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TEDxDubai

Patricia Ryan: Don't insist on English!

Patricia Ryan: Ma tlekkuš ɛla el-'engliziya!

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F TEDxDubai, tseqsi Patricia Ryan, w hiya šixa qdima ntaɛ 'engliziya, swal ntaɛ mnagra: El-telkak f el-ɛalem ɛla el-'engliziya huwa zeɛma elli rahu maneɛ el-nšir ntaɛ el-fkar el-kbar fi luġat waḥduxrin? (B el-mtel: Weš ykun el-ḥal la Einstein kan mejbur beš yfewwet el-TOEFL?) Hadi mḥamya, b el-nefḥa, ɛla el-tarjama w ɛla el-mqasma ntaɛ el-fkar.

- Language teacher
Patricia Ryan has spent the past three-plus decades teaching English in Arabic countries -- where she has seen vast cultural (and linguistic) change. Full bio

I know what you're thinking.
Ɛla bali weš raku txemmu.
00:16
You think I've lost my way,
Raku ḥasbin belli weddert ṭriqi,
00:18
and somebody's going to come on the stage in a minute
w belli keš waḥed ġadi yji l el-plaṭo, temm temm,
00:20
and guide me gently back to my seat.
w yredni, b el-ḍrafa, l kursiya.
00:22
(Applause)
(Teṣfaq)
00:24
I get that all the time in Dubai.
Ṣratli dima fi Dubey.
00:30
"Here on holiday are you, dear?"
"Raki fi ɛuṭla, ya el-ɛziza.'
00:33
(Laughter)
(Ḍeḥk)
00:35
"Come to visit the children?
"Jiti tzuri el-drari?"
00:37
How long are you staying?"
"Šḥal ġadi tebqay?"
00:40
Well actually, I hope for a while longer yet.
F el-waqeɛ, netmenna nzid neqɛed kter men hak.
00:42
I have been living and teaching in the Gulf
Ɛešt w qerrit f el-Xalij
00:45
for over 30 years.
kter men 30 ɛam.
00:48
(Applause)
(Teṣfaq)
00:50
And in that time, I have seen a lot of changes.
W f had el-weqt, šeft bezzaf tebdilat.
00:54
Now that statistic
Ḍerwek: el-'iḥṣa'iyat
00:58
is quite shocking.
qrib texleɛ.
**
Luġat el-ɛalem:
El-yum = 6.000
Menna l 90 ɛam: 600
01:00
And I want to talk to you today
W rani baġya nehḍer el-yum
01:02
about language loss
ɛla el-ḍyaɛa ntaɛ el-luġat
01:04
and the globalization of English.
w el-ɛawlama ntaɛ el-'engliziya.
01:06
I want to tell you about my friend
Rani ḥaba neḥkilkum ɛla ṣaḥabti
01:09
who was teaching English to adults in Abu Dhabi.
elli kanet tqerri el-'engliziya l el-šarfin f 'Abu Ḍabi.
01:11
And one fine day,
F waḥed el-nhar šbab,
01:14
she decided to take them into the garden
ɛewlet teddihum l el-jnina
01:16
to teach them some nature vocabulary.
beš tɛellemelhum šwiya m el-meklem ntaɛ el-xla.
01:18
But it was she who ended up learning
Beṣṣaḥ, f el-tali, hiya elli wellat tetɛellem
01:20
all the Arabic words for the local plants,
gaɛ el-'esmawat ɛreb ntaɛ el-šṭeb f hadak el-muḍeɛ,
01:22
as well as their uses --
w l weš yeṣṣelḥu --
01:24
medicinal uses, cosmetics,
f el-dwa, el-tezyan,
01:26
cooking, herbal.
el-ṭyab, el-ɛšub.
01:29
How did those students get all that knowledge?
Kifeš tɛelmu haduk el-ṭalaba gaɛ hadik el-meɛrifa?
01:32
Of course, from their grandparents
Bayna: men ɛend jdudhum
01:34
and even their great-grandparents.
w ḥetta men ɛend jdud jdudhum.
