Academic journal article International Education Studies

The Teaching Methodology of Arabic Speaking Skills: Learners' Perspectives

Academic journal article International Education Studies

The Teaching Methodology of Arabic Speaking Skills: Learners' Perspectives

Article excerpt

Abstract

Teaching methodology plays an important role in transmitting knowledge and skills to learners. The effectiveness of both knowledge and skills depends greatly on the methodology used. This paper describes a study to investigate the learners' perspectives on the teaching methodology used by the teachers at the Centre for Foundation Studies, International Islamic University Malaysia, to teach Arabic speaking skills. The data were collected using a focus group interview with 6 Arabic language learners at the centre. The findings show that the learners were dissatisfied with the teaching methodology as it emphasizes memorization. Instead they prefer a communicative approach where they can apply orally what they have learned, be corrected and improve.

Keywords: speaking skill, Arabic language, second language acquisition, teaching methodology, language learning

1. Introduction

Studies have shown that Malay learners of Arabic, in general, exhibit weak Arabic speaking skills despite spending years of learning the language (Tarmizi, 1997; Ismail, 1999; Anida, 2003; Amilrudin, 2003; Khalid, 2004; Mohd. Zaidi, 2005; Zawawi, Mohd. Sukki, Alif Redzuan and Sanimah, 2005; Siti Ikbal, 2006; Mat Taib, 2006). These studies also revealed that methodologies like reading, translation, and memorization remain popular in the teaching and learning of the Arabic language in schools and higher learning institutions. Mat Taib (2006) asserts that despite better facilities and materials, improved curriculum, more qualified and trained teachers, especially in the government schools, the problem worsens. The teaching and learning of the Arabic language in Malaysia focus inordinately on the communicative and religious aspects (Zawawi et al., 2005). According to Lazim (2000) the communicative domain is clearly evident in the objectives of the Arabic language curriculum. However, this is not transparent in practice, as observed by some scholars. Tarmizi (1997), for example, discovered that there was little pedagogical difference in strategies of teaching the Arabic language, on the one hand, and Communicative Arabic Language, on the other, in three government religious secondary schools (SMKA) located in Selangor. Traditional methodologies such as memorization, reading and grammar-translation, were also conflated with the teaching of Communicative Arabic Language, as observed by Anida (2003) and Khalid (2004). Later studies have tried to explain this curious incongruity. One such attempt is by Siti Ikbal (2006) who claimed that all subjects in Arabic, including the Communicative Arabic Language, were not designed to serve communicative purposes. The focus has always been to understand Arabic grammar and comprehension. Students were only exposed indirectly to Arabic speaking during other lessons like Insya' (Essay writing) and Mutòolacah (comprehension). On top of that, speaking skill was not assessed orally in the exam, even though it was included in the Lower Secondary Assessment (PMR). Furthermore, the time allocated for teaching Communicative Arabic language was limited (Siti Ikbal, 2006; Anida, 2003; Khalid, 2004). It is a commonly held belief among teachers that using the communicative approach will impede the teaching pace and delay the completion of the syllabus (Siti Ikbal, 2006). Understandably, it is almost impossible to vary the teaching methodologies, given the time constraint (Anida, 2003; Khalid, 2004). To compound the issue, during the Communicative Arabic Language lesson, the Malay Language was predominantly used (Siti Ikbal, 2006; Mustafa, 2004). Both researchers suggest that such practice was due to the teachers' poor command of Arabic speaking skill. It is no surprise, then, given all these factors, that teachers will obviously face difficulties in trying to teach the Arabic Language or Communicative Arabic Language lessons communicatively. Admittedly, some teachers did spend efforts to make the lessons more interactive and encourage students' participation. …

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