Teaching Arabic to non-native speakers using an innovative methodology… Theatrical drama between the Arab and Chinese cultures
The book “Theatrical Drama between Arab and Chinese Cultures: A Methodology for Teaching Arabic to Non-Native Speakers” was recently published by its authors, the Moroccan writer, Professor of Chinese Culture Khadija Alli, and the Egyptian academic Khaled Ahmed, who specializes in literary criticism and teaching Arabic to non-native speakers.
The book deals with the history of the Arabic language in China and contains chapters that talk at length about the role of theater in teaching Arabic, as well as theatrical texts introducing Arabic and Chinese culture for the primary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as practical texts translated into English and Chinese.
The book includes 50 theatrical works, divided into three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced, in addition to various dramatic exercises to develop language and theatrical skills.
This work is the third project of author Khadija Alli in Arabic and Chinese that falls within the framework of encouraging the Chinese to study the Arabic language to bring closer and introduce Moroccan culture “occasions, holidays, customs…”, especially after the signing of the Belt and Road Agreement between King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The book includes various topics, most notably the history of the Arabic language in China, its status, and the definition of theater, its role, objectives, and importance in teaching Arabic to non-native speakers.
The book also deals with the characteristics of the teacher who adopts the presentation of theatrical lessons, the procedures and how to teach the play to learners of the Arabic language, and it reviews texts and applications on Chinese and Arabic culture.
The author says, “We relied on the three frames of reference in teaching Arabic to non-native speakers in order to complete this book, which contains about 300 pages, and we have covered all levels of primary, intermediate and advanced education, to be a comprehensive and comprehensive book.”
Arabic in China
The co-author of the book’s introduction says that teaching Arabic in China is receiving increasing attention thanks to the support of Arab governments, and Beijing’s keenness to develop forms of cultural exchange after the launch of the “Belt and Road” project.
The demand for learning the Arabic language from non-native speakers has increased, as it is an important matter and an ultimate goal, especially since the number of foreign communities working in the diplomatic, commercial and service sectors has increased, and a large number of them want to learn the Arabic language, which prompted Arab academic institutions to teach Arabic as a language Again, for non-native speakers, centers and institutes were established in the Arab countries to teach the Arabic language in an easy and smooth manner, based on the gradual progression from the easiest to the most difficult.
History of Arabic in China
The first chapter of the book discusses the reason for the spread of the Arabic language in China, noting that most studies agree that this spread is due to two main factors, the first of which is the spread of Islam in China, and the second is the development of relations between it and the Arab countries, especially in the commercial and political fields.
According to the book, August 25, 651 AD, corresponding to Muharram 2, 31 AH, is considered the date of the entry of the Arabs into the country of China, as it was mentioned in the “Chinese History Record” that the Chinese were referring to the Arab countries as “dashi” and as stated in the book “Ancient Tang c. 4 “The Arabs on the above-mentioned date sent an envoy to the country of China, and it was ruled by the Tang Dynasty at that time, specifically “Gao Zong”, while the Arab Caliph was “Othman bin Affan”, may God be pleased with him, the third of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs.
The period from 651 to 798 AD witnessed a rise in the number of Arab missions to China, where they sent 39 envoys to the Tang Dynasty, and missions continued even in the state of the Song Dynasty.
A study conducted by “Bei Shui Yi” confirms that the Arabs sent 49 envoys to China, an average of one envoy every 4 years within 200 years.
However, some studies indicate that the Arabs entered the country of China before the date referred to above, albeit unofficially, as many traders entered during the rule of the Tang and Song dynasties via the sea route beside Chinese cities that include commercial ports such as Guangzhou (Canton), Quanzhou and Mingzhou (now Nipguo Port) and Yangzhou, and these cities enabled Arab merchants to penetrate to various other trading cities in the Chinese provinces, and even allowed them to stay in the country of China.
What distinguishes the spread of Arabic in the country of China during the reign of the Tang and Song dynasties is that most of the arrivals were envoys or merchants. With them to the countries of the East, where they fought several battles in the country of China.
