Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Another summer came and Angela would turn five in autumn. Her dad and I being of Arab/ middle eastern heritage have always planned to start teaching her Arabic one day. We mainly use English at home; we live in an English speaking country; and she goes to an English only school. We also don't have any friends or neighbors who #speakArabic in our close social circle.
It was becoming more obvious that as time went by Angela would grow up speaking English only. Just to be clear, we did speak some Arabic to her at home, but the main language had always been English. Angela could only speak in English, apart from very few random Arabic words. Another issue was that Angela had some speech and language delay, which was the main reason we sought to focus mainly on English.
Every time we would video chat with our parents or relatives back home, we would cringe at the lack of apparent communication Angela had with them. Language is indeed a strong cultural bond, and we did not want her to grow up being detached or distanced from her roots. Additionally, learning another language is always a plus, and it's even better when you learn it at a tender age. It will open more doors to career and life opportunities and deepen your understanding of the relevant culture.
Research shows that bilingual individuals are better at multitasking and have more grey matter in the part of their brain related to executive functioning. Studies even go further to suggest that students who learn a foreign language can perform better on exams. According to science as well, the cut of age to proficiently learn a new language without any "accent" is around seven or eight years of age. For further reading and fifteen reasons why your child should learn another language, I suggest you read this post.
And so, I started to research and research about how I could teach Angela some #Arabic. Angela had just started using long sentences in English, and she was doing well with her speech development. I felt she was ready, and that learning Arabic would not overwhelm or derail her. I also wanted to find an approach that was fun, simple,and most importantly not time consuming.
In my research journey, I was disappointed to find limited resources for people in similar situations. Information online was mainly directed at adults wanting to learn Arabic or kids who already speak Arabic proficiently. The remaining bit were boring videos on Youtube which Angela showed no interest in.
The obvious way to go about it was to create my own approach. Having worked in translation and having translated countless documentaries, television episodes and other material from English into Arabic, that made a good starting point for me, in addition to pursuing a degree in Education and working in a school. My father is very proficient in Arabic language and he's a great source of support. He trains individuals in the Arabic media industry for public speaking and Arabic language skills, in addition to being a very well known actor. Needless to say, we grew up with a strong love for Arabic and specifically, Arabic for communication and making an impact.
As the days unfolded, I was surprised and pleased at how fast Angela was learning. In fact it took her just two weeks to learn how to read and write the Arabic alphabet. She was showing more interest in the language, and we were even more encouraged to speak to her more in Arabic. It was the kick start of our Arabic learning journey. Moreover, it was so much fun and it brought us even closer as a mom and daughter.
In this blog I will share resources, tips, advise, worksheets, ideas, links and recommendations all aimed at Arabic language learning for kids and beginners. Hopefully, this will help you learn Arabic or teach Arabic to your child in an easier and more fun way, especially if you are looking for free valuable resources to learn Arabic.
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