01:36
It's not necessary to tell you how important it is
Masqaš nqulkum šḥal muhhim
01:39
to be able to communicate
ki neqqedru netwaṣlu
01:42
across generations.
ma bin el-jyal.
01:44
But sadly, today,
Beṣṣaḥ xsara: el-yum,
01:46
languages are dying
el-luġat rahi tmut
01:48
at an unprecedented rate.
b waḥed el-xuffiya, ɛummer ma ṣrat kifha men qbel.
01:50
A language dies every 14 days.
Tmut luġa f kul 14 yum.
01:52
Now, at the same time,
Ḍerwek, f el-weqt datu,
01:56
English is the undisputed global language.
el-'engliziya wellat el-luġa ntaɛ el-ɛalem bla zyada f el-heḍra.
01:58
Could there be a connection?
Kayen hnaya ši weṣla?
02:00
Well I don't know.
El-ṣaḥḥ, maniš ɛarfa.
02:02
But I do know that I've seen a lot of changes.
Beṣṣaḥ elli ɛla bali bih huwa belli šeft qoja tebdilat.
02:04
When I first came out to the Gulf, I came to Kuwait
El-xeṭra el-'ewla ki jit l el-Xalij, jit l el-Kuweyt
02:07
in the days when it was still a hardship post.
f el-yamat elli kan fiha had el-muḍeɛ ɛad ṣɛib.
02:10
Actually, not that long ago.
F el-waqeɛ, mši gaɛ bekri bezzaf.
02:13
That is a little bit too early.
Hadi šwiya qbel mennu.
02:15
But nevertheless,
Beṣṣaḥ, kima kan el-ḥal,
02:18
I was recruited by the British Council,
qebluni beš nexdem f el-British Council,
02:20
along with about 25 other teachers.
mɛa qrib waḥed el-25 šix waḥduxrin.
02:22
And we were the first non-Muslims
W kunna el-mši muslimin el-lwala
02:24
to teach in the state schools there in Kuwait.
elli qerraw, temmatik, f el-msayed ntaɛ el-dula f el-Kuweyt.
02:26
We were brought to teach English
Jabuna beš nqerriw el-'engliziya
02:29
because the government wanted to modernize the country
laxaṭerš el-ḥukuma kanet baġya tṭewwer el-blad
02:31
and to empower the citizens through education.
w tqewwi el-šeɛbiyin b el-qraya.
02:35
And of course, the U.K. benefited
W bayna, Briṭanya stfadet
02:38
from some of that lovely oil wealth.
men šwiya m el-xir ntaɛ el-petrol, el-ɛziz.
02:40
Okay.
Ṣaḥḥa.
02:43
Now this is the major change that I've seen --
Ḍerwek, hada huwa el-tebdal el-kbir elli šeftu --
02:45
how teaching English
kifeš el-teɛlam ntaɛ el-'engliziya
02:48
has morphed
tḥewwel
02:50
from being a mutually beneficial practice
men kunu xedma fiha fayda l beɛḍna beɛḍ
02:52
to becoming a massive international business that it is today.
ḥetta wella, f el-ɛalem, ṣenɛa hayla - kima rahu el-yum.
02:56
No longer just a foreign language on the school curriculum,
Mši ġir luġġa berraniya f el-qraya ntaɛ el-msid,
02:59
and no longer the sole domain
w mši ġir el-muhhima
03:03
of mother England,
ntaɛ el-yemmayen el-'Ongleter,
03:05
it has become a bandwagon
wella el-jerrar
03:07
for every English-speaking nation on earth.
elli tsuqu kul blad, fuq el-'erḍ, tehḍer el-'engliziya.
03:09
And why not?
W ɛlah lla?
03:12
After all, the best education --
Kima kan el-ḥal, el-qraya el-mxeyra --
03:14
according to the latest World University Rankings --
ɛla ḥsab el-testaf el-'exrani ntaɛ el-jamiɛat f el-ɛalem --
03:17
is to be found in the universities
yetnelqa f el-jamiɛat
03:20
of the U.K. and the U.S.
ntaɛ Briṭanya w el-Marikan.
03:22
So everybody wants to have an English education, naturally.
