Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The "danger of bilinguism"??

All my life I have been a strong proponent of teaching and learning a second language - or more.

So I was suitably miffed reading this about UAE's experiment with teaching English in primary schools:

"The MAG programme was introduced into 50 schools in the UAE in autumn 2007 by the ministries of Education and of Higher Education and Scientific Research as a pilot programme. One of the main goals is to create bilingual graduates by teaching maths and science in English, as well as the English language.

One of the objectives of the MAG programme is to change from rote-based teaching to student-centred learning, and to produce graduates proficient in both Arabic and English."

Beauty, nu? But then the reaction:

".. school principals have warned that using English to teach maths and science is threatening to undermine pupils’ Arabic skills. One said the Arabic vocabulary of younger children is so poor, some cannot name their body parts, because they are learning the English words for them instead in their science classes."

I learned my body parts at home from my mum, dad and grandma. The MAG program must me aimed at orphans!

And while the principals complain about English being taught, "many UAE students are spending five to six years at university, because they are forced to take remedial courses in English before they can enter federal universities where the primary language of instruction is English."

So why the complaints? Look for the magic word in the Arab-speaking countries (I am not telling you which, you decide for yourself):

"Our kids should be taught English as a language, not have it be used as the language of instruction for all students at the expense of Arabic,” said the principal at the Dubai Modern Education School. “Arabic language should be the priority; it is the mother tongue, the language of our culture, and the language of our religion.”

Here is some more scare-mongering.

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