Teaching Arabic – Preparing for the Class

عن عثمان رضي اللّٰه عنه قال: قال رسول اللّٰه (صلّى اللّٰه عليه وسلّم): خَيْرُكُم مَنْ تَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ وَعَلَّمَهُ (رواه البخاري)

The best among you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it

With the desire to expand the Arabic program, we need to turn more students into teachers. I recall when I was studying the Madinah Books class, I never imagined that one day I will teach. And here I am, teaching Arabic for almost a decade now. During the last 10 years, I’ve tried many things improve the learning experience for the students. Some worked some didn’t. I decided to share some of the things I do to prepare for the class, so others who are planning to teach can benefit from those. I’m sure there are other ways, even better ones, but I thought it is worth sharing my own experiences.

Here are the tips:

Make the Intention

As with any task we do, it’s important to make the right intention. In this case the intention must be to gain the pleasure of Allah by understanding and spreading the knowledge of His Final Message. Furthermore, it is important to constantly remind ourselves that we’re not learning and teaching the Arabic language for the sake of learning the language; rather there is a higher goal of understanding the Qur’an and implementing it in our lives.

Understand the Language

The teacher must have studied the course him/herself. Since they are going to use the Madinah books, it is important that they should have studied these books in detail and understand most, if not all, topics and have done the respective exercises. They should then put extra effort to study the topics that they did not understand well and make sure they feel comfortable teaching it.

Understand Dr. Abdur Rahim’s teaching style

While there are many aspects of his teaching style, the most important, in my opinion, is the progressive introduction of topics and complexity. He progresses from simple to complex and when teaching one topic, stays within that topic without spreading into others. Then he makes the students do extensive exercises for that topic so that they can master it before moving to the next one. In this regard the teacher must follow the same style and not jump back and forth.

Prepare for each class

As humans, we all forget and even if we may have understood a topic in detail when we studied it, we would have forgotten some aspects of it. This is especially true as most of us are new to this language and do not use it on every day basis. So teaching requires thorough revision of each topic before it is taught. In this regard, I do the following during the week preceding the class.

Plan Plan Plan There is no short cut to planning. Exactly what will be taught in the next class has to be decided upfront. This includes which topics will be covered in terms of concept, exercise, etc. Then for the concept, what methods/tools I will use. For example, am I going to use the Powerpoint notes, or will I explain on the board, or both. If I am going to explain on the board, what example(s) am I going to use. The sequence of the topics is equally important. I don’t want to overload students with too many concepts before doing the respective exercises. So I prefer to explain one concept followed by some exercises, then the next topic and its exercises and so on and so forth. Also I plan when and how I’m going to engage the students. In other words, I’ve two and a half hours of students’ time, and I’ve to create a FULL storyline for that time. I create that storyline in my head before the class and during the class I’m simply following that storyline. It helps to stay on-course and avoid spur of the moment tangents, which can waste the precious class time.

Review and complete all exercises for the lesson(s), which I’m going to cover in upcoming class. For me, this includes writing the meaning of all Arabic text. Writing the singular/plural for important nouns; writing the past/present tense of the verb being used along with its meanings; writing any Qur’anic references as examples. Having this information handy, not only saves time from having to look it up during the class, but also saves me from making mistakes, if I were to guess the meaning or the verb.

Watch Br. Asif’s Class Video(s) for the lesson(s), which I’m going to cover. This takes quite some time but it is an effective technique to prepare for the class. It ensures that if I have an incorrect understanding, I can correct it. It also helps me to discuss all the aspects that are necessary for that topic. This way, I stay close to Dr. Abdur Rahim and Br. Asif’s teaching content and style.

Review the Madinah Books Resources in detail to make sure I remember the contents of each slide that I’m going to present and have my talking points rehearsed.

List down any additional examples that I want to discuss in the class. Thinking of examples on the spot can be difficult especially if you’re starting to teach for the first time. Well thought out examples and the sequence in which they are presented can make a big difference in students’ ability to understand the related topic(s).

Stay Connected

After the class, a regular communication with the students via email is also important. The email acts as a reminder for the students to do the homework including the ones who may have missed the class. Typically it is a good idea to share three main pieces of information in the regular class update emails, including:

  1. 1- What was covered in the last class
  2. 2- What is the homework and
  3. 3- What will be covered in the next class

It is important to send the email within 24 hours of the class so the students have ample time to do the homework.

I strongly encourage current and past students to start teaching and spread their knowledge. You can start with the family and friends. If you see that your local masjid does not have such a program, you can volunteer to run the class. As you undertake any such teaching task, rest assured that LQ Mississauga team will support you in this endeavour.