After that, the Muslim soldiers dispersed in the country of China, and formed groups, as they were able to integrate with the local population, and it is not surprising if we say that some Arabs have enjoyed the exercise of some major positions such as the position of Prime Minister.
This spread in the form of groups enabled the Arabs in China to establish a residential neighborhood for Muslims called “Banfang”, and mosques were built, under the rule of the Tang Dynasty, and the first mosque established in China was the Huaihua Mosque in Canton, which was built during the rule of the Tang Dynasty. Tang (year 629 AD).
In the beginning, mosques were characterized by the practice of religious rites such as prayer, then they were centers for spreading the Qur’an and teaching the principles of religion, as they were the only space for teaching the Arabic language.
It should be noted that many mosques, when they were built, bore the same name as the place where they were established and were called the “Prayer Temple”, such as the “New Ji” Prayer Temple in Beijing and the “Ding Chu” Prayer Temple in Bhabai.
The book concludes that the Arabic language entered the country of China with the arrival of Arab Muslims and expanded its area with the spread of Islam, and in the current era, the Chinese government has become interested in developing its relations with Arab countries, especially after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
In the modern era, the cultural movement resisting imperialism and feudalism contributed to a major transformation, with which the weaknesses of education appeared in mosques. Hence, Chinese Muslims worked to establish modern schools in which both Chinese and Arabic were taught, and they were interested in teaching cultural subjects in both languages.
In universities, the book says, no one disputes that Professor Abdul Rahman Nachong (retired from the University of Foreign Studies in Beijing) was the first to teach Arabic at a Chinese university, after his return from Egypt in 1943. Professor Nachong established the methodology of teaching Arabic in He also gave lectures to students at the Central University on Arab-Islamic history in 1945.
Beijing International Language University represents the first Chinese university to establish a division to teach Arabic. In 1946, the university invited Muhammad Makin, after completing his studies at Al-Azhar University, to establish an Arabic language division in the Department of Oriental Languages. He began teaching the Arabic language at the university without any reference or even a dictionary, so he collected books, categorized and translated them from Arabic into Chinese. Thus, Peking University became one of the most prestigious universities in the Arabic language. .
The second chapter of the book discusses the history of theater since ancient times and its contribution to satisfying man’s aesthetic and mental needs, because of the type of audience he attends, and because of the close bond that binds his audience with his actors, and then because of various other values, for all these reasons he seems destined to live a few thousand more years. .
Even if the different theater was written to fulfill the predictions of the old pessimists, and death would befall it, the educational theater would remain a natural field for training and a starting point for the student, in any branch of theatrical arts, as the living theater is the root, from which the rest of the other branches were generated, according to the book. .
If theatrical renaissance depends on research, studies and experiences in the field of theatrical arts and literature, then theatrical culture also adds definition to the theatrical heritage, with its publications and translations of interest to specialists and the public alike.
Teaching Arabic through theatre
The book considers the idea of teaching the Arabic language through theater a pioneering idea, as the theatrical field provides for unloading students’ energies and motivating them to learn, and thus specialists in the field of education began to focus on integrating the educational process with theater and from here the school theater appeared, as a means to support learning and education through activity, However, teaching languages through theater is a distinctive presentation of the skills of recitation and dialogue that we find in the theater and breaking the psychological barrier in the face of the audience.
The book says that teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers through theatrical performance and theatrical recitation training acquires Arabic language skills in a more attractive way than the typical teaching process. It is possible for non-Arabic speaking students to master the skills (listening – speaking – reading – writing) through acting performance.
However, there are some obstacles that may impede this proposition, including the lack of teachers who have the capacity for theatrical training from teachers of Arabic to non-native speakers, so the aim of this book came, which is to set frameworks for the teacher of Arabic for non-native speakers to learn about theater and its terminology in a more accurate and comprehensive way and to identify the steps The procedure that enables him to teach the Arabic language through theatrical works and artistic performance.