Somia Schell is a native Arabic speaker who is certified to teach Arabic as a foreign language from the American University in Cairo and Boston University. Living in the USA for many years and fluent in English, Somia started giving Arabic lessons to non-native speaking students from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds in 2003. To promote her Arabic language teaching methods Somia founded The Arabic Language Academy website in 2009.
Somia prefers teaching Arabic using the communicative and content-based methods combined with a fundamental approach. As a result, students enjoy a customized and unique curriculum that integrates reading and writing while also studying the Arabic culture, math, grammar, and biographies. Somia also incorporates conversation, reading classical Arabic essays, studying geography and maps, art and music along with sound recordings. Her approach implements customized Arabic language classes based on the individual student’s desires and reasons for learning Arabic.
As a modern online Arabic language teacher, Somia has been quick to recognize the value and effectiveness of implementing Internet-based tools in her teaching program. She uses cost effective internet communication systems such as Skype to interact with students and also to review home work in real-time together.
Arabic language classes are made easier and more comfortable with Somia’s fresh approach and fully integrated teaching. Her students are known to be with her for many years, taking follow-up curriculum studies and participating in chats to ensure their command of the Arabic language stays strong.
Here Somia explains why her Arabic language teaching experience and methods give her a high success rate in teaching students Arabic.
Classroom management styles are the styles which dictate are going to set up your classroom to manage your teaching.
- One style I use separates students into three flexible rotated learning groups determined by test scores and later by learning styles. The three groups are computer lessons, teacher directed lessons and independent lesson practice.
- Other whole class styles are based on the Kagan grouping style of co-operative learning teams. Styles include Round Robin, Round Table, Find-Someone-Who, Guess the Fib, etc.
To ensure students understand the concepts behind my Arabic language classes I assess my students in formal and informal ways. I use a combination of both forms of assessment as this gives me more information about how the students are learning. A student can always pretend they are learning so I ensure each student proves they understand.
- Formal ways are to set tests using computer and paper-based techniques then re-teaching if necessary. Informal ways are asking questions during the lesson time and using exit tickets where students are given 3 or 4 questions to answer about the lessons before they leave the classroom.
Student engagement to learn Arabic depends greatly on my a choice of class management system.
- If I model and practice the management style I want to use the students will follow the model and be successful in their learning. However everyday some students will not want to participate for various reasons, so to combat this I implement my teaching philosophy with the proven style I know works the best. I include various styles of Arabic tuition so students get the very best from their learning experience and are successful.
What does learner-centered instruction mean to you?
- Learner centered instruction means teaching students with results in mind. I don’t necessarily follow the text books exactly, but adapt accordingly to how the student wants to learn.
My top 5 characteristics for being a successful language teacher:
- Respect my students and their needs.
- Love and passion for the Arabic language.
- Show the students I really care about them and their learning.
- Teach for successful results.
- Think outside of the box to engage the students in their learning process.
The steps I take to motivate my students on a daily basis:
- If students know I truly care about them and their learning they will usually be motivated. I prove I care by:choosing a classroom management style which works for them showing my students how to be successful with this chosen style. This makes my Arabic language classes learning centered, keeping a safe, comfortable environment where my students are free to express their ideas, stay consistent and receive awards that effectively end in results.
The process of developing language curriculum:
- My experience does not directly cover language curriculum however I have experience with mathematics curriculum development.
- All curriculum development involves taking your subject and breaking it down into sequential learning components.
- A subject should be taught in small segments which build on each other.
How I deal with teaching Arabic language classes where students have a wide variety of proficiency levels
- I would set up my learning sessions by student proficiency giving each student their lessons according to their experience and ability. I would also have the more proficient students help the less proficient student (peer teaching) by pairing them together for some common learning experiences.
Teaching students for learners requiring the Arabic language for work purposes.
- My approach differs away from traditional text book and conventional methods to conversational and technical methods. I concentrate on the particular work language and supplement the Arabic tuition with the language skills required to be more successful in the job role.
How I handle a classroom setting where students are frequently absent? Below are the steps I take to ensure all learners have equal learning opportunities.
- If I use the learning center approach then I will appoint a person from each group to copy down the lesson assignment, homework assignment and/or collect any handouts given during the lesson and put them in the students classroom mailbox.