Jordan’s government is a constitutional monarchy and as of 2016, Abdulla II Bin Al-Hussain is the ruler. With a population of 9.5 million, the majority are concentrated in the capital city Amman (4 million). Previously named Transjordan, Emir Abdulla I established the country after the falling of the Ottoman Empire where the land was divided between Britain and France. It gained independence from Britain on May 25th 1946 and went to become one of the founders of the Arab League.
In Jordan, males and females are segregated. Interactions are limited between the two and males are expected to have minimal communication with females. It is not uncommon to find this separation even in restaurants and most public locations. Women are also expected to be compliant to their husbands’ wishes and decisions therefore this may be a restriction to women to work for example. This is a reflection of a long tradition and any change to that is considered a threat. According to US AID, Jordan has one of the world’s lowest rates of female participation in the workforce, which is a mere 16%.
Marriage is a high priority amongst women but can also be a great implication to her life. Arranged marriages are common and the elder women in the family, deciding the best girl fitting the man, usually start preparations. Often cousins marry each other (especially in Bedouin families) and for a woman, after the marriage, her husband dictates her life mostly. Marriage is a two-steps process starting with an engagement celebration were both the male and female sign the papers dictating that they are officially married. The groom’s family hosts the engagement celebration. This marks the beginning of them dating and getting to know each other. The second step is the wedding celebration where after this; the bride goes to live with her husband. Many couples choose a western look and the bride wears a white dress and the groom wears a black suit. Also note that the husband is free to marry up to four women as in the Hashemite of Jordan, polygamy is legal.
Islam is the religion of 93% of the people living in Jordan, who are mostly located in the south. However, 6% are Christians with 1% for other religions. Although Christians are a minority in this country, “Christians held high-level government and private sector positions” .Also, the Hashemite is home to numerous religious sites that go back to the early days of Jesus. Such places include the church Bethany Beyond the Jordan. This is where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. In addition, there is a small church called Mount Nebo, which has the Ark of Covenant.
The Hashemite of Jordan is an Islamic state however; its constitution protects a person’s freedom of practicing a different religion. But a controversial topic is that of religion conversion. Converting from any religion to Islam is permitted but converting from Islam is dangerous. The danger lays in a person risking losing his civil rights as mentioned in a report from US Department of State. The convert from Islam to Christianity was found guilty of apostasy in 2004. His marriage was voided as well. The converts may be looked down upon in society but on a community level, Christians and Muslims live peacefully without major conflicts..
The Jordanian culture values hospitality. It is very common to just meet a person and that person invites you over to tea and coffee with casual conversations about life, family ,and work. These types of interactions are normal within a strong community like Jordan. At any home, if a guest is scheduled to come soon, the members of the home hold a feast with every kind of foods and drinks, making the experience for the guest as comfortable and pleasant as possible. They take pride in serving the guest and he is not expected to bring anything when coming to visit the home. He is to just come in, get welcomed, eat and enjoy the experience.
One of the most famous dishes that Jordan is known for is called ‘mansaf’. It consists of rice, lamb and jameed. Jameed consists of goat milk, which is made to become like a thick yoghurt paste. This is what gives the mansaf its delicious taste. Jameed is poured on the rice and eaten alongside the lamb of course. Another dish that is attributed to Jordan is ‘maqluba’. This dish also consists of rice and lamb, but is cooked with vegetables. The term ‘maqluba’ literally translates to ‘upside-down’. This refers to how the dish is served where the cooking pot is flipped on to a plate and what was at the bottom of it becomes the top. As it seems, the Jordanian cuisine contains rice in most meals. Eating food is an event that is given importance and it has been also a way to resolve problems with each other; a peace offering.
Deducing from the above paragraph, Jordanian people value hospitality so one of the social norms is to exchange small talk before talking about anything serious or business related. They prefer to gradually build up the conversation by asking about the other person and if everything is fine in their lives or do they have any problems. On another note people from similar sexes greet each other by a handshake and if it is a friendly setting, a kiss on both cheeks may be applicable. However, a male should greet a female only verbally and never be the first to initiate a handshake. He should wait to see if the female is going to put out her hand or be conservative. Also, showing public affection is extremely unusual and may be frowned upon. Even staring at members of the opposite sex is considered improper. As for what is normal regarding dress code, a general rule of thumb is to show minimal skin. This applies to males and females. Shorts and exposing the knee may be looked down on.