'Amala, gaɛ rahum baġyin qraya 'engliziya, ɛla ḥsab el-šufa.
03:26
But if you're not a native speaker,
Beṣṣaḥ la ma kanetš hiya luġa't waldik,
03:30
you have to pass a test.
lazem ɛlik tfewwet xtibar.
03:32
Now can it be right
Fi mizkum, kayen ši ṣwab
03:34
to reject a student
ki nḥawzu keš ṭaleb
03:36
on linguistic ability alone?
ġir ɛla jal el-qudra ntaɛu f el-luġa?
03:38
Perhaps you have a computer scientist
Twali, ykun ɛendek ɛalem ntaɛ ḥawsaba
03:40
who's a genius.
elli huwa muxx.
03:42
Would he need the same language as a lawyer, for example?
Zeɛma ġadi yeḥtaj nefs el-luġa kima waḥed muḥami, b el-mtel?
03:44
Well, I don't think so.
El-ḥeqq, ma nḍenš had el-ši.
03:47
We English teachers reject them all the time.
Ḥna el-šyuxa ntaɛ el-'engliziya rana nḥawzu fihum, gaɛ el-weqt.
03:51
We put a stop sign,
Rana ndiru: Marka ntaɛ stop
03:54
and we stop them in their tracks.
w rana nḥebsu fihum f ṭriqhum.
03:56
They can't pursue their dream any longer,
Ma ɛaduš ynejmu yḥeqqu el-ḥelm dyalhum,
03:58
'til they get English.
ḥetta yetɛelmu el-'engliziya.
04:00
Now let me put it this way:
Ḍerwek: Xelluni nqeddemha b had el-ṣifa:
04:04
if I met a monolingual Dutch speaker
'Ida tlaqit b keš waḥed yehḍer ġir b el-holandiya
04:07
who had the cure for cancer,
elli ɛendu el-dwa ntaɛ el-konser,
04:11
would I stop him from entering my British University?
nḥebsu w ma nxellihš yedxel el-Jamiɛa el-Briṭaniya ntaɛi?
04:13
I don't think so.
Ma nḍenš.
04:16
But indeed, that is exactly what we do.
Beṣṣaḥ, f el-waqeɛ, hada huwa weš rana ndiru.
04:18
We English teachers are the gatekeepers.
Ḥnaya, el-šyuxa ntaɛ el-'engliziya, rana kima el-ɛessasa ntaɛ el-saqya.
04:21
And you have to satisfy us first
W lazem ɛlik tqenneɛna, qbel,
04:24
that your English is good enough.
belli el-'engliziya ntaɛek mliḥa kima yelzem.
04:27
Now it can be dangerous
Ḍerwek, teqder tkun el-ḥala waɛra
04:31
to give too much power
ki neɛṭiw ṣulṭa, b el-zyada,
04:33
to a narrow segment of society.
l ṭerf m el-mujtamaɛ.
04:36
Maybe the barrier would be too universal.
Had el-ḥdada tnejjem tkun kayna tanik f el-ɛalem.
04:38
Okay.
Ṣaḥḥa.
04:41
"But," I hear you say,
"Beṣṣaḥ," rani nesmeɛ fikum tqulu:
04:43
"what about the research?
"Weš el-ḥal ɛla el-beḥt?
04:46
It's all in English."
Kul ši rahu b el-'engliziya."
04:48
So the books are in English,
Ha el-ktuba b el-'engliziya,
04:50
the journals are done in English,
el-jranin medyurin b el-'engliziya,
04:52
but that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
beṣṣaḥ hadi nubu'a tebni ruḥha.
04:54
It feeds the English requirement.
Twajeb el-meṭlub el-'englizi.
04:57
And so it goes on.
W hak yzid el-ḥal ɛla ḥalu.
04:59
I ask you, what happened to translation?
Nseqsikum: Weš ṣra l el-tarjama?
05:01
If you think about the Islamic Golden Age,
'Ida xemmemtu f el-weqt el-mesɛud ntaɛ el-'Islam,
05:04
there was lots of translation then.
kanet kayna, weqtha, qoja tarjamat.
