The effectiveness of online teaching & learning of Arabic as a foreign language in Turkish universities. (English)
The effectiveness of teaching and learning Arabic as a foreign language online in Turkish universities
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, online teaching and learning methods were adopted by educational institutions worldwide, to continue meeting students’ needs. However, with Arabic less commonly taught as a foreign language, there were few existing programmes supporting the online teaching of Arabic. This study aimed to understand both teachers’ and learners’ perceptions (good and bad) involved in online Arabic language classes introduced by two provincial universities in Turkey as a result of the pandemic, as well as looking at the extent to which virtual learning had enhanced learner autonomy. Data was collected through semi-structured online interviews with Arabic language students and teachers, with findings suggesting that although online education promoted a degree of learner autonomy, it was seen primarily as a complement to face-to-face teaching rather than as a replacement. The study also revealed the difficulties of this propelled online transition for which neither university was prepared, lacking technical expertise, well-developed online platforms, and inexperienced staff relative to both technical and online teaching skills. Students in rural areas also lacked the necessary equipment, stable connections, and spaces in which to study. Findings also revealed the important role of social media in preparing and familiarising students with the online world and building up their ‘research’ autonomy, the need for training and for the development of online curricula. Pedagogical implications and recommendations for language teachers, and universities and their policymakers are discussed.