Saudi Arabia introduces first standardised test for non-Arabic speakers

Much like TOEFL and IELTS, the new test is designed to assist in improving Arabic language qualifications

Al Ruwais Primary Boys School students work on writing problems during an Arabic language class on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011 at the school's campus in Ruwais. (Silvia Razgova/The National)
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The King Salman Global Academy for the Arabic Language, in co-operation with Saudi Arabia’s Education and Training Evaluation Commission, on Monday introduced the first standardised test to assess proficiency in Arabic.

The test, which is in its first phase, has been designed for non-native students of Arabic language in Saudi, regional and international universities.

It will also serve a training tool for organisations that recruit non-native Arabic speakers employed in Arabic-speaking countries.

The tests were created in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, and Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, Minister of Culture, wrote on Twitter that testing will help to raise abilities and levels of qualification in Arabic, helping to meet the kingdom's Vision 2030 development and diversification goals.

In line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages​​ (CEFR) standards, the test has been designed to establish a standardised method to measure the level of all Arabic language skills, in reading, writing, listening and conversation, in keeping with the best international practices.

Saudi Arabia is home to about 35 million people, of which 13.5 million are foreign residents.

English is widely spoken, but officials are concerned about the potential decline of Arabic - a common worry across the Gulf nations.

Prince Badr said that those who take the test will receive a certificate as proof of their linguistic capabilities and Arabic-language skills, similar to those provide by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

The test has been compiled by a group of leading academics, experts in applied linguistics, and measurement and evaluation professionals.

The test is considered the first of its kind, as there has been no reliable standardised competency assessment for non-native Arabic speakers at this level of proficiency.

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Updated: June 14, 2022, 11:54 AM
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