Dr. Shukri Abed visited a combined meeting of Arabic language classes to talk about his philosophy of teaching Arabic. The visit was a follow-up requested by the students after having Skyped with Dr. Abed about his publications.
In his presentation, Dr. Abed discussed three issues that, while they arise in the teaching of many languages, are particularly challenging in the case of Arabic. For instance, every teacher of Arabic knows that diglossia (or the existence of different levels of language) poses a major difficulty in terms of teaching the language. Some measure of diglossia exists for most languages (slang and ethnic or regional dialects in opposition to "polite" or "refined" speech). However, in languages such as Arabic and Chinese, the distinctions between the levels are very great, and the dialects differ significantly. The question then arises for Arabic, does one teach the formal language (in Arabic referred to as fusha), the language of the Qur’an and classical Arabic? Or does one teach the less formal language (in Arabic referred to referred to as cammiyya) used in the home, the market, and daily communication? Dr. Abed ended with a brief discussion of the three-volume series he has developed for Yale University Press and how it addresses these challenges.
Shukri Abed, Visiting Associate Professor of Arabic, holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, and a B.A from Tel Aviv University. He founded and directs UMW’s Arabic in Amman (Jordan) summer study program.
Recent positions include chairman of the Language and Regional Studies Department at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., and senior research fellow at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) at the University of Maryland.
An intellectual historian of Islam, Dr. Abed has taught courses on Islamic Civilization, War and Peace in Islam, Nationalism and Nation-building in the Middle East, Minorities in the Middle East, and all levels of the Arabic Language.