The Faculty of Language Studies (FLS) was established in 2002, at the very start of the Arab Open University (AOU).
At present, it offers a BA Programme (Hons) in English Language and Literature (ELL) in all AOU branches and a BA Programme (Hons) in English Language and Literature with Translation track (ELLT) in two branches and soon in other branches. As of the first semester, 2012, FLS started offering an MA Programme in English Literature at the AOU/Jordan Branch. AOU/Egypt Branch started offering the same Program as of spring semester 2017/18. Other branches are in the process of seeking local accreditation prior to offering the programme. The three programmes are based on core courses derived from the Open University UK and use textbooks, support materials, and approaches of the highest international standards. Demand on the three prestigious programmes is growing, since they are relevant not only to students' intellectual and knowledge growth, but also to their career needs.
BA Programmme (Hons) in English Language & Literature
While the first programme – English Language and Literature – is essentially made up of courses within the traditional, interrelated realms of language, literature and linguistics, it does venture also into the spheres of discourse analysis, pragmatics and culture. Clearly, a BA programme in English Language and Literature enables graduates of the programme to be competent in the fields of linguistics and English Literature, two fields essential to any intellectual, well-rounded person's education. They are also essential to any society's needs, given that English literature has actually expanded over the years to include all literatures written in (or even translated into) English. Such crucial development comes with the aim of catering for students' global education and outlook – a must in today's world. In addition, a degree in language and literature also qualifies students for the workplace. Graduates of literature, linguistics and translation develop a command of the language that transcends their specific fields of study to include the language of journalism, media, the marketplace, politics, etc. After all, a programme in English Language and Literature graduates students in possession of excellent language communication skills, both oral and written.
The translation track which is being offered in two branches at this point: Lebanon and Palestine, and soon in the other branches, came as answer to market needs.
At the postgraduate level, FLS is beginning to introduce MA programmes which are attractive to students and give them an edge in the workplace. The first of these is an MA in English Literature, which is open to students in the two branches of Jordan as of 2012, and Egypt 2016. Another potential programme is an MA in TEFL, which has been requested by some branches like KSA and Jordan. The programme's necessary documents have been prepared and scheduled to be validated by the OU in March 2019 and it is planned to be offered as of September 2019. An MA programme in translation is in the offing also, as there is a great demand for it both in the market and in society.
English Language Unit (ELU)
To enhance the student's English in the said programmes, FLS also houses the English Language Unit which is primarily responsible for both the Orientation & Foundation programmes. These two programmes, which the students normally take in their first-year, are tailored for students who enrol at the university, with the dual aim of working on their problem areas in English and on enhancing their English communication skills, to enable them to pursue their studies at AOU successfully and to prepare them for the workplace later. ELU is also responsible for implementing the English Placement Test (EPT) and a host of activities which support remedial English-language learning. In addition to the orientation and foundation program courses, the Unit is entrusted with supervising and and administering the Arabic language courses. Such courses include “Communication Skills in Arabic I & II (AR111 and AR112) in addition to Arabic as a Foreign Language (AFL).
FLS prides itself on having tutors who are extremely competent in methods of open and blended learning, and of the material taught in their courses. They constantly challenge their students to new horizons of thinking and knowledge beyond their competence in their fields of specialisation and diligence. The tutors are also extremely supportive of students, always going out of their way to make students feel welcome and to offer prompt assistance when needed. FLS will continue to hire outstanding tutors, with relevant experience, expertise and outstanding records.
FLS faculty members devote a great deal of time to tutoring. After all, helping our students learn, develop and excel is our major task. Nevertheless, FLS tutors devote additional time and effort to research, which is an important part of the mission of AOU. They author and publish individual and joint research in refereed journals of the best standards. While much of the research focuses on knowledge that is viable in the international arena (as any research should), much of it also aims to serve concerns of the Arab-Islamic nation – with specific reference to the Arabic language, Arabic literature and Arab culture. After all, our university is a significant “pan-Arab" initiative, established (in part) with the aim of espousing matters directly pertaining to the Arab nation.
Continuous Growth and Development
Though still young with only sixteen years in action, FLS is growing and developing with the aim of both matching developments in our fast-changing world, and catering to the diverse and ever-expanding needs of learners, wherever they are and no matter what their level in English is. A host of new programmes and activities is in the making, and they will be announced in due time.
Students Ready to Take the Challenge
FLS, like AOU at large, attracts students with great aspirations who value independent, open education. There is no doubt that face-to-face learning has its own value. However, it has its limitations. Too much of it tends to make students too reliant on tutors, which results in spoon-feeding and dependence on personal contact. This is why FLS champions on-line independent learning, which not only weans students from tutors, but also builds on students' own motivation to learn. Self-learning is the most effective form of learning because, among other things, it capitalises on students wanting to learn. Yet, FLS, again like AOU, offers both face-to-face (25%) and self-learning (75%) – what we refer to as blended learning. Many of our students are mature students, who at once pursue a career and seek continuous growth.
Sustainable International Partenerships
FLS is proud of the fact that it is strongly affiliated with the OU-UK, which validates, accredits and assesses FLS education. And this, indeed, is a major source of our strength. But FLS also seeks partnerships with other HE institutions in the region with similar vision and mission, and with international institutions from both East and West. In a world which has become visibly multicultural and global, global partnerships are a must – sharing experience and cooperating on several specific initiatives, projects and programmes.