Jordanian people speak Arabic as their first language however, there are three main dialects which are: urban, rural and Bedouin Jordanian. The rural dialect is spoken by people who come from the villages and Bedouin dialect is spoken by people who live in the east of the country, in the desert. The urban dialect emerged as a result from a mix of dialects spoken by people who came to Amman the capital city from the north. Some Arabic words are replaced by English words even though there is a perfectly fine Arabic translation of it. Also, in Jordanian Arabic a syllable in each word is stressed on more than the others. For example “[‘katabu] means they wrote while [kata’bu] means they wrote it”
There are two types of Jordanians, ones that come from Palestinian origins and other who are considered ‘real Jordanians’. Palestinian Jordanians may be inferior to the others who view themselves as superior but stereotyping is hardly spoken out. This creates social pressures and some Jordanians actually claim that they are not being appointed in sensitive positions in the government because of this matter.
Classroom implications / Education System
Teaching a second language is always influenced by the socio-cultural factors therefore It is really important to have some ideas and information about the students’ background before you start teaching them. Jordan is one of the Arabic countries that uses English as a second language and English is considered highly significant in Jordan. In Jordan most people start learning English in the primary school, like any other Arabic country the bilingual education is offered by the privet schools only. The English language is really important to finish higher education and get a good job in Jordan.
There are some challenges that might face the Arabic speaker when learning English. The first and most remarkable challenge is the different writing system and the different grammar structure that is used in Arabic. The Arabic speakers write from right to left and make them do the opposite might cause some problem for them before they get used to it. When translating from Arabic to English literal translation is always wrong. Arabic speakers get some information reversed. In teaching a language we usually focus on the four known skills; reading, writing, speaking and listening. To teach reading to an Arab student the teacher should keep in mind many things and could use the following method to get the results and the wanted progress. The teacher should revise the alphabets with the student and should encourage the student to read silently and then loudly just to give the student time to make sure he /she can pronounce the word. An Arab student do not really like to pronounce or read incorrectly. Encourage the student to write the words and repeat them many times. Do not start by teaching the prescribed syllabus, this would confuse the student since there is no such element in the Arabic language. Teaching writing can be very challenging sometimes. for an Arab students the first thing to approach is the writing style. The teacher should teach the student how to write from left to right. Arabs do not know cursive writing, the teacher should keep this in mind and should spend some time to teach the students. When teaching Arab to write, it is preferably to start teach them to write short sentences and then long so they could gradually progress. Spelling can cause a problem for Arab students because of the silent letters. For spelling issues, the teacher should encourage the students to write more and more so they can get used to the spelling. Practice is highly recommended. To some extent, speaking is the easiest skill to teach an Arab because they can easily pronounce almost all the letters but some of them have Problems with the letters “V”, “p”. The role of the teacher in teaching speaking is very essential. The student will try to imitate the way the teacher is speaking, most of the students do not have the access to hear English from native speakers . The teacher which is the model for the students should encourage students to speak up and have confidence in themselves because they might be shy some times. The teacher should correct the students but they would prefer not to correct them in front of others. The teacher should direct the students to some extra resources where they can practice to speak like the websites that offers the opportunity to speak to native speakers and interact with them. Give the students the chance to prepare by giving them heads up on what they are going t take next class. The Arab students love to be prepared. Listening is very important skill as well. The teacher should provide the students with good speaking and pronunciation models. The teacher should expose the Arab students to many different accents. The teacher should make the students listen to as much English as they can because their ears should get used to it. The speed is another important elements in listening. The teacher could make the students listen to different speed and check if they can understand and get the information. For instance, the teacher could make the students listen to a lecture, an informal conversation, radio program where people talk with different speed. As an Arabic teacher who teaches SLA I have almost a good idea on how to deal with Arabic students in class since I was in the same situation. I think that Arabic students are very smart but they need a lot of work to achieve and master the English language. As mentioned above, Arabic students need to work on their confidence, most of the time they know the answer and they fully understand what have been said but they do not like to speak up or respond so the teacher would assume that they do not know the answer. I f the teacher knew how to make the student speak up then they are half way there. The student would work more on other aspects rather than concentrating on their own mistakes and on being shy. Being friendly and helpful is highly recommended because student will feel more comfortable if you did that and they would interact more in class.