During my time here, we aren’t just hanging out and eating good food. (Hard to believe, right?) The purpose, funded by Fulbright DAT, is to research methods in teaching writing to native Arabic speakers, perhaps by using oral history as the tool and motivating factor. Many of the native Arabic speakers that I have taught in the past have struggled the most with writing.
As I speak to more people, anecdotally I have been told that many Arabic speakers have a lot of trouble writing in Arabic also because while the spoken language has modernized, they are still expected to write in a traditional style. The comparison made has been if we required our students to write in an English circa Shakespeare and King James. I can only imagine how well that would float.
As I go through my project, I will be doing a number of things to investigate how to improve my own writing instruction and share that with others:
- Take an Arabic class – This is going to be tricky. Just as Will and Maggie have missed 2 weeks of school, I have missed 2 weeks of Arabic class. What I hope to understand are some basic differences between Arabic and English so I know which things to emphasize in my grammar teaching.
- Observe teachers teaching (English) writing – What does a normal class look like here? What are some strategies that teachers use that are effective?
- Interview teachers, students, administrators, professors (anyone who will talk to me) – That way I can get more in-depth into the thought process and focus of teachers.
So on that note, I have compiled a draft interview outline. I am sure that this will be tweaked based on who I am interviewing and as I find out more along the way. I hope to record these so I can go back and review them later.
1st draft of interview questions
- May I record this?
- What is your name?
- How long have you been teaching?
- What is the name of your school/institution?
- What age students do you teach?
- What subjects do you teach now?
- What subjects have you taught in the past?
- In your school at what age do students begin studying English?
- At what age do they begin writing in English?
- Why does your school teach English?
- How much of your time do you spend on teaching writing?
- What difficulties do you see your students have when learning to write?
- What is your primary/secondary focus when teaching writing (sentence level, paragraph level, grammar, vocabulary, etc)?
- What is your favorite activity when teaching writing?
- What types of topics do you use to teach writing?
- What is your students’ favorite writing activity? (informational, persuasive, narrative)
- Do you try to teach them to pattern an American/British style or to write in English in an Arabic style?
- Do you have any student examples of writing?
I am actively taking suggestions on what types of things to question. If you have any additional questions (any time between now and December or a burning question afterwards!) PLEASE send them over to me by email or comment below!