Select a language

May 8, 2014

Thank you for raising the old/new debate on the language of instruction in Arab universities (“Allow us to learn in our own language, Algerian says”, News, 17 April).

The article essentially points to the limited success of the national translation policies in the Arab world. It has been pointed out that translation policymakers are representing the elite of society and not serving the best interests of “the man in the street” as Inam Bioud so correctly puts it.

Over the years, most Arab universities moved towards English and French as the de facto language of instruction, except in Syria. However, professional results do not show any direct benefits from the current modus operandi. Syrian-educated doctors, for example, are among the most successful in Australia and the US.

As the Arab world is characterised by a youthful population that is fast espousing digital technology there seems to be another revolution in the air; an educational one. There is no denying that translation will always play a decisive role and this points to “audiovisual translation studies”, which is yet to take root in Arabic. For many years, televisions in Arab cities have been subtitling foreign language programmes in Arabic but without considering screen translation as a discipline to be examined in its own right. Now there are screens everywhere: in the street, the car, school, work and at home. There is an opportunity to rectify the situation in Algeria and the Gulf states by espousing audiovisual translation, which can easily replace the not-too-successful translation programmes and campaigns.

There is no doubt that teaching Arabic at primary and secondary schools needs a facelift. However, the solution must be well orchestrated and must be multimodal at the audio and visual levels.

It needs to win the hearts and minds of 60 per cent of the population (the youth who are under 25). It must be remembered that Arabic content online is still very modest at 1 per cent of the total content. Academic institutions, and particularly translation departments, need to shift to digital technology and to content creation, which is essentially more efficient to organise, more economical to do and easier to access.

Muhammad Y Gamal
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

man with frozen beard, Lake Louise, Canada

Australia also makes gains in list of most attractive English-speaking nations as US slips