By Susan Ali and Adam Kaddoura
Read this story in Arabic…
There are few languages in the world that have as many substantial benefits in our modernizing world as Arabic. It’s spoken by more than 420 million people natively: from Algeria on the west coast of Northern Africa to Iraq, in ancient Mesopotamia.
Arabic is considered one of the widely spoken languages in the world and has been spoken for more than 20 centuries. Perhaps for this reason or others, you are among many that have yet to speak Arabic but are eager to learn it.
However, we must first examine our perception of schools, where Arabic is taught. We can’t seem to imagine anything other than a traditional school, with students lined in a row after a row before the teacher, as if he was reading some lifeless book out load, lacking both taste and color.
This confrontation with the reality of this outdated schooling and our acceptance of it leads to one conclusion: there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to learning. This realization has led us to redesign our programs and innovate the framework PTP©.
Some call what we realized a moment of truth. We call it our farewell to an era of easy solutions and the beginning of endless challenges. Curriculums have become been developed for both companies and individuals, who are both Eastern and Western. These programs have been divided into elementary and complementary. The tracks from the flipped classroom to the most challenging one (the no-homework track!)
So even with the most basic programs and pre-designed plans, you will be able to address critical challenges at your personal level with a wide range of combinations that balances your availability and budget. Once you have identified your goals for learning the language, and the time you can dedicate to completing homework and learning sessions, you can literally begin to practice from day one.
Then, if the basic set up doesn’t fit your unique needs or abilities, the counseling unit is ready to customize any component based on your learning style, background, and various tests to make your learning experience a truly meaningful one.
However, nothing in this booklet will last for more than eighteen months –As the previous editions– so the R&D team guides us to next steps before preparing our next booklet to read and interpret the data about our students and our own performance, data that continues to grow even as I write these words.
We couldn’t stop at this point in our quest to change the image of the traditional class, so we drove ourselves to refute and scrutinize everything that is said and written during a class period. It is no longer acceptable to study standard Arabic alone, even though it opens up vast resources and has tremendous scholars. It isn’t wise to respond to the desire of Muslim scholars to only learn the classical Arabic, in order to read the Koran first and foremost and isolate them from those non-Muslims who wish to learn about spoken dialects. To learn to talk with us about their diaries, their dreams, and their jokes.
Instead, we have centered the diglossia phenomenon in our language and built the foundation programs around it to bridge the gap between the two registers. This would ideally allow for a moderate acceleration between understanding and speaking the language and learning the Classical Arabic and the spoken dialects, employing a wise balance between them. We believe that this balance has happened! The case study: “Russian in the Land of Sand” is the best proof of our initial speculation and results.
And, since learning isn’t just what happens in the classroom, it is no longer a burden on our curriculum writers nor our students to open up for those additional courses such as (from the practical life) as we call it in Arabic, or literally “streetwise”.
This logo, which they see daily on our streets-and when they hail one- is no longer just a logo, but an Arabic word that our students had to spell with their mind-eyes first:
As is the case with our courses on Arab culture and extracurriculars:
This was the work of one of our students who was supposed to photo shoot Arabic signs. in the streets
Then to record what they read, so we integrate audio and video so we proudly display on their Learning Management System page.
As a natural extension of what we do when we learn a new language!
Don’t we all want to do this to show off our newfound language skill?
Finally, our hypothesis of the Active Skill Cycle © is the core of the course, which we call “A better learner by You”, shall provide you with a practical guide to the best practices to make language acquisition a second nature.
We can say that “A Better Learner by You” course is the most up-to-date with our research, as it includes the summation of our Research and Development finding in fields like applied linguistics, cognitive linguistics, and learner psychology. This is put into simple, specific, and practical steps to enable you to apply the best practices found from this research. We give this course to all our students after they complete forty hours of study in any program they have enrolled in because there is no acceptable compromise when it comes to learning.
As we test that course on ourselves first, we are now in the midst of upgrading our curricula, which we train our native Arab teachers with, to enable our students who speak other languages to teach Arabic to their peers for the same mother tongue and help them learn as they learned, and learn from them as they learned from us..
This process took to arrive at the mission statement of The Arabic Institute wasn’t time-consuming, even our slogan ‘Because Understanding means Harmony, was an idea born from a conversation we had over a quiet dinner that I remember the little details even now. Although our vision is still clear, “to be the first to hear your Arabic words :)”, our vision statement, took a year of continuous thinking.
It is not only the challenges that come with Arabism and traditional education that wakes us in the early morning and keeps us awake until late but also that passion that we share to learn more about the language, about you, and about ourselves.
This is just the beginning. The best is yet to come.