05:08
They translated from Latin and Greek
Terjmu m el-latiniya w el-yunaniya
05:11
into Arabic, into Persian,
l el-ɛerbiya, l el-farsi
05:14
and then it was translated on
w men temmak tterjmu
05:16
into the Germanic languages of Europe
f el-luġat el-jermaniya ntaɛ 'Europa
05:18
and the Romance languages.
w el-luġat el-romansiya.
05:20
And so light shone upon the Dark Ages of Europe.
W temmatik ɛad: el-ḍḍew newwer el-ɛehd el-meḍlam f el-'Örop
05:22
Now don't get me wrong;
Ḍerwek, masqaš teffehmuni ġlaṭ;
05:27
I am not against teaching English,
ma raniš kontr el-teɛlam ntaɛ el-'engliziya,
05:29
all you English teachers out there.
ntuma el-muɛellimin ntaɛ el-'engliziya
05:31
I love it that we have a global language.
Rahi rašqetli ki ɛendna luġa mentašra f el-ɛalem.
05:33
We need one today more than ever.
Rana meḥtajin waḥda el-yum kter men 'eyy weqt.
05:35
But I am against using it
Beṣṣaḥ rani kontr el-stiɛmal ntaɛha
05:38
as a barrier.
b mqam el-ḥdada.
05:40
Do we really want to end up with 600 languages
Zeɛma ṣaḥḥ, rana baġyin nkemlu ɛla 600 luġa
05:42
and the main one being English, or Chinese?
w tebqa ġir waḥda muhhima: el-'engliziya wella el-šinwiya?
05:45
We need more than that. Where do we draw the line?
Rana meḥtajin kter men had el-ši. Win lazem ndiru el-xeṭṭ?
05:48
This system
Had el-sistem
05:51
equates intelligence
ysawi bin el-fṭana
05:53
with a knowledge of English,
w el-meɛrifa ntaɛ el-'engliziya,
05:56
which is quite arbitrary.
Ḥaja elli hiya qrib medyura b kraɛ kelb.
05:59
(Applause)
(Teṣfaq)
06:01
And I want to remind you
W rani baġya nkakikum
06:07
that the giants upon whose shoulders
belli el-ɛamaliqa elli ɛla ktafhum
06:09
today's intelligentsia stand
rahi qayma el-'intelligentsya ntaɛ el-yum
06:12
did not have to have English,
ma kanš lazem ykun ɛendhum el-'engliziya,
06:14
they didn't have to pass an English test.
ma kanš lazem ɛlihum yffewtu xtibar ntaɛ 'engliziya.
06:16
Case in point, Einstein.
Ḥala b el-dat, Einstein.
06:18
He, by the way, was considered remedial at school
F had el-šan, kan melzum ɛlih ydir durus 'istidrak, f el-msid
06:22
because he was, in fact, dyslexic.
laxaṭerš, f el-waqeɛ, kanet ɛendu disleksya.
06:25
But fortunately for the world,
Beṣṣaḥ mziya l el-ɛalem,
06:27
he did not have to pass an English test.
ki ma fewwetš xtibar ntaɛ 'engliziya.
06:29
Because they didn't start until 1964
Laxaṭerš ma bdawš ḥetta 1964
06:32
with TOEFL,
mɛa el-TOEFL,
06:35
the American test of English.
el-xtibar el-marikani ntaɛ el-'engliziya.
06:37
Now it's exploded.
Ḍerwek el-ḥala rahi tfejret.
06:39
There are lots and lots of tests of English.
Rahi kayna ɛayṭa xtibarat ntaɛ el-'engliziya.
06:41
And millions and millions of students
W mlayen w mlayen ntaɛ ṭalaba
06:44
take these tests every year.
elli yfewtu had el-xtibarat kul ɛam.
06:46
Now you might think, you and me,
Ḍerwek, teqder txemmem, nta w 'anaya,
06:48
"Those fees aren't bad, they're okay,"
"Ma fiha ḥetta bas mɛa had el-meṣruf; kul ši: ɛalama,"
06:50
but they are prohibitive
beṣṣaḥ rahum yɛerqlu f
06:52
to so many millions of poor people.
