By Sindith Küster*
Arabic language educators came together during QFI’s Spring Conference in Germany on April 24, 2021, to discuss topics related to teaching Arabic as a foreign language and a heritage language within the German school system and in weekend programs. Due to the COVID pandemic, the conference was held online via zoom.
How have we coped with teaching Arabic during the pandemic, and what tools do we have available to help students learn reading and writing online? Is there a playful way to learn vocabulary? How can teachers incorporate cultural topics into the Arabic language classroom?
The artist and calligrapher Daniel Arab introduced Arabic calligraphy and calligraffiti with many practical tips for students to learn the “art of writing.”
His work is influenced by street and graffiti art which he encountered in his youth in the streets of Tripoli. As a German-Lebanese artist, he later founded his studio “Colorblind Patterns” in Berlin.
During his presentation, Mr. Arab did a demonstration with Madar AlHuruf, the Q-Wheel app, which is now available for download in German. The Q-Wheel allows users to transliterate their names from Latin to Arabic letters easily. It is a fun tool for anyone unfamiliar with the Arabic alphabet.
Daniel Arab’s calligraphy courses will be available again after COVID in his Berlin studio.
Playing with Arabic Vocabulary
Paula Roetscher, an Arabic teacher at Salzmannschule, the language specialist school in the federal state of Thuringia, introduced Arabic teachers to tools to help teach Arabic writing online and games to make learning Arabic vocabulary fun.
Shahir Nashed, also a teacher at Salzmannschule, showed how to incorporate cultural topics into the Arabic language classroom. We loved seeing him use traditional dress and use items such as a fez or a hand puppet to indicate story-telling time to his lower grade-level students.
Aicha Hamdani from Arabischlehrer*innen Verein, the Berlin Teacher Council, talked about teaching how to read Arabic to young learners. Mrs. Hamdani used the opportunity to address Arabic teachers and encourage them to join Arabischleher*innen Verein. More details about projects and events are available on their website.
Dr. Peter Konerding from Fachverband Arabisch in Bamberg stressed the importance of solid lesson planning and gave practical tips for the Arabic classroom. Dr. Konerding was instrumental in organizing an Arabic teacher training workshop in 2020. You can find information about upcoming events on the Fachverband website.
Carola Kamil Abdusalam and Michaela Schmitt-Reiners presented their project, which aims to establish a bilingual school (Arabic/ German) in Bonn. There are bilingual schools for languages such as French, Spanish, or Italian or language European School, emphasizing modern foreign languages. However, there is neither a bilingual German-Arabic School in Germany nor a European School that teaches Arabic within the regular school curriculum. Together with the audience, they discussed the challenges, from building to budget.
Connect and Collaborate
Participants included Arabic Educators from schools and Arabic Heritage Speaker Programs in the various federal states in Germany and Arabic lecturers from universities. We were extremely happy that a German-speaking Arabic teacher joined us from Latakia in Syria.
After more than a year of COVID regulations, we expected our audience to tire to the zoom format, but the opposite was the case. “Arabic teachers in Germany desire opportunities to connect and collaborate, and this conference provided just that.” P.Roetscher, Salzmannschule.
Some of the presentations are available in the QFI Webinars Gallery.
Building on our existing relationship, QFI partnered with Expolingua, Germany’s biggest modern language and cultural fair in Berlin, to organize the QFI Spring Conference 2021.
“We have established a strong partnership with QFI to support events for Arabic Teachers, promote Arabic Teacher Training in Germany, and to make Arabic Language and Culture more visible to German Society,” said Sebastian Schattenmann, CEO of Expolingua.
QFI and Expolingua are also partners in a series of webinars about Arabic language education. Recording of previous events is available in the QFI Webinars Gallery.
*Sindith Küster is QFI’s Germany Consultant