Antonio Giménez Fri 7 Jul 2017 10:38AM

Welcome to this thread.


Rasha Soliman Mon 10 Jul 2017 1:14PM

Dear Antonio, thank you for creating this. Would you like me to invite others to this discussion group?


Antonio Giménez Mon 10 Jul 2017 5:27PM

Yes, please. You can invite whoever you want. My university supports an open academic environment, OAE, which I think it's still a rather limited tool but we can try it as well:



wahran Thu 13 Jul 2017 8:17AM

Dear Rasha
شكرا جزيلا for your email and invitation to join this discussion group, and Muchas Gracias, dear Antonio for providing this online space that will facilitate what I am sure is going to be a thriving discussion on CEFR for Arabic teaching. Saadia


Antonio Giménez Thu 13 Jul 2017 2:25PM

Hi, Saadia and all of our new members. I will start by introducing myself: my name is Antonio Giménez and I've been a lecturer in Arabic at the University of Murcia (southeastern Spain) since 2006. As every other language teacher working for a public institution in my country, I'm supposed (and try as hard as I can) to adhere to CEFR.

This discussion group originates in a somewhat wicked tweet I posted after reading Rasha Soliman's forthcoming contribution to the Handbook for Arabic Language Teaching Professionals in the 21st Century, Volume II.


Rasha Soliman Tue 18 Jul 2017 9:19PM

Thank you all for joining. I think Antonio's idea of introducing ourselves is great. I'll start: My name is Rasha Soliman and I am a Lecturer of Arabic Language at the University of Leeds.


Rasha Soliman Tue 18 Jul 2017 9:25PM

So let's start.... Again it was Antonio who instigated a question about the application of CEFR to the teaching of Arabic. The question as I recall:

If we are to use the framework, do we make the content we teach conform to the content/skills suggested by the CEFR for each of the six levels or do we amend the CEFR itself to accommodate the specifications of the Arabic language?


Antonio Giménez Wed 19 Jul 2017 12:56PM

"The Common European Framework", reads the CEFR itself, "provides a common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks, etc." (p. 1).

The thing is: have we already tried to elaborate those language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines for Arabic? If yes, has the CEFR proved to be inadequate? And if yes again, why exactly?

My answer to the first question is yes and to the second one is no, which is why I would like to know where this alleged inadequacy exactly lies.


Rasha Soliman Thu 20 Jul 2017 7:37PM

Thanks Antonio! The way I see the CEFR is that it's a set of principles more than a syllabus or a list of learning outcomes. In the introduction of the CEFR document (the notes for the user section), it emphasizes that a CEFR scale can be compiled to suit different needs/languages/settings as long as it fulfills the CEFR principles of transparency, comprehensiveness and coherence. In the same section p.5 it says:

"Given these fundamental aims, the Council encourages all those concerned with the organisation of language learning to base their work on the needs, motivations, characteristics and resources of learners. This means answering questions such as:
• What will l earners need to do with the language?
• What do they need to learn in order to be able to use the language to achieve those ends?
• What makes them want to learn?
• What sort of people are they (age, sex, social and educational background, etc.)
• What knowledge, skills and experiences do their teachers possess?
• What access do they have to course books, works of reference (dictionaries, grammars, etc.),
audio-visual aids, computer hard - and software, etc.?
• How much time can they afford (or are willing, or able) to spend?"

The document later on in chapter 3 presents the detailed scale that was developed by the Swiss National Science Research Council project for the teaching of European languages as a rigorous example of how the CEFR's principles can be applied. This is the scale that has been widely and successfully applied to the teaching of European languages and indeed it is a very useful and detailed set of descriptors that ought to be referred to when teaching non-European languages too.

So to sum up, what I want to say here is that the detailed scale that was developed by the Swiss National Science Research Council and which is usually the one that is referred to as the CEFR scale is extremely useful to apply to the teaching of Arabic but at the same time, in order to fulfill the CEFR principles, it's crucial to consider the linguistic and the sociolinguistic aspects of Arabic which differ from European languages and to try and integrate these differences into a CEFR proficiency scale that meets the learning needs and the nature of Arabic. So, I believe it should go both ways.


Nadim Mahjoub Thu 20 Jul 2017 10:34AM

Hello! My name is Nadim نديم and I teach Arabic at LSE and International House London.

I will be posing a more fundamental question: We have been teaching MSA more or less according to CEFR. The question is that it is a waste of time teaching topics of functional Arabic in MSA. Most institutions have been doing that a nd students have been learning standard grammar, but they are not able to manage a real situation and when they try they find themselves in an embarrassing situation because they have used MSA.

There is an urgent to need to overhaul the teaching-learning approach to Arabic in Europe. In the US, esp. in places where Al-Kitaab is used, is much better, for they they are following the integrated approach (IA).

At LSE we are experimenting with the IA this year, hopefully.

So the issue is not about CEFR, but it is about teaching CEFR syllabus, in a major dialect.

Load More