Faculty of Languages of Sanaa University: Arena of Boundless Suffering [Archives:2001/15/Reportage]

April 9 2001

Report by: YT Sanaa University Correspondent
Nabil Al-Kumaim
The Faculty of Languages was first established in 1997 at Sana’a University. It is considered the first faculty in Yemen specialized in teaching foreign languages in Yemen. Language Faculty consist of 5 departments: English, Arabic & Tradition, German, French and Arabic Department for foreigners learning the Arabic language.
It also provides the opportunity to obtain M. A. Degree in English and Arabic & Translation. Unfortunately, there are many problems and obstacles that face the students and the staff of the faculty. Although, this year will witness graduation of the first batch of the faculty’s students, they have no building of their own. They didn’t ever see anything called a languages lab.
In this report we will spotlight some issues that concern the Faculty of Languages, Sana’a University.
At first we interviewed several students from all departments and levels:
Hanan M., Salmaa,
and Bushra Al-Ashmory
English Department, level 4.
Currently, we are studying in the halls of the Faculty of Law. We are like the homeless. We organized a strike last year and demanded a separate building for our department, but nobody listened to our demand.
Q: What about the level of professors who taught you during the past 4 years?
A: You can’t generalize on all of them. Some professors are excellent in manner and method, others they just come to flirt with girl students.” “I can’t believe that although we are now in the final year, we have not till now practiced using the language laboratory.
Ammar Al-Sharafi
English Department Level 3
I am representative of General Union of Yemeni student in the Languages Faculty but we have no permanent office because the college itself does not have its own building. So this must be given the top priority. It’s our duty in the faculty of languages to solve students’ problems but now its out of our hands.
Nassar Al-Mahfady and
Nouraddin Taqiaddin
English Department, Level 1
Q: Are you satisfied with your text books?
A: As you know the English language is developing every day. But our present text books don’t meet our needs. Some esteemed teachers exert personal efforts to prescribe something which is different from our curriculum. Our grammar topics are a kind of a mixture and not clear to us.
Najla’a M. Hanadi and N. Al-Ashwal
English Dep. Level 1
Q: Do you have enough well qualified teachers? And what are the facilities you need?
A: Now, we are in the new millennium and must keep pace with the world. The college must be equipped with modern apparatuses. But unfortunately there is nothing we are studying differently than those who studied in the 60’s. Every teacher (Yemeni, Iraqi and Indian) has his way and style, but some of us prefer Yemeni, others prefer Iraqi or Indian.
We suffer from intervention and corruption, not only in our faculty but everywhere in Yemen. For instance when we passed placement test we were just 160 students. After the second placement test we became 200 students, but after some interventions the number soared to 253.
Akram Fakhry and Samar Al-Absi
French Department Level 3
Our main problems in the French Dep are:
1. Shortage in well qualified teachers.
2. Auditoriums are not enough.
3. Our syllabus in the 3rd level is always changed, so we can’t adapt ourselves to these changes. Besides, there is no sense of responsibility toward us. Administration and staff must improve our textbooks to meet our ambitions.
Q: Where do you propose to work?
A: We are looking forward to working in the tourism sector or in foreign companies.
Moh’d Shamms, Yehia Al-Surabi and Abdurazaq Saeed
German Department, Level 4
Q: What are the problems you faced from the first year?
A: German language is rather a new one in our curriculum. So it needs to be given intensive care and seminars and the subject needs to be organized. Unfortunately there is an inadequacy of sessions and seminars due to the scarcity of funding for these activities. Nevertheless, the German department organized last term a celebration sponsored by the Ambassador of Germany to Yemen.
Q: How do you foresee your future especially as you are the first group of graduates from German department in Yemen?
A: We think we have great job opportunities because we are the first batch. But I don’t think this will be the case for our colleagues in coming years. The number of future graduates may exceed the demand. The solution could be to decrease the number of students enrolled at the department for the coming years. We are 26 student now in the 4th year, 22 males and 4 females, but in the first level there are more.
