Pearson launches bilArabi, an innovative new Arabic language program for K-9 students in the UAE

Dubai, UAE - Pearson Middle East today officially launched ‘bilArabi’, a dedicated Arabic learning programme designed to help students aged 4-13 learn and reconnect with the language in a fun and engaging way. The new learning programme was introduced at a launch event in the UAE attended by more than 95 education professionals.

Recognizing that an interactive approach plays a significant role in enriching children’s learning experience and development, the bilArabi programme uses an inquiry-based approach with engaging characters and stories that makes learning student-centred. bilArabi is aligned with the UK and US curriculum and will be rolled across schools in the UAE and KSA (first phase), with the potential of further expanding across the higher education sector and to working professionals.

As younger students continue to struggle with literacy in the Arabic language, schools in the UAE are being urged to dedicate more time to teaching Arabic reading and language comprehension skills. A 2017 survey carried out by the UAE government showed that only 68% of students in the UAE had high skills in Arabic, according to national tests. In fact, the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda has set as a target that UAE students have a strong knowledge of the Arabic language. The current teaching methodology in schools is mostly traditional, often using a rote approach. Students – and especially those for whom Arabic is a second or even third language - struggle with this way of learning and will benefit immensely from a more engaging approach. An estimated 83.5% of the UAE population is made up by expats. 

bilArabi is based on international language teaching standards, which means that students’ proficiency and progress are measured across a new quality benchmark for Arabic language acquisition, and one where learning outcomes are consistent across different schools and countries. It is accessible to all students with the inclusion of native and non-native strands and also uses a literature-based approach to develop a sense of cultural identity and pride in Arabic history through connections to past and current case studies. 

Fabio d'Emilio, Service Delivery and Publishing Director at Pearson Middle East commented, “The UAE has set a goal to rank in the top 20 countries in Programme for International Student Assessment and the top 15 nations in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study by 2021. In line with this strategy, we are proud to introduce this programme to students to reignite a love of the Arabic language and to reduce its overall decline in the learning of the language. The programme is engaging and interactive and is aimed at gently challenging young learners, while teaching them important language skills that research shows will aid them during their school years and into adulthood.”

With the aim to enhance learning, imagination, cognitive and interactive experiences, the new language programme will bridge the current gap in the education sector. As Dr.Hanada Taha, series author and endowed Chair Professor of Arabic Language at Zayed University and former acting Dean of Bahrain Teachers College comments:

“bilArabi is a rich curriculum that offers more than just language learning, with content that aims to develop a passion for Arabic history and culture and inspire trust in a bright future for the language. The course also includes 21st Century Skills such as collaboration, creativity and critical thinking to prepare students for high-stakes exams and the workplace,” added Dr. Hanada Taha.

"We are proud to roll out the bilArabi programme in partnership with Pearson, underlining our ongoing commitment to improve the methodologies used for teaching the Arabic language. bilArabi has already proven invaluable in our strategic plan in developing the pedagogical practice of our teachers and in ensuring our children have a love for the language. The programme plays a significant role in contributing to the future of Arabic teaching, which is aligned with research, creativity and innovative teaching strategies. We look forward to further monitoring the impact of bilArabi on its progress and attainment over time," commented Ashleigh Thompson, Deputy Headteacher at Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba in Dubai.

Learners can access their student eBook through the bilArabi digital platform and can also take part in online practice activities such as quizzes to test their Arabic language knowledge and understanding, extending learning beyond the classroom. The inclusion of ‘parent engagement’ sections in the Student’s Book actively involves parents in their child’s Arabic language learning development from the outset of the course. bilArabi offers a blended-learning approach that suits both traditional and more technologically advanced schools. 

Following a successful pilot currently being rolled out in selected schools, bilArabi learning programme will be launched from January 2019 for level 1-3 with international UK and US curriculum schools in the UAE and KSA for first teaching in September 2019. Higher levels will be available from 2020 in the UAE, KSA, Qatar and Kuwait.

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