How To Teach Arabic As Advised By A Student – Learning Tips

Dina Sarayra 2/18/2020
About Arabic language

For years it has been teachers telling students. Well today, it’s student shine time. As an Arabic-learning student, I will teach you teachers what NOT to do when you are teaching Arabic as a foreign language. This goes out to all the teachers out there from a student who has had the pleasure of learning this intricate language with all its fine details. Everyone open your notebooks and start jotting down these language learning tips.  


As a student, we have enough on our plates. We want to enjoy the university life, go out with friends, actually see family on days other than Fridays, get good grades, and well, you know… learn Arabic! Yes, it is very important to remind us that we need to learn, but do remember that it is NOT the only thing that is in our lives.


Assuming that we have all the brain power to remember and repeat right after you is such a common misconception. It’s problematic too. Not only do you make us feel like we are such failures, but it doesn’t support our learning process whatsoever.


Teaching is not easy, we swear by that too. We understand that we’ll never be able to get that until we are in your shoes (hopefully not) but it truly is so daunting to keep repeating things over and over and over. But the only way for many to learn is through drills. We are sorry that it can be frustrating but we need that habituation before it becomes defaults in our brain system.


We reach levels of mastery of the fundamentals, and we get to the point of the basic phrases of any language, but we screw up at some point and all is lost. Be patient. We interconnect things in a way that make sense to us through our very own understandings, and patience is a virtue. Telling us off at that instant or casually throwing a “You cannot possibly get this wrong!” type of remark, only drowns us further because now we are just thinking of how terrible we are for forgetting the basics!


Diversity in humanity is not just in skin colour and outfits, it’s in the thinking processes too. The old school method of translating and then re-writing the sentence in their head to make it grammatically correct according to, for example, Arabic is an automatic and common characteristic by language learners of any language. People’s brains function differently and whether it is similar to you, as a teacher of Arabic as a foreign language, do keep in mind that we process things differently. 


You know this more than I do: there are different types of learners. Some are visual, others are more auditory, and the list goes on. Obviously we are not going to teach you HOW to analyse your students by figuring out their “type”, but do put that effort of figuring out how they learn best. Trust me; it is easier for and for them. Many students don’t even know that there are types of learners. But guess who does? You do.


Giving quizzes or exams is great but they don’t always serve the purpose. Finland has already made that clear with their perfect education system model. Not everything needs to be “examined” or at least, it does not need to be noted to the student in that manner. Having your examination in secret is not such a bad idea. Students get nervous when exam pops up, so simply don’t mention it. Be like “I want to see how good you can out-do yourself today” and actually conduct an examination that way. You’ll notice the huge difference because now, there are no nerve-wrecking expectations.


We won’t be tough on you in this one, but many teachers fall for this common mistake of writing exams. Learning to read and write Arabic is great but you also need to speak it. Many teachers find it easier to write down an exam or a worksheet and have 90% of the teaching paper-based. That won’t work. Trust me; I have been tried on.


Stop asking me about what I do in my free time and how my family contribute to my future. You really hear a bunch of lies. Netflix and chill is not a good answer, but Netflix has no Arabic translation anyway which doesn’t serve the purpose. These topics are daunting and boring and we are sick of it. Talk about the world, what I think of certain problems, how I want to change the community around me. You know actual conversations about real topics that I haven’t been asked since first grade.


Don’t just tell us how conversations are like, but rather show. Bring a friend and have a conversation with us. It spices up the class and we get to learn so much. You’d be surprised. It gets boring when it’s always one-on-one. Model the speaking and tone so we can copy right back. Monkey say, monkey do!

We love teachers and their nature care-taking demeanour. But nobody is perfect right? We all make mistakes, even teachers!

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