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Conference Information

Full Title: International Conference on Didactics of Arabic: Assessment and Horizons

Location: Montreal/Quebec, Canada
Start Date: 30-Oct-2014 - 31-Oct-2014
Contact: Nejmeddine Khalfallah
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: International Conference on Didactics of Arabic: Assessment and Horizons

In the West, a number of universities have adopted the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for teaching Arabic. This novel approach is rooted in a linguistic tradition that advocates experimenting with didactic methods in the study of languages in Europe. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), the language taught in these universities, has gone through major transformations in media, literary and diplomatic production. Today's Arabic represents a decisive break with the odes that Blachère and his eminent colleagues Berque and Pellat used to vocalize in the lecture halls of la Sorbonne.

This change, witnessed both in written and oral works, and the very nature of the Arabic language (diglossia) justify questioning the modalities, advantages and limits of applying the CEFR to modern Arabic knowing that dialects dominate speech in real-life situations. This coexistence of diglossia and the CEFR is therefore what renders our approach relevant, particularly given the recent rise of manuals and textbooks pertaining to the CEFR framework.

Our conference adopts a pragmatic approach: First, it aims to examine the difficulties that teachers and students face when teaching and learning modern Arabic. Second, it attempts to offer solutions by adapting the CEFR to Arabic. These insights will be made available to English-speaking and French-speaking teachers working in Europe, the United States and Canada.

This conference also seeks to make an assessment of the didactic approaches to modern Arabic, which are the result of an unprecedented neological momentum that has led to questioning theories about semantic fields, paradigms, lexiculture and any other question pertaining to the teaching of vocabulary (mufradāt). A pedagogical layer will complete the former descriptive one, to explore the 'best' approach to tackle neological processes and the vast panoply of neologisms.

Grammar, often vilified and sidelined (and this is particularly the case for Arabic grammar), faces a hard time positioning itself not only in the CEFR but also in the didactic process. While our grammar (qawā'id) is today associated with communication vices, it is nonetheless worth examining its role in learning, away from American pragmatism and French intellectualism.

The conference will also strive to question the links between cognition and the didactics of modern Arabic: performative acts, the choice of vocabulary as well as syntaxic and stylistic constructions are indeed inextricably linked to cognitive processes - both in production and perception. Finally, the thorny question of sociocultural competence deserves to be rethought. Indeed, it is what allows systems of thought and society to give their input to the conception of pedagogical content.
Linguistic Subfield: Applied Linguistics; General Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Pragmatics
Subject Language: Arabic, Standard
LL Issue: 25.2841

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