Dialect Variations and the Teaching of Arabic as a Living Language*


  • Sami A. Hanna,

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      SAMI A. HANNA (Ph.D., Univ. of Utah) is Director of the North African Program at Utah. He is a past Executive Secretary of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic. Among his publications are Arab Socialism and Introducing Literary Arabic (co-author, Naguib Greis). He is a member of AATA, the Linguistic Society of America, the American Folklore Society, and ACTFL

  • Naguib Greis

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      NAGUIB GREIS (Ph.D., Univ. of Minnesota) is Director of the English as a Second Language Program at Portland State Univ. Previously he taught at Teachers College in Cairo and at Minnesota. He is the co-author (with Sami A. Hanna) of Writing Arabic, Beginning Arabic, and Introducing Literary Arabic. He is a member of AATA, TESOL, the Linguistic Society of America, MLA, and ACTFL.

  • *

    This paper was presented on 29 Nov. 1969 at the Third Annual Meeting of ACTFL in New Orleans.


ABSTRACT  In teaching Arabic the cultivated speech of a significant cultural center can provide continuity and a relatively smooth transition from the familiar to the formal. It thus helps us avoid the present dichotomy of “colloquial” and “classical.” Furthermore, cultivated speech is the appropriate form for beginning a living language. It is easier and more appealing than any other Arabic variety. While syntactically it is characterized by nearly the same basic features as formal literary Arabic, morphologically it retains fewer distinctions. If the content is carefully selected, the controlled vocabulary and patterns will provide a common core throughout the learning stages. Careful consideration must be given to gradation and significant cultural context. Only then can the use of audiolingual/visual techniques be effective. Once the learner has mastered the cultivated spoken Arabic he can proceed to writing and literary varieties.