An accidental click on the Al Jazeera Arabic Language page I had bookmarked on my ipad was a fortunate one as the news channel was advertising their stand at the Language Show Live 2014. As a keen linguist who pursued two languages at university, naturally, an entire weekend devoted to languages, the learning and teaching of it at all levels was something to look forward to.
The Arabic department at Al Barakah masha Allah has a watsapp group where we share our resources and advertise events such as these. My mother (a native Arabic speaker) and I went along on Sunday with the aim to represent the Arabic department and to share what we had learned with our colleagues. With a goal in mind, it was easy to remain focused and yet still think laterally as we perused the aisles where Modern Foreign languages were the main focus.
Only a handful of the 130 exhibitors were Arabic language focused and they were: Al Jazeera, The Egyptian Embassy stand, the Anglo-Arabic Company (creators of the “Gateway to Arabic” series) and the SOAS stall where Ilham Salimane – course coordinator of the Diploma to Teach Arabic as a Foreign Language was at. Still, it was inspiring to see that Arabic had been represented and represented well. Alhamdolillah!
First off, we headed to the Al Jazeera stand but noticed the Egyptian Embassy one where many books related to Arabic teaching were displayed. The total lack of engagement from the stall exhibitors quickly reminded us that we had limited time and lots to explore.
The Al Jazeera stand was where the exhibitor couldn’t wait to speak to us, we were talked through how to use the website created for Muslims in the West who want to read and understand the news headlines and Arabic articles on AL Jazeera in a little more depth. Using the articles as a springboard to learn vocabulary and grammar is an excellent way of engaging with the language and seeing it used as it is in daily life.
The website caters for different levels of students, has many interactive activities and best of all gives the learners the opportunity to learn the correct pronunciation. I may just email the link to the parents of my classes or the older students who may want to pursue independent Arabic learning.
verbMaps was another excellent concept where the exhibitor explained how learners of say French are taught verbs by learning the process used to arrive at the correct form. Meaning, the student is taught the process to change a verb into the past, present and future tense for different speakers rather than sitting there staring at a table.
We agreed that it was an excellent idea and obviously our brains were working out how we could manipulate this concept to fit into the Arabic verbal root system. One of the best things about teaching at Al Barakah is that we are always reminded to check whether our students are learning actively – using a concept such as verbMaps turns Arabic verb learning on its head. I am excited to teach it to my classroom in the next few classes.
Another excellent concept was the PostIt notes with vocabulary printed on it. It is sold by a company called Flashsticks who’ve obviously teamed up with Post-it to deliver this language resource. Clever indeed!
The pink for feminine nouns and blue for masculine nouns. The concept is more than that – the children have to scan the postit note with their ipad and the app that accompanies this product will open up a video with the word’s pronunciation. The Arabic version of this product is not out yet but I guess we can manipulate this concept for activities around masculine/feminine nouns, definite/indefinite nouns, sun/moon letters and much more. I’ll be making use of Postit notes a lot more insha Allah.
I restocked my own personal Arabic library with the Gateway to Arabic series books 3-7 which masha Allah are an absolutely amazing resource. I wish I had bought them earlier while I was learning Arabic as it breaks down difficult Arabic concepts into bitesize pieces. I would highly recommend this series for English speakers looking to learn Arabic.
We also bought some recently published books from Lebanon solely focused on explaining short Surahs in a story like way. It is children’s tafsir in Arabic basically. We bought the whole set and will be using them in our classrooms to help the students engage with Arabic – to make them feel like they can read Arabic and understand some of it.
I absolutely love this series as it complements the Al Barakah Arabic departments’ focus on teaching Qur’anic Arabic. Great find mum!
Lastly, just before we had our lunch, customary dates and tea (we’re Arabic teachers after all!) I picked up Linguascopes’s famous verb wheel that deals with irregular verbs. This is what it looks like:
I think it’s a great idea and I am looking at ways to use this concept with Arabic. Perhaps with Arabic verbs in the past form and their meaning. Or even simply, with the vocabulary of a particular Surah. A quick Google search led me to the free graphic organisers offered by the Enchanted Learning site and they can be used to make this in the classroom. Alhamdolillah.
I feel privileged and honoured to have been blessed by Allah to teach his Book to young people. Oh Allah, use us to spread your deen and make our work purely for Your sake! Ameen.