Arabic classes for children
By Oula Mahfouz
Since October 2018 there is an Arabic language class for children, held in Mössingen. 13 Syrian children meet there every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. to learn Arabic together. Their teachers are Kamila Alali and Khadija Mahmoud, who gave language classes in Syria as well.
This idea came up when a group of Arab women in Mössingen complained about their children forgetting Arabic or not even learning it at all. Kamila Alali took it upon herself to organize an Arabic class for children. In order to … an adequate teaching facility, she reached out to the City of Mössingen, which provided her with a room in the old municipality building.
The children attending the class are coming from Ofterdingen, Talheim and Mössingen and are between 6 and 12 years old. They learn to speak, read and write the Arabic language. They have been practicing the forms of the Arabic letters and how to read and write from right to left since October. Moreover, the teachers involve the children oral dialogues, so that they can learn how to express their feelings in the language and use it in a daily fashion.
Khadija says, that the children learning Arabic is a good thing, since it is their native tongue and they should maintain it, even while they’re learning another language in a quick and effective way.
In Khadija’s opinion, the absence of good books is a big issue. Another problem is that the children’s abilities in Arabic are almost non-existent, which makes communicating with them quite difficult. Khadija thus urges parents to speak Arabic with their children. For her, children speaking German among themselves is not a problem at all, but parents should communicate in Arabic with their children.
One mother emphasized the importance of her son learning Arabic again. Her child of seven years was only three years old when they arrived in Germany. Her boy attended kinder garden and began to learn German. Since she wanted him to learn fast, she allowed him to speak German at home as well. As a consequence, he forgot how to speak Arabic properly. Since she herself did not know German that well, their communication became very difficult.
Another mother expresses her wish for Arabic to be part of the Arabic children’s school curriculum, since “no matters the lengths we mothers go to, the education in school will always be of better quality and more long-lasting.”
A third mother joins in and adds, that “as Syrians, we are scattered all over the world right now and the Arabic language is our only means to stay in contact with one another.” Studies have shown that children who have a good knowledge of their native tongue are able to learn additional languages more effectively.
The children are looking forward to the Arabic classes and they have fun learning. “I want to learn Arabic, since it is my mother tongue and I naturally have to know it”, replies ten year old Zahra. Some children also find learning Arabic important, in order to be able to read the Quran and other books.
Children should master their native tongue!