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Teachers speaking Arabic? Poll

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Teachers: Do you speak Arabic in your classroom?
I can barely say "hello"
 0%  [ 0 ]
I can say a few words
 0%  [ 0 ]
I can give a baby-talk explanation
 0%  [ 0 ]
I can get by without major problems
 100%  [ 1 ]
I can explain Chomsky in Arabic
 0%  [ 0 ]
none of the above
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 1

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Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 2:33 pm    Post subject: Teachers speaking Arabic? Poll Reply with quote

Most teachers I know here speak very little to zero Arabic. Opinions vary among teachers about whether it's a good thing or not to know the L1. Personally,I think both students and teachers have to work a little harder when the L1 isn't spoken by the teacher. But, this isn't my question.
By now, you've been here for a while. You know something of the language. Do you use it in class? What words or phrases do you use? (in your reply, spelling does NOT count)
For instance, if a class gets a little rowdy, I firmly state "Halas! Bes!" and when they are going too slowly I tweak them with "Yellah! Yellah!" There is the ubiquitous "Kief halak?" and you should have a ready response. But, do you use other Arabic phrases in your classroom? What are they and when do you say them? Or are you a fluent or semi-fluent Arabic speaker? What, if any, Arabic do you use?
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Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 17644
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Carnac,

Just like all polls, even with all those choices I would be somewhere between getting along and baby-talk. All the Arabic that I know came from living in Cairo for a few years. There you do need it to survive - dealing with taxis, shopping, boabs, cleaners. But, I learned it as I went along - from my students and whoever. In the Gulf, there is really little reason to learn Arabic as you so rarely get to use it.

As to classroom use, I was fortunate to usually be working with fellow teachers who were native speakers of Arabic. I used them as my contrastive analysis teachers. They were a wonderful resource to explain why the students had those ever present problems. I do think it helps to be able to point out to students things such as in Arabic you would say 'the life' but that in English the use of the 'the' gives it a particular meaning. It really helped me to direct my lessons and I think the students found it helpful. And, they were always amazed at what I knew - and it often sparked a heated debate on what was correct Arabic. Laughing This was particularly helpful since I usually taught writing.

As to my speaking it in class, it was only to amuse them. Not to mention that I mostly use Egyptian dialect, which they found even funnier. (soap opera speech!!) BTW, I only used 'halas' to end a class. What their mothers would use to stop misbehavior is 'bes.' Another thing that I would do was make a response (usually in English) to something they had been discussing in Arabic before or after class. This was quite effective in putting a bit of a scare in them as they never really knew exactly how much Arabic I could understand. Cool They don't realize that students the world over tend to have the same discussions, so all I needed to understand was a word here or there.

Because I was always teaching university level, I don't think that there should be any other Arabic used in class. (only polite greetings and to bring in humor) They hear little enough English as it is. But, I must admit that often while teaching vocabulary I wished that I knew enough Arabic to know if they had the correct meaning in mind of the more complicated conceptual words.

I too was shocked at the complete lack of knowledge about Arabic of my fellow teachers. People who had been teaching writing in the Gulf for over 10 years and didn't know the rules of full-stop/comma use in Arabic or that what we call a run-on or comma splice is a perfectly wonderful sentence in Arabic. Teachers who have been there for years and still mix up 'insha'allah' and 'il'hamdulillah' Smile

Even 3 years after retiring and coming home, those last two still sneak out quite often. Of course, no one here has a clue.

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Joined: 27 Sep 2004
Posts: 150

PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2004 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I studied Arabic on my own for over a year and now I can speak daily phrases, compose pretty "correct" sentences and am at an upper elementary level.

If allowed, I used dictionaries in class to help translate difficult words. "If allowed" is the key phrase.

Some colonially-minded former teachers who never deign to learn foreign languages and become supervisors strictly prohibit their subordinates from using L1 in the classroom. This is imperialistic, colonialistic and backward, in my opinion. But these guys are still doing great- they get great positions, big salaries, etc.

My knowledge of basic Arabic has not helped me get a better job yet. It has indeared me with the people around, though.

In the case I even have a supervisor like that, I will keep my head down and avoid using L1. If they hear me speak/use Arabic, they may get jealous and feel inadequate and even try to get me fired. So, I play it by ear.

I personally find the policy if never using "language one" in the classroom only appropriate if you are in the US and you have mixed-nationality classes. If you are in their country, a dictionary is not only desirable but necessary.

Many words are hard to explain and it saves time if you use a dictionary. How can one explain words such as "sincerity" and "vicissitudes"?

And most languages have their own equivalents of most English words. It may be disrespectful to the culture of the host country to deny any access to any kind of translation from or to L1.
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