Tag: curriculum development

  • Does a multidialectal approach mean teaching all of the dialects?

    Does a multidialectal approach mean teaching all of the dialects?

    This is a question I get frequently when I advocate for a multidialectal approach to learning Arabic. The short answer is no.

    The longer answer is also no, but with a much lengthier explanation, which I thought I’d give in this post. In general, there are two types of people who ask this question. The first category is those who want to discredit dialect teaching completely (every village has its own dialect, how can you possibly choose, MSA is the answer). The second category is people who find the idea appealing, but the process confusing (does this mean teaching every word in major dialect groups? Isn’t that a lot to ask of students? How do you do this all in class?) This post is aimed at that second category, as those coming from the first have an ideological perspective I will always be at odds with.

  • Virtual Exchange with the Stevens Initiative COILed Classrooms

    Virtual Exchange with the Stevens Initiative COILed Classrooms

    In addition to all of the other excitement this semester, I’ve also been participating in a virtual exchange program with our fourth semester Arabic class, through the Stevens Initiative Connected Classrooms program. While I’ve done virtual exchange before, it’s generally been pairing my students with individual language partners, rather than a classroom. So, I thought I’d use this post to share my experience with this project.

  • The energy drain of the language enrollments issue

    The energy drain of the language enrollments issue

    In two previous posts, I’ve addressed structural aspects of the language enrollments issue as well as some ideas on what language teachers can control. In this post, I want to address a final aspect of this issue: energy, and the energy-draining nature of being asked to justify a central part of one’s existence.

  • The enrollments issue: What can language teachers do?

    The enrollments issue: What can language teachers do?

    Two weeks ago, I wrote a post on structural aspects of the language issue, and promised a future one on things that I think are within language teacher’s control, and that we can work on. Today, I’m back with that post. I have to admit this one was kind of a struggle, as most of the ideas I think could be effective are still difficult to implement in institutional settings (or at least the ones I’m familiar with). I’ve also divided this up into three parts: ideas I think are terrible, ideas I think could be effective but struggle to implement, and ideas that I think are more likely to be successful (sort of). I guess you can see already what I think about this topic 🥲

  • Structural Aspects of the Language Enrollments Issue

    Structural Aspects of the Language Enrollments Issue

    In response to the problem of declining enrollments in language classes, the message given to teachers is “get your enrollments up!” While this may seem like an obvious solution, it actually creates even more anxiety and frustration as it is a request for overloaded language teachers to take on additional work, in which they have no training, in an environment in which many structural factors are out of their control.

  • We Can Learn Arabic Website: Spring Update

    We Can Learn Arabic Website: Spring Update

    Last Fall, I mentioned that my colleagues Heather Sweetser, Abdullah Serag, and I had launched We Can Learn Arabic, an open access website for Arabic learners at beginning and intermediate levels. This is the culmination of six years of moving away from a textbook in our lower level classes, as well as many of the research inspirations I’ve discussed on this blog, including multilingual and genre-based approaches and genre-based approaches. We’ve now been using the website in our classrooms for almost 1.5 semesters, so I thought I’d give an update on how it’s worked, improvements we’ve made, and plans for the future.

  • Introducing: the We Can Learn Arabic website!

    Introducing: the We Can Learn Arabic website!

    As I’ve detailed in my curriculum development posts over the last two years, we have slowly been replacing our textbook with our own materials, generally based on texts we find on the internet or create ourselves. Although I’ve frequently been asked when we will make our own textbook, I’ve actually never been interested in making a textbook–my dream has always been to create an open access website that serves as a textbook in the sense that it provides materials and structure, but is also flexible enough to be adapted by teachers in a variety of contexts.

    Today, I’m excited to announce that my dream has come true, in the form of the We Can Learn Arabic website! In this post, I’ll describe what we’ve done so far, as well as some future plans for the site. While we use it in place of a textbook, it could also be used alongside a particular textbook or materials of choice.

  • Plurilingual and Translanguaging Approaches in the Intermediate Arabic Classroom

    Plurilingual and Translanguaging Approaches in the Intermediate Arabic Classroom

    Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Intercultural Communication Conference in Tucson put on by CERCLL. I presented with my colleague Heather Sweetser on our attempts to implement plurilingual and translanguaging approaches in our Intermediate Arabic classroom, and will summarize this presentation in this post.

  • Are monolingual models making us ask the wrong questions? Translanguaging in the language classroom.

    Are monolingual models making us ask the wrong questions? Translanguaging in the language classroom.

    (ACTFL), and then for the Arabic Language Conference at AUC, I’ve been having conversations with language teachers (mostly Arabic ones) about translanguaging in the classroom, and why I think it’s so important that we take this perspective.  Or why, even if you don’t want to take a translanguaging perspective, it’s important to realize that you are taking a perspective (probably a monolingual one), and this upholds certain types of language ideologies.  Mostly, I think we need to ask ourselves different questions about our teaching, a point I’ll return to after revisiting the concept of translanguaging.  

  • Curriculum Development: Event Planning Take 2

    Curriculum Development: Event Planning Take 2

    Last year, I blogged about the creation of our party planning unit in second year Arabic, including some of the challenges. Since we are on the verge of creating the second round of this unit, I thought I would give an update on how it is going this time (short version: much better!). First, we renamed it to Event Planning rather than Party Planning to use a greater variety of texts and also make it seem like a more serious topic, since for university students, parties don’t necessarily require a great deal of planning.