Three Ways to Make our Children Love Arabic
By: Mai Saleh Ali Zaitoon
Some people believe that English is equivalent to urbanization and development, and this has lead to the emergence of a recent phenomenon among Arab families: the phenomenon of speaking English with children without paying enough attention to their Arabic culture.
Parents boast when their child speaks English fluently while he/ she faces difficulty in expressing himself/ herself in Arabic, and they do not view that as a problem.
Moreover, it seems that it is not important to speak Arabic nowadays; parents seem to shun their deep-rooted language which can convey highly nuanced details, and which is rich in vocabulary. Those people do not consider it important to hold on to our culture, to cherish our sense of belonging and authenticity, to remember our distinguished history or even to recognize our difficult present while hoping for a brighter future for the Arab World.
So many of us have chosen to abandon our language and to resort to another language, instead of being part of the solution and maintaining our Arab identity to overcome difficulties.
But, if you are one of those people who want to change this phenomenon, here are some difficulties you might encounter while teaching kids Arabic and suggestions to address them.
Lack of Control over Digital Content that Children Watch or Hear
Recent studies recommend limiting kids’ exposure to screen time to two hours a day spread out over several stretches of time, and this allocated time must be useful and effective.
Unfortunately, many parents allow their kids to watch T.V or use tablets without controlling the content their children are exposed to. Parents are also guilty of opening programs, applications or songs in foreign languages for their kids, thinking that those are more fun.
However, it is important to know that there are many distinguished Arabic applications, which can help in teaching Arabic. This, in turn, helps the child to acquire more vocabulary and to get used to hearing the Arabic Language through fun and entertaining topics in a useful and purposeful way. In addition to applications, there are short cartoons in Arabic; these present modern topics related to children’s interests in modern standard Arabic with funny and entertaining characters.
As for kids’ songs and lullabies, most people believe that English songs are funny while the Arabic ones are noisy and lack creativity. Luckily, genuine Arabic songs have appeared recently addressing different educational subjects for children with attractive graphics and beautiful rhythms. You can imagine how wonderful it is to hear your child sing meaningful songs in his/ her mother tongue!
The Use of Traditional Ways in Teaching Arabic and the Lack of Arabic Sources Make children Lose Interest and Focus
Methods of teaching Arabic have been accused of being boring; however, even if that is true, it is our responsibility to make learning Arabic fun.
Parents should try to discover what their child likes to employ that in teaching him/ her Arabic. For example, if your child likes transportation means and cars, seize that opportunity to search for different means of transportation, teach your child their Arabic names and encourage him/ her to use these names each time you go out with your child. If your child is a fan of colors and painting, you can teach him/ her colors in Arabic while doing an activity they love.
It is also useful to look for interactive teaching methods in Arabic, which do exist: all you want to do is look for them in the libraries around you or do an online search for them. Instead of buying many toys that teach English, you can use the child’s toy budget to buy fun and useful toys designed in Arabic. If you cannot find any, you can use this opportunity to create and design fun handicrafts in Arabic with your kids. This allows you to spend time with your children and get closer to them while making them feeling safe on one hand as they learn Arabic at the same time.
Children’s Books in English are Easily Available in Libraries Whereas a Small Corner is Assigned for Arabic Children’s Books
It is well known that reading is one of the most important methods for teaching any language. The more books and stories parents read to their children, the more information is gained, and vocabulary acquired by these children.
The difficulty of finding good Arabic books for children is the responsibility of parents and Arabic libraries, not the Arabic publishing houses. The Arab world is full of publishing houses that are interested in creative and excellent Arabic books, which, in my point of view compete with English books.
You can contact the publishing houses to find the distributors around you, or you can make online purchases. There is a wide range of Arabic books which are distinctly creative and of excellent quality, so please do not let your children miss out on the opportunity of reading them!
I am not implying that Arabic books are much better than foreign ones, and I do not mean to underestimate the creativity of many foreign books and their content. However, I am saying that Arabic books have their own characteristics that emphasize their uniqueness and importance. As you read more Arabic books to your kids, their knowledge about their own and other cultures will grow. Reading will also improve their concentration and widen their imagination.
It is undeniable that there are many challenges and difficulties faced by Arab parents in teaching Arabic to their children, especially with the globalized culture sweeping the Arab world. These difficulties do not mean that we lose hope or to just go with the flow simply because it is easier. There has to be more effort spent to teach our children their language.
It is their right to know and enjoy this rich language and to learn about our culture and heritage through it and to be as skillful in it as they are in other languages.
This blog article has been provided by 360Moms.
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