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Teaching Writing in UAE Part III: Rhetorical and Syntactical Structures

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In my final blog on teaching English in the United Arab Emirates, you will learn about the challenges of teaching rhetorical and syntactical structures in the UAE.

Punctation – Teaching Writing in the UAE

Modern Arabic has adopted a system of punctuation not too different from that used in the English language, yet Arabic punctuation rules are still not as restrictive as in English. Some of my students need foundational instruction on the usage rules for common punctuation marks and the conventions that attend them, such as capitalization. While others have learned the rules but inconsistently apply them, requiring more coaching than anything.

Sentence Structure – Teaching Writing in the UAE

My students’ problems with sentence structure do not stop at simple confusion over punctuation usage. Arabic rhetorical practice also commonly interferes with the production of structurally correct sentences in English. Run-on sentences are the biggest problem for ESL students in the United Arab Emirates.

In Arabic rhetoric you can load a sentence with several grammatically complete ideas. It all linked together with the Arabic equivalent of ‘and’, and it’s acceptable. I encounter this in my students’ writing often. And also, as a quick remedy, I simply advise them to limit each sentence to two independent ideas.

To foster lasting understanding I have to provide more in-depth instruction and ample practice, especially once we get into subordination; otherwise, the looser usage rules in Arabic may begin to win out once again.

I hope you enjoyed my articles on building rapport with ESL students. Use the Communicative Approach, using L1, and teaching writing skills.

-TESOL Expert article by 250-hour TESOL Diploma graduate teaching English with ADEC in Al Ain, UAE.

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