Nabil Al-Masmary
Arabic and Translation Dep. Level 1
When I joined this college I noticed that there were enough teachers but in the absence of plans and rules governing their work, every teacher follows his own schedule irrespective of our needs.
Q: Do you feel optimistic about your future prospects in this Department?
A: Personally, I am frustrated because I chose this department to be a translator/interpreter, not to learn dead poetry. When I registered here I thought I would find something different, and something better.
Then, we interviewed some teachers in the faculty:
Dr. B. T. Desai (Indian)
Professor of English
“There are no big differences between Yemeni and Indian students except in pupils’ categories and their mood, I can agree with you there is a decline in Seminars but last term we held one entitled “18th Century’s Drama”Dr. R. K Malik (Indian)
Ph.D. in Linguistics
Every thing in the faculty is okay, but there is neglect regarding language labs. If you want to be fluent in any language you must possess all means and equipment.
Saleh A. Saif (Yemeni)
I have much of experience in teaching ways and can tell you that undoubtedly we need a laboratory because there is a difference between Arabic language and European languages. We heard that there are language labs in our faculty but it has disappeared.”Dr. Yusra
Ph.D. in Linguistics and Translation (Baghdad)
The problem here is that in this tentative building you can’t find a place to rest during intervals. There is no staff room to meet, for colleagues to solve problems and exchange information. Language labs are essential but they claim there is no space for it.
Mr. Moh’d Naif
(M. A. From USA in ELT in 1998)
Q: How do you evaluate Education in Yemen compared to that in USA?
A: The difference in attitude of students, education system and availability of qualified experts. We must offer patronage to students to help them communicate with others to improve their skills. Personally I achieved my fluency through my communication with others in Britain, France and USA.
Dr. Abdulamir Al-Ward
Ph.D. in Semantics and Syntax, Iraq
Q: What is the importance of languages in a nation’s life?
A: We are in a global village, today everybody must learn more than one language. In ancient history the Ottomans were given the salary according to number of language they knew
Dr. Sharma, (Indian)
Head of the English Department
I have been 12 years in Yemen and I can say that the education in Yemen is developing and some more attention should be paid.
Q: Some pupils complain about the current syllabus. Do you intend to change anything?
A: We are intending to review and revise the curriculum after 4 years. We now have a clear vision about the amendments that will be made.
Q: Tell us abut your policies and programs in the faculty.
A: You know, we are now in the Information Age. So we must follow up on these changes. Accordingly, we decided to be the first Department in Sana’a University which will observe and follow up the levels of the students, I mean their activities, marks, behavior and make monthly evaluations for every student.
Q: What do you think about this statement: “English language was founded in Britain, developed in USA and died in India”?
A: English language never died. On the contrary it became more popular and lovely in India and improved there.
Ahlam Al-Gubari
“Registry office”Q: What’s the reason behind increasing the number of girl students?
A: Girls want the languages more than boys because they have time to study at home and improve their levels. There is no appreciation for women here. On the contrary everyone fights against us. They don’t want women to be appointed to significant posts.
Mohammed Fateh
College General Secretary
Q: What is the reason behind the increase in the number of students after the placement tests?
A: There are orders from high ranking officials to accept some students who have a low percentage. Now we have 1775 students in the University.
Dr. Abdurida Ali, (Iraq)
Deputy of Dean
M. A. From Egypt in “Modern literature and its criticism in Arabic” and author of 10 books about Arab literature
Q: What’s about the level of teachers here?
A: In the faculty of languages without exaggeration, there are some of the best teachers in the Arab world.
Q: But some students complain that there is shortage in qualified teachers.
A: You know some students always grumble. Before 1997, we put the materials associated with two professors from Egypt:
1.Dr. Izaddin Ismaeel from Ain Shams University.
2.Dr. Oni Abdulrauf, The Dean of the Language Faculty in Ain Shams University, as well as several professors from Education and Art Faculties to avoid any mix between our textbooks and theirs.
Q: We heard that you submitted your resignation 3 times, why?
A: Because I am so tired and want some rest.
