A Syllabus Proposal for Language Proficiency in Preparation Programs of Researchers and Experts in Teaching Arabic to Speakers of Other LanguagesIslam Youssry Elhadky
The purpose of this paper is to present a syllabus of the Language Proficiency course in terms of objectives, teaching plan, activities, and suggested references. This paper responds to the growing interest in proficiency frameworks. As a result of the proficiency literature revision, the research determined that there are three main dimensions to consider. The first is the terminology of the field that has been tainted by ambiguity and confusion over the past 70 years. The second dimension of this topic is that existing proficiency models reflect their individual authors’ concepts regarding what humans need to understand and communicate in language, too closely. The third dimension is the framework that emerged in response to the need of foreign and second language stakeholders for standard scales to measure individuals’ language proficiency. Those frameworks have become numerous over the past seven decades, and each was developed to work best in a specific context. There are also calls to develop a scale for Arabic that befits the language and those who speak it. This paper has attempted to contribute to deepening the understanding of the issue of proficiency and its models and frameworks among those interested, by proposing a detailed conceptualization of a course to be taught in graduate programs concerned with qualifying researchers and experts in our field of teaching Arabic.
Arap Olmayanlara Arapça Öğretimine Yönelik Araştırmacı ve Uzman Yetiştirmede Dil Yeterliliği Dersine Yönelik Bir Müfredat ÖnerisiIslam Youssry Elhadky
Bu makale hedefleri, öğretim planı ve etkinlikleri ile önerilen kaynaklar açısından, “Dil Yeterliliği” dersinin müfredatına dair bir çerçeve sunmayı hedeflemektedir. Bu çalışma alana dair çok sayıda konferans, kurs ve makalenin varlığıyla da görünür hale gelen, dil yeterlilik standartları konusuna artan ilgiye; birçok araştırmacının araştırmalarını bu standartlar ışığında geliştirme noktasında gösterdikleri özene; yazarların eğitim yöntemlerini ve materyallerini seviyelere uygun bir şekilde düzenleme isteklerine bir cevap niteliğindedir. Dil yeterliliği konusunda var olan literatürün kapsamlı ve dakik bir şekilde incelenmesi neticesinde bu konunun üç boyutu olduğu görülmüştür. Bahsi geçen bu boyutlardan ilki, son yetmiş yıl boyunca belirsizlik ve kapalılık ile karmaşanın hakim olduğu alan terminolojisi ile ilgilidir. Zira bu zaman diliminde tek bir terim, konuşan kişiye ve dönemine göre birden fazla anlam ifade edebilmekteydi. Aynı zamanda bir kavram için birden fazla terim de bulunabilmekteydi. Ele aldığımız konunun ikinci boyutu, bireyin bir dili anlaması ve kullanması için ihtiyaç duyduğu gereksinimlere yönelik olarak o dili konuşanların tasavvurunu ifade edip ortaya koyan dil modelleri ve örneklemeleridir. Konunun üçüncü ve son boyutunu ise dil yeterliliğinin kaynak çerçeveleri oluşturmaktadır. Bu çerçeveler, dillerle ilgilenen bireylerin dil yeterliliğini ölçmek için standart ölçeklere olan ihtiyaçlarına yanıt olarak ortaya çıkmış ve son yetmiş yılda çoğalmıştır. Bahse konu olan bu çerçevelerden her biri, belirli bir bağlamda kullanılmak üzere ortaya konulmuştur. Günümüzde Arapçaya ve bu dili konuşan insanlara uygun bir kaynak çerçeve geliştirme çağrıları yapılmaktadır. Araştırmacılar da fiili olarak bu alandaki araştırma deneyimlerini sunmaya başlamışlardır. Bu çalışma, alanla ilgili kimseler arasında dil yeterliliği meselesinin, örneklerinin ve çerçevelerinin derinlikli bir şekilde anlaşılmasına katkıda bulunmayı hedeflemektedir. Bu amaçla “Arap olmayanlara Arapça öğretimi” alanındaki araştırmacı ve uzmanların eğitilmesi ve uzmanlaştırılması ile ilgilenen yükseköğrenim programlarında okutulmakta olan bir ders müfredatına dair detaylı bir kavramsallaştırma önerisi yapılmaya çalışılacaktır.
The purpose of this paper is to present a syllabus of the ”Language Proficiency” course in terms of objectives, teaching plan, activities, and suggested references. This paper responds to the growing interest in the proficiency frameworks, which appears in many lectures, courses, and articles on the subject. This paper also addresses the interest of many researchers in developing their work in the light of those frameworks and the authors’ desire to align their materials with the frameworks’ levels. In particular, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) language proficiency guidelines. However, all this interest reflects a relatively superficial knowledge of the subject without going in depth.
