Literature Resources in the Teaching of Arabic Language in Spain: Graded Readers

Literature Resources in the Teaching of Arabic Language in Spain: Graded Readers

Lidia Fernández Fonfría (University of Salamanca, Spain & Toledo School of Translators, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain) and Álvaro Abella Villar (Toledo School of Translators, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 40
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3379-6.ch006
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This chapter presents a review of the situation of teaching Arabic as a foreign language (TAFL) in Spain in the 20th and 21st centuries, and it focuses on the institutions, trends, methodologies, and resources available. In the last section, the possible applications of literature in the teaching of Arabic will be exposed, paying special attention to the readings that students can use to broaden and consolidate their knowledge. After reviewing the available materials adapted to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR), “My Life on Planet Mars” and “A Year in Tangier,” a comparative analysis will be carried out and various application proposals will be presented.
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Historical Evolution Of The Teaching Of Arabic Language In Spain

In order to contextualize the use of literature in the teaching of Arabic language in Spain, it is necessary to start with a brief diachronic overview of this discipline in the Iberian Peninsula, focusing on the methodologies used by teachers of Arabic language throughout history. It is clear that Teaching of Arabic language in Spain has been historically linked to the Muslim past of the country and to the role played by the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages as a bridge between Europe and the Arab world.

The eight centuries of Arab presence in Spain resulted in the formation of multilingual societies: Arabic, Latin, the emerging Romance languages (Spanish, Galician-Portuguese and Catalan) coexisted in the different territories of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Mozarabic and Hebrew. The contacts between the different communities aroused the need to learn the language of the neighbour, as evidenced by the first translations of medical treaties in the court of Cordoba in the 10th century1.

The advance of the Reconquista and the conquest of cities such as Toledo (1085), Zaragoza (1118), Badajoz (1228), Mallorca (1232), Valencia (1238), Murcia (1243) or Seville (1248) resulted in the Christian control over large Arabic-speaking communities. The need to know their language was peremptory for two main reasons: the conversion of Muslim communities to the Christian faith, and the transmission and assimilation of Arab science and culture. Starting from the 13th century the Dominican order had studia linguarum (language schools), mainly in the kingdom of Aragon, in which the friars studied or taught Arabic2, in order to train preachers capable of communicate and convert to Christianity the masses of the Arab population.

Regarding to cultural transmission, the scientific legacy left by the Arabs in the conquered territories propelled the translation activity in various centres, among which stands out the city of Toledo. Since the 12th century, under the impulse of Bishop Raimundo de Sauvetat, the scriptorium of Toledo produced Latin translations of Arab works, and the city attracted several scholars from all over Europe attracted by the collections of its libraries. Among them was the Italian Gerardo de Cremona, who came to Toledo to learn Arabic, therefore we can assume that it was possible to study the language in the city in those times.

To find the date in which Arabic Studies acquired university rank in Spain we must advance to the 14th century. At that moment, there was an increasing interest throughout Europe to introduce schools for the teaching of Arabic in the main European universities3. In Spain, the University of Salamanca would be the pioneer in the teaching of Arabic language, although the economic difficulties would lead to the creation in 1381 of a single chair called “Trilingual” in which the studies of Arabic, Hebrew and Chaldean were included (Vázquez de Benito, 2012).

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