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A different thread on teaching Arabic speakers

 
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Ixchel



Joined: 11 Mar 2003
Posts: 153
Location: The 7th level of hell

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:27 pm    Post subject: A different thread on teaching Arabic speakers Reply with quote

I can't remember where I came across a thread on teaching writing to Arabic university students recently. VS and someone else had some excellent books which I added to my cart on Amazon.

There has been a discussion about how speaking is not a problem but writing is.

There are a lot of very experienced instructors on the ME forums. I would like to ask your thoughts on teaching English to native Arabic speakers. This is not really about classroom management or teaching men v. women but if you have any thoughts on that, I'd be interested to hear them.

Lessons: what worked and what didn't? Any favorite activities/lessons/games? Recommendations for other supplementary materials?

[Off-topic: I tried to post some of my lesson plans/ideas on here and it says they aren't accepting new posts until 2008?] But in any case I'm looking for more specific ideas for ME Arabic speakers. Thanks in advance.
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Jessiemiles



Joined: 07 Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Location: Home

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I taught academic writing courses to upper level Arabic speaking students for two and a half years.
I found that teaching parts of speech, affixes, and word families and having students keep a vocabulary list and daily or weekly journal were very useful. The journals weren't graded but students received a mark for complete or incomplete entries. I collected the journals and made lists of common errors for 'common mistakes' lessons. The student examples were always anonymous. When going over the common mistakes, I pointed out the fact that these were Arabic speaking learners mistakes' and that they were difficult for most Arabic learners of English.

It was very important to provide a clear model of the target structure/writing pattern and to engage the students in discussion and a reading exercise prior to any formal writing. For example, if we were studying comparison/contrast essay structure, I'd assign a comparison/contrast journal entry the week before beginning the structure. In the first class, we'd have small group discussions where I'd ask students to share their journals, then we'd discuss as a class and generate student examples. I'd hand out a short compare/contrast essay and have the students read, either aloud or individually, then work in pairs to answer questions. For homework I'd assign a longer essay with questions before having students examine the structure more closely and come up with their own topics.

This type of basic writing lesson is not all that different from how I approached writing with any other group of students. However, for Arabic speaking students, sentence structure, pronoun use, and punctuation are common problems, as well as clarity and organization. There are also common spelling errors, depending on the level. It was important to focus on points of difficulty for Arabic speakers and to repeat. It was also important to break down structures, from sentence to paragraph to essay, and not assume that the students knew what I expected.

Most importantly overall, I had to push and push and push to get the students to write. I had to assign writing homework and insist the students complete it. Then I had to re-assign that writing homework and re-insist the students complete it. Often, I had to allow for time to go over and/or complete homework in class. Eventually I began using more class time than I'd wanted to for in-class writing exercises to encourage the students to write and to be able to have writing samples I knew weren't plagiarisms.

With time I developed strategies to coping with the work ethic of some of my students and techniques to teaching the language group. The more I learned about the Arabic language and the culture of my students, the better I was able to work with them. The following links discuss differences between Arabic and English, look at some difficulties for Arabic speakers learning English, and make suggestions on how to treat problem areas.

http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/arabic.htm

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED360876&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED360876

http://www.slideshare.net/spacke/teaching-arabic-speakers-linguistic-and-cultural-considerations-shira-packer

http://teaching.monster.com/benefits/articles/10068-5-writing-trouble-spots-for-esl-students-of-arabic
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Ixchel



Joined: 11 Mar 2003
Posts: 153
Location: The 7th level of hell

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent, thank you.
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