šḥal men melyun bnadem zawali/faqir.
06:54
So immediately, we're rejecting them.
'Amala, b el-qeṭɛi, rana nrefḍu fihum.
06:56
(Applause)
(Teṣfaq)
06:58
It brings to mind a headline I saw recently:
Hada yfekkerni b waḥed el-ɛunwan f el-xbarat šeftu hada mši bezzaf:
07:01
"Education: The Great Divide."
"El-Qraya: El-Feṣla el-Kbira."
07:04
Now I get it,
Ḍerwek rani
07:06
I understand why people would want to focus on English.
fhemt ɛlah el-nas rahi tlekkek ɛla el-'engliziya.
07:08
They want to give their children the best chance in life.
Rahum baġyin ymeddu l wladhum el-furṣa el-mxeyra fi ḥyathum.
07:11
And to do that, they need a Western education.
W beš ydiru had el-ši, lazemlhum terbiya't gwer.
07:15
Because, of course, the best jobs
Laxaṭerš w hadi bayna: el-xedmat el-mxeyrin
07:18
go to people out of the Western Universities,
yruḥu l el-nas elli txerju m el-jamiɛat gwer,
07:20
that I put on earlier.
elli nebbeht lihum men qbel.
07:23
It's a circular thing.
nruḥu nruḥu w nwellu l blaṣa waḥda.
07:25
Okay.
Ṣaḥḥa.
07:27
Let me tell you a story about two scientists,
Xelluni neḥkilkum ḥkaya ntaɛ zuj ɛulama,
07:29
two English scientists.
zuj ɛulama ngliz.
07:31
They were doing an experiment
Kanu ydiru f waḥed el-tejriba
07:33
to do with genetics
ɛendha ɛalaqa b el-jinat
07:35
and the forelimbs and the hind limbs of animals.
w el-gwayem ntaɛ el-quddam w el-lurr ɛend el-hwayeš.
07:37
But they couldn't get the results they wanted.
Beṣṣaḥ ma qedruš yewweṣlu l el-natijat elli bġawha.
07:40
They really didn't know what to do,
Beḥretelhum weš ydiru,
07:42
until along came a German scientist
ḥetta elli ja waḥed el-ɛalem 'almani
07:44
who realized that they were using two words
elli tkaka belli kanu yexxedmu b zuj kelmat
07:47
for forelimb and hind limb,
beš yehheḍru ɛla el-gwayem ntaɛ el-quddam w el-lurr,
07:50
whereas genetics does not differentiate
win el-jenetik ma tmeyyezš binathum
07:52
and neither does German.
w la el-'almaniya, tanik.
07:56
So bingo,
'Amala bingo,
07:58
problem solved.
el-muškila tḥellet.
08:00
If you can't think a thought,
'Ida ma qdertš txemmem keš texmima,
08:02
you are stuck.
'amala, rak ḥaṣel.
[Luġa - Texmima - Meɛrifa]
08:04
But if another language can think that thought,
Beṣṣaḥ, lakan luġa waḥduxra teqder txemmem hadik el-texmima
08:07
then, by cooperating,
'amala, b el-mɛawna,
08:09
we can achieve and learn so much more.
neqqedru nḥeqqu w netɛelmu, kter w kter.
08:11
My daughter
Benti
08:16
came to England from Kuwait.
jat l 'Inglitra m el-Kuweyt.
08:18
She had studied science and mathematics in Arabic.
Hiya qrat el-ɛulum w el-riyaḍiyat b el-ɛerbiya.
08:21
It's an Arabic medium school.
F msid ɛerbi metweṣṣeṭ.
08:24
She had to translate it into English at her grammar school.
Kan lazem ɛliha tterjem b el-'engliziya f el-kulij ntaɛha.
08:27
And she was the best in the class
W kanet el-mxeyra f el-klaṣa,
08:30
at those subjects.
f had el-mawad.
08:32
Which tells us
El-ši elli yqulenna
08:34
that when students come to us from abroad,
belli ki el-ṭalaba yju l ɛendna men berra,
08:36
we may not be giving them enough credit
neqqedru ma nmedulhumš kfaya tiqa
08:38
for what they know,
ɛla weš yeɛɛerfu,
08:40
and they know it in their own language.
w huma yeɛɛerfuha b el-luġat ntaweɛhum.
