A Journey of Empowerment: Reflections on the QFI-Organized Symposium on Arabic Language Learning in Europe

Apr 29, 2024

By Dr. Kurstin Gatt

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the symposium on the teaching and learning of Arabic, organized by QFI in Brussels. This enlightening event left me inspired, empowered, and filled with a renewed appreciation for the beauty of the Arabic language and its significance in today’s globalized world. It was an immersive experience that truly transformed my perspective and solidified my commitment to promoting Arabic education. I would like to share three exciting concepts that sparked my interest during the symposium:

  1. Arabic as a Linguistic Continuum: This term came up during our discussions about the teaching and learning of the standard (fusha) and dialectal forms (ammiyya) of Arabic. Experts agreed that Arabic exists on a spectrum, ranging from the highly standardized and formal MSA to the more colloquial and regionally influenced dialects. This linguistic diversity adds richness and depth to the Arabic language, reflecting the cultural nuances and local flavors within the Arab world.
  2. Creating Communities of Practice: Participants agreed that more communities of practice are needed on a national, and perhaps even on a European level, to increase the unity among and visibility of Arabic teachers. Creating communities of practice for Arabic teachers is important in fostering professional growth and collaboration and ultimately enhancing the quality of Arabic language instruction. Arabic teachers need a supportive space to exchange ideas, discuss best practices, improve their pedagogical skills, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and research in language education. This continuous learning process contributes to the improvement of teaching methodologies and student outcomes.
  3. Adding an ‘S’ to Culture and Religion: A significant takeaway from the conference was the importance of embracing cultural diversity. A leading expert in Arabic pedagogy suggested adding an ‘s’ when we talk about culture and religion in the Arab world to reflect the reality that Arabic is not exclusively linked to one culture or religion. The teaching of Arabic is intricately woven into the diverse fabric of the Arab world, comprising various countries, traditions, and customs. Incorporating cultural diversity in Arabic instruction fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of this linguistic continuum. Embracing cultural diversity in the teaching of Arabic promotes inclusivity, intercultural competence, and a profound connection with the language and its vibrant heritage.

Attending the symposium on the teaching and learning of Arabic organized by QFI in Brussels was an enriching experience that provided me with a platform to connect with a diverse network of international experts. This network has equipped me with valuable insights and resources that I can draw upon to bring about positive changes in the teaching of Arabic locally. I look forward to applying these insights and connections in my ongoing commitment to fostering a love for the Arabic language and its cultures in the Maltese context.

Sympoisum Report

Read the Full Report
Dr. Kurstin Gatt

Dr. Kurstin Gatt is a resident academic within the Department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malta. In 2019, he completed his doctoral dissertation in Arabic studies at the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany. Currently, the scholar coordinates the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of Arabic studies and teaches modern standard Arabic, Arabic dialects, and Arabic literature. For the past years, Dr. Gatt has been involved in several local examination boards. His research interests include Arabic as a Foreign Language, Discourse Analysis, and Arabic-Maltese linguistic links.