involves reflection and analysis, as students move between Arabic, English and/or their own existing language(s). It is a reciprocal and dynamic process which develops language use and intercultural awareness and understanding.

Texts and resources

Students use a wide range of texts such as textbooks, teacher-generated materials and online resources. Their learning is enriched by exposure to a range of authentic Arabic texts, such as websites, films, stories, songs, television programs, advertisements and magazines. The texts and resources will become increasingly sophisticated and varied as students progress through their schooling.

Use of Arabic and English

Students are encouraged to use Arabic as much as possible for classroom routines, social interactions, structured learning tasks, and language experimentation and practice.

Students will have opportunities to engage with members of the community who speak Arabic, which in some cases will be facilitated via digital technologies.

English is used for discussion, explanation and reflection, enabling students to develop a language for sharing ideas about language and culture.

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