08:42
When a language dies,
Ki tmut keš luġa,
08:45
we don't know what we lose with that language.
ma neɛɛerfuš weš nḍeyɛu mɛa had el-luġa.
08:47
This is -- I don't know if you saw it on CNN recently --
Hada huwa -- Maniš ɛarfa la tferrejtu f el-CNN hadi mudda qlila --
08:50
they gave the Heroes Award
ki ɛṭaw el-jayza ntaɛ Heroes Award
08:54
to a young Kenyan shepherd boy
l waḥed el-raɛi ṣġir, men Kinya,
08:56
who couldn't study at night in his village,
elli ma kanš yeqder yeqra, b el-lil, f el-dešra ntaɛu,
08:59
like all the village children,
b ḥal gaɛ el-bzuza f el-dešra,
09:02
because the kerosene lamp,
ɛla jal el-lampa ntaɛ el-kirozen:
09:04
it had smoke and it damaged his eyes.
kanet tdir el-duxxan w ɛeṭbetlu ɛeynih.
09:06
And anyway, there was never enough kerosene,
W kima kan el-ḥal, ɛummer ma kan temmatik el-kirozen kima yliq,
09:08
because what does a dollar a day buy for you?
laxaṭerš weš ġadi yeqḍilek dollar meṣruf f el-nhar?
09:11
So he invented
'Amala xtareɛ
09:14
a cost-free solar lamp.
waḥed el-lampa temši b el-šmisa w ma yliqelha ḥetta meṣruf.
09:16
And now the children in his village
W ḍerwek el-drari f el-dešra ntaɛu
09:19
get the same grades at school
rahum yeqraw mɛa beɛḍ f el-msid
09:21
as the children who have electricity at home.
kima el-bzuza elli ɛendhum el-ḍeww f dyurhum.
09:23
(Applause)
(Teṣfaq)
09:27
When he received his award,
Ki nál el-jayza ntaɛu,
09:33
he said these lovely words:
qal had el-klimat elli yeġwiw:
09:35
"The children can lead Africa from what it is today,
"El-bzuza ntaɛ Friqya ynejmu yeddiwha men weš rahi ḍerwek,
09:37
a dark continent,
qara meḍlama,
09:40
to a light continent."
l qara mḍewya."
09:42
A simple idea,
Fekra sahla,
09:44
but it could have such far-reaching consequences.
beṣṣaḥ tnejjem tkun ɛendha šḥal men natija kbira.
09:46
People who have no light,
El-nas elli ma ɛendhumš el-ḍeww,
09:50
whether it's physical or metaphorical,
ḥeqqani wella b el-meɛna,
09:52
cannot pass our exams,
ma yeqqedruš yfewtu el-xtibarat dyalna,
09:55
and we can never know what they know.
w ɛummer ma nnejmu neɛɛerfu weš yeɛɛerfu.
09:58
Let us not keep them and ourselves
Masqaš nxelluhum w nxellu rwaḥtina
10:01
in the dark.
f el-ḍlam.
10:04
Let us celebrate diversity.
Xelluna neḥtaflu b el-tenwaɛ.
10:06
Mind your language.
Thella fi luġtek.
10:09
Use it to spread great ideas.
Steɛmelha beš tenšer fkar kbar.
10:12
(Applause)
(Teṣfaq)
10:16
Thank you very much.
Ṣeḥḥitu b el-bezzaf. Šukran!
10:23
(Applause)
(Teṣfaq)
10:25

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About the speaker:

Patricia Ryan - Language teacher
Patricia Ryan has spent the past three-plus decades teaching English in Arabic countries -- where she has seen vast cultural (and linguistic) change.

Why you should listen

UK-born language teacher Patricia Ryan has spent most of the past 40 years teaching English in the countries of the Arabian Gulf.
She is currently teaching at Zayed University in Dubai, and studying for a second Masters degree in Law.

More profile about the speaker
Patricia Ryan | Speaker | TED.com