Manama: Shaikha Moza Bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), has lamented the inability of the Arabs to preserve their language by misusing modern communication technology.
“Our failure to effectively use modern communication techniques has led to an inability to preserve the Arabic language,” Shaikha Moza said during her address at the second Renaissance of Arabic Language Forum.
“It is unfortunate that a few decades ago, the Arabic language was more prevalent in children than it is today."
The two-day event, entitled ‘Linguistic Upbringing of The Arab Child - The Reality and Prospects for the Future’, is hosted by the World Organisation for Renaissance of Arabic Language (WORAL), a member of QF. The initiative promotes the teaching and learning of Arabic.
Shaikha Moza highlighted challenges facing the Arabic language, saying that some of them could be attributed to families, weak school curriculums, television programmes and globalisation.
She said: “If we want to save our identity we have no choice but to advance ourselves and enhance the Arabic Language in order to adjust with the contemporary era.”
Lack of interest by families in Arabic, weak curriculum and poor teaching methodology have compounded the situation worse, she said.
“Children are reluctant to read children’s literature because of the craze for electronic games and modern entertainment, which we have failed to produce locally and introduce in Arabic language,” Shaikha Moza said.
The Arab world is facing a cultural divide between standard Arabic and colloquial dialects and speaking in standard Arabic by Arab natives has become like speaking in a foreign language.
Proposing several solutions, she called for the unification of intellectual scholars, legislatures, cultural figures and the media to protect the Arabic language, explaining the need for it to be simplified in schools systems and encouraging television programmes to adopt formal Arabic.
“Intellectuals now speak to the media in their dialects and such a dilemma calls for research and serious work to simplify the Arabic language curriculum and force television programmes to use standard Arabic,” she said.
If the retreat of children from Arabic continues, the language will become a stranger, she said adding that nations protect their identity through their language.
“If we diagnose the problem more accurately, then the treatment will not be difficult,” she said, stressing the need for boosting willingness among elites and the public at legislative, educational, cultural and media levels to protect the Arabic language.
Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Subaie, Chairman of the WORAL Board of Trustees, stressed in his remarks the importance of the linguistic upbringing of children.
“The role of language when nurturing the Arab child is crucial in building identity and maintaining culture in order to master the fields of science and knowledge,” he said.
“This will support the outcome for the continuous contribution of different generations in advancing civilisation.”
Exploring development strategies, the first day of the forum featured a variety of lectures and workshops. The panels included The Development of Arabic Language Skills for Children and The Effects of Children’s Exposure to Current Arabic Media Content.
WORAL was established in 2013 to enhance the Arabic language through creative and proactive initiatives that address language and research culture.