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Fri 2 Jan 2009 08:26 AM

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New university students to face Arabic test

UAE move to encourage young Emiratis to use their mother tongue as well as English.

Thousands of new students at the UAE’s three main universities are set to be tested in the Arabic language in a new move to encourage young Emiratis to use their mother tongue.

The Arabic test will probably be introduced in September as the third Common Educational Proficiency Assessment (Cepa) after English and Mathematics, officials have said.

“The whole thrust is to ensure the country has the appropriate language resources in both Arabic and English,” said Dr Annie Brown, the head of Cepa at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in comments published by UAE daily The National on Friday.

“It’s an Arabic-speaking country, but operating in a global environment, and they need both languages. We don’t want them to have one at the expense of another,” she added.

Test results will be used by Zayed University, UAE University and the Higher Colleges of Technology, where lessons are taught in English, to decide whether students need extra Arabic lessons. The 150-minute test will include multiple-choice questions and an essay to be written in Arabic.

“We’re trying to get away from testing their knowledge of the language and focusing on their ability to use the language and to read texts,” Brown told the paper.

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