After an accurate and extensive literature review in the language proficiency domain, the research for this paper found that graduate programs lack any course that studies, explains, and criticizes the language proficiency domain except some training courses that cover it briefly in a few hours of study. Clearly, this is not adequate to build a robust grounding in this domain for research.
The literature review in the language proficiency domain also found that there are three main dimensions to consider. The first is the terminology of the field that has been tainted by ambiguity and confusion over the past 70 years. This has created a situation where any given term may have more than one meaning according to the writer and their time. In addition, at the same time, a single concept may be described by more than one term. This difficulty applies to terms such as “proficiency,” “competence,” and “strategy.”
The second dimension of this topic is that many of the existing proficiency models reflect their authors’ concepts regarding what humans need to understand and communicate language. There are several theories and models titled “communicative competence” and “communicative language ability” that share some components but differ in others, like sharing the same concept but differing in its names, or agreeing in the names but differing in the content. This essentially renders the descriptive terms meaningless.
The third dimension consists of those frameworks that emerged in response to the need of people working in the foreign and second language field for standard scales to measure a given individual’s language proficiency. Those frameworks have been numerous over the past seven decades, and each of them came to work in a specific context. Some are prepared for the governmental context, while others are more suitable for the military. Additional scales work for the rehabilitation of immigrants, for academics and the workplace while still others work best for education. There are also calls to develop a scale for Arabic that suits the language and its speakers, and indeed, researchers have begun to present proposals in this field.
The main research question is what is the full description of the language proficiency subject? To answer this question, the researcher undertook the following: (1) reviewing the foundational studies for the subject of language proficiency to establish the width and depth of the field; (2) assessing the methodology in which the various sources of language proficiency are presented and the dimensions of the subject in various resources; (3). proposing a vision for the language proficiency subject plan, distributed over a specific time frame; (4) presenting the vision to a group of referees, experts in teaching Arabic to speakers of other languages; and (5) producing the final vision of the language proficiency subject in the light of referees’ notes.
Course Prerequisites: Foundations of Teaching Arabic as a Second Language
The number of credits: Three credit hours
The final proposal of the subject consists of several components, the most important of which are:
First–Summary of the course: The course introduces common terms in the field of language proficiency and introduces several famous models of language proficiency that have influenced the educational literature. The course will also review several of the most famous international frameworks for language proficiency. It also attempts to develop an Arabic proficiency framework and train students to analyze and criticize the existing models and frameworks. Further, it also suggests short tests in light of those models and frameworks and linking them with common teaching methods. Also, the course would seek to analyze some textbooks for teaching Arabic in light of the language proficiency concept and present their views of new scales of proficiency.
Second–The primary aim of the language proficiency subject is that the student should be able to analyze, criticize, and apply language proficiency models, scales, and descriptors to some elements of the language teaching process, including content, teaching methods, and evaluation. It is linked to 18 learning outcomes.
Third –The program proposes the following topics of the subject: (1) motives for interest in the subject of language proficiency; (2) terminology of language competence, (3) language proficiency models: skills and elements models, Hymes theory, Canal and Swain’s models of Communicative Competence 1980, and Canale updates 1983, Beckman’s Communicative language ability models 1990 and their updates with Palmer 1996, 2010, Celce-Murcia et al. model 1995, Canadian Language Benchmarks model 2000, and Common European Framework of Reference for Languages model; (4) Language Proficiency Frameworks: Concept of the Language Proficiency Framework, FSI/ILR Roundtable scale, ACTFL Proficiency Languages Guidelines, The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and previous attempts to develop a common Arabic Framework.
Fourth–The teaching plan: The course is divided into 15 weeks. The first week is “An Introduction to Language Proficiency,” which includes an introduction to the subject, the motives for paying attention to the subject of proficiency, and the essential terminology of the field. From the 2nd to the 7th week: Present, analyze, criticize, and compare the famous and influential language proficiency models in the field. From the 9th to the 13th week: Present the most famous frameworks in terms of their origin, their theoretical foundations, work contexts and levels, and consider the criticism and comparison between them. The 14th week is devoted to presenting students’ projects. Teaching methods would be lectures, group discussions, assignments, presentations, brainstorming, and self-learning. The evaluation should vary between assignments and their discussion, project/reviews, and tests.
The proposal also included suggestions for assignments and projects that the students would be expected to perform. Assignments combine individual and group tasks, as well as projects. Project evaluation criteria will consist of: Clarity of purpose: 10%, quality of content: 40%, quality of language and academic quality: 10%, quality of presentation design: 20%, quality of presentation in front of students: 20%. The proposal includes dozens of Arabic and English references that are essential to understanding the field of language proficiency.