Q: How do you account for the increasing number of Iraqi teachers in the faculty?
A: As you know, after the Gulf War the situation in Iraq became miserable. So many Professors and teachers immigrated worldwide. So you can find many teachers here and there.
Q: What is the most formidable problem that confronted you?
A: Before 1997 we were ” Languages Center”. So when we became an independent and separate college. We failed to find independent space. Now we are in the Faculty of Law. Some colleges refuse to host us in spite of their vacant halls.
Last year a female engineer designed buildings for the faculty and presented the plan to Mr. Mohammed Al-Maqaleh. He was very helpful and approved it, Inshaa Allah the financial requirements of our campus will be met in next year’s budget 2001/2002.
Q: Are you optimistic about the future of the first batch of the faculty?
A: Surely, we will supply the Yemeni society with excellent and intellectual manpower.
Q: Students of the German Department told us that they’ll need refresher courses after their graduation. What do you say about this?
A: There are three scholarship for the German Department, but in fact we brought native speaking teachers for the German Department and they are well qualified. Besides, every year the three students who score top positions have a chance to get scholarship to Germany to study for a M. A. These scholarships are presented by Germany and the faculty just buys the tickets. But we can’t pay the departure costs.
Q: What about French Department?
A: We have no agreements with the French Embassy because they concern the Faculty of Arts. When we wanted their help they wanted to manage us and it failed.
Q: What abut the teaching of the new languages that will be added in the faculty?
A: We are planning to add new language such as Persian, Turkish, Italian and Hebrew.
In regard to the Italian language it will be started next year as a separate department.
Finally we interviewed the Dean of Faculty of Languages, Dr. Moh’d Daoud
Q: Do you think the present curriculum meets students’ needs?
A: Persons who draw up and choose the courses are all aliens to our nation because these materials are 50 years away from the modern curriculum.
“Our budget doesn’t equal expenses of even one section in other colleges”
Q: where are the language labs you bought before?
A: Our main concern is to have a building for the faculty. When we bought language labs last year from Britain for 40,000 pounds, we couldn’t find enough space for it. So it is now stored in the Faculty of Arts.
Q: We notice that during the pass 4 years there is shortage in seminars. Why does that happen?
A: In the Faculty of Languages, we have the duty to supply all colleges in Sana’a University with language teachers. So we have no time to hold seminars or debates. In addition there is no finance for such things, frankly our budget for the 5 sections doesn’t equal budget of one section in the science faculties.
Q: How do you choose the demonstrators in your faculty?
A: A student who gets the first position will be appointed in his department, if he declines we choose the second. But sometimes we need several demonstrators. So we advertise the press and the media.
Opinions About YEMEN TIMES
“Thank you Yemen Times for supplying us with information about stories, poetry, Yemeni environment, queen Sheeba and Arwa and tourist sites.”
-Dr. M. Daoud, the dean.
“Your propaganda campaigns in the Faculty of Languages proved that there is still someone who thinks seriously to encourage pupils to read. Your special price was happy news not only to the students but also for me.”-Dr. Yusra
“I have been following the Yemen Times since 1992 and I consider it a source of enlightenment.”
-Dr. Saleh A.
“Yemen Times helped me in the beginning of my study and gave me more vocabulary, idioms and some translated verses.” -Najlaa, student
“It has a very nice design and I am sure if I have a good command of English it will be my favorite friend.”-Dr. Abdullamir, Arabic professor.
“Every week I read the Yemen Times to read something I can’t find in other media.”
-Mr. M. Naif.
“I adore Yemen times and I have a comment that ‘Common Sense’, published by Hassan Al Haifi should be simplified because it is not only difficult for students, but for us as well. It must be easy words, not technical words.” -Dr. B. T. Desam
“Yemen Times represents democracy and Human Rights in Yemen and enables us to say anything without panic.”-Ammar Al-Sharafi, Student
“I hope your reports in our esteemed paper makes a great impact on us to improve our studies, publish truths, and combat the nepotism and carelessness here.”
-M. Shamms, Student