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Abu Dhabi pushes for bilingual public schools

All public school teachers in Abu Dhabi will be expected to be proficient in English by 2016 under a new programme to promote bi-literate education. More than 6,000 teachers across the emirate will undergo weekly training sessions to achieve a minimum required score on the TOEFL or IELTS exam.

Bilingual teaching will be implemented in all grade levels by 2016

Only Arabic language and Islamic studies teachers are exempt from the required English language levels

“While 90 per cent of public school leaders like principals and vice-principals are fluent in English, teachers have so far not been required to demonstrate their knowledge of the language,” Rashid Al Abdouli, professional development specialist at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), told Gulf News.

The English proficiency programme is part of a broader plan to improve education in almost 300 public schools in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates and the second largest principality after Dubai.

Bilingual teaching is currently applied up to grade 5 but by 2016 it will be implemented at all grade levels. Only Arabic language and Islamic studies teachers are exempt from the required English language levels.

“Literacy in both languages is essential to the personal success of Abu Dhabi’s students in both higher education and their future careers,” said ADEC.

The required proficiency scores will depend on the subject taught. Science and maths teachers for example will need to score 5.5 on the IELTS exam, while English language teachers need to reach 6.5 or above.

According to ADEC, while 90% of English language teachers at public schools have the right levels of English, only about 50% of science and maths teachers meet requirements.

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