Arabic speaker series educates and informs

This week, King’s Academy invited former Minister of State for Media Affairs Sakher Dudin to talk to students about his experience as a former public servant, architectural engineer, and spokesperson for the Arabic language.

Organized by the Department of Communication, Rhetoric and the Literary Arts (CRLA) –Arabic, the talk took place during a special school meeting on Monday in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium attended by all Upper School students, preceded by a smaller class discussion with students studying The Art of Non-Fiction.

The talk was part of ongoing series of discussions with guest speakers on a wide range of issues relevant to topics that students are studying in various Arabic classes. This week, King’s also hosted Zeena Majali, co-founder and managing director of Crystel, Jordan’s first independent, multilingual contact center, and Nabil Ghishan, a veteran journalist and former member of parliament.

During his talk, Dudin — who is also a founding member of the Arabic Language Preservation Society — spoke to students about the uniqueness of the Arabic language and the importance of mastering it in order to effectively communicate and engage with an audience and the general public, in addition to offering tips on the art of debate and public speaking.

Responding to questions from students, Dudin shared how being an architect “by education, training, practice and passion” aided his political career as it trained him to look at issues in a methodological and analytical manner.

Dudin shared with students some of the challenges that face officials, particularly in public government communication. These include a regression in Arabic language use, social media’s propensity to thrive on negative content, having to reduce the amount of information to short sound bites, consequently not having room to establish background and context, and decontextualization, where any sentence can be taken out of context and disseminated.

Illustrating the organic relationship between knowledge, language, culture and communication, Dudin referred to “floreat scientia,” the King’s motto that means, in Latin, “let knowledge flourish.”

“The way Arabic language is taught in most academic institutions restricts its huge potential as a marvelous tool for receiving and producing knowledge and the cultural frame of reference and scheme of relevance,” Dudin said. “This, in turn, can negatively affect the communicative process and space in our society.”

“The way Arabic language has been taught at schools and universities for the past 60 years has been focused on mastering grammar and syntax for formulating an expression, rather than informing what that expression should be all about,” Dudin explained. By doing this, he added, “we lose a golden opportunity to teach successive generations about the relevance of Arabic poetry, philosophy, logic, law, debate, art, beauty, cinema, politics, geography and history.”

According to Dudin, a balance between the study of language construction, language evolution and the exploration of the power of language can have more value and relevance to students.

“I believe that the learning of Arabic needs an urgent rethink that allows students the ability to unlock, appreciate, and even question the Arab culture,” said Dudin. “This approach would positively impact the way we communicate and interact together, including in the context of political communication.”

Nabil Ghishan

Meanwhile, during the Women in Arabic Literature class on Monday, students had a lively discussion with Zeena Majali, a pioneer of entrepreneurship and a champion for women’s employment and empowerment, who won the United Nations Women prize for gender equality.

Speaking to columnist and former chief editor of Al Arab Al Yawm Nabil Ghishan on Thursday, students in The Art of Nonfiction (Arabic) course learned about Ghishan’s experience as a journalist as well as his political work as a member of parliament. Ghishan also shared tips on writing press releases and on how to distinguish false news from real news.

  • Arabic
  • Guest Speaker