Universiteit Leiden

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Performing High Proficiency tasks with Low-proficiency Language A Course-Design Challenge

Monday 3 September 2018
Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
1.22 (LLRC room)

As a category IV language on the FSI scale, Arabic students typically need more time, effort, and instruction to reach the same proficiency level as those studying other (e.g. European) languages.  This makes teaching Arabic higher education especially challenging.  Although students have limited access to instructional hours, language learning in academia comes with the expectation that the language will be usable in other components of a student’s academic program (unlike non-academic contexts where conversational proficiency may be sufficient).  Most academic tasks are at CEFR B2/C1 level, which is not typically reachable in a 3 - 4 Arabic college course sequence.

This presentation outlines the design of a Language in Practice course that keeps in mind the discrepancy between the language proficiency that the students realistically achieve in three semesters on the one hand, and the linguistic demands posed by academic tasks on the other hand.  This course is aimed at graduating BA International Studies Students who complete 3 courses (25 ECs) of Arabic and reach CEFR level A2+/B1-.  In this course, students learn how to utilize authentic Arabic texts in their BA thesis.  The presentation describes a project-based approach where students GRASP (Get, Read, Analyze, Summarize, Paraphrase) Arabic texts and utilize them as an ingredient of a quality research paper written in English.

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