Al-Asas for Teaching Arabic for Non-Native Speakers الأسـاس
The book also includes topics that reflect Arab culture, Arab social customs and traditions, the status of Arab women, and some Arabic proverbs. Some lessons discuss old Arab cities, such as Jerusalem, Amman, Sanaa, and Gaza. The cities are introduced and their civilizations and artifacts discussed.
This book also takes into consideration the different backgrounds of students, such as medical doctors and foreign students’ need to visit hospitals during their stay in an Arab country. A lesson entitled “A Visit to the University Hospital” was thus added and includes the main terminology a patient and doctor might need. The texts are short and progress from simple to more complex in a manner that is in line with the needs of students and their abilities.
In every lesson, a text is first introduced, followed by a question and answer comprehension section. This is followed by exercises and a demonstration of some grammatical and conjugational concepts that are employed within the context of the topic. A listening text that is related to the lesson topic is included, and finally, a writing exercise that is also related to the topic of the lesson. Every lesson thus handles the four language skills and trains students on them using the content of the main text.
Because of the complex and difficult nature of teaching listening skills and the need to assist teachers and students in this important undertaking, I felt it necessary to pay detailed attention to listening skills. The purpose of listening texts is to gradually develop students’ ability to comprehend spoken Arabic. The listening texts selected are thus relevant to the original text, but students are not expected to know or understand all the terms that occur in the listening text. What is important at this stage is that students are able to understand the gist of the text. Students can conduct an oral question and answer exercise with the assistance of the instructor using the questions and exercises in the book to further their comprehension of the listening text.
One of the easiest ways to teach listening skills is for the instructor to task their students with listening to the text at home—not as a homework assignment but to train their ears on listening to Arabic while giving them the freedom to listen to the text as often as they wish, since these texts are recorded on the online audio content. Listening skills should be taught in a language lab. Students are asked to listen to the text twice, and then the instructor asks them to determine the main idea of the text. After surveying the students’ responses, the instructor writes down the answer on the board, or asks a student to do so.
The instructor then asks their students to quickly and silently go over the lesson’s questions and exercises in the book. The listening text is played again and students are then asked to respond to the questions orally. The text is played one more time and students are asked to identify difficult words and expressions, which the instructor writes down on the board and explains. The instructor asks students (one at a time and using no more than two sentences) to start relating the ideas of the listening text in order. The instructor can avoid embarrassing students who cannot remember the order of ideas in the text by asking the person sitting next to them to help, for example. If the text is a story, the instructor can distribute the roles of the story’s characters among the students, who can then act it out.
It is also possible to use the listening text to test the students’ spelling skills. The instructor can, for example, ask students to write down the first three sentences they hear. The sentences are then written in their correct form on the board, and students exchange and mark each others' papers. This exercise is known as a “learning test.” The instructor may also ask students to write down the listening text at home.
Gradually, students can be trained to listen to an Arabic newscast at home and try to summarize it. This exercise might seem difficult at the outset, but it is important to encourage students to keep trying. Grammatical and conjugational concepts are introduced in a brief manner by outlining the rule and then focusing on exercises, which are numerous and varied and avoid the tediousness of the traditional way of teaching Arabic grammar. Difficult concepts are backed with tables that help students better understand and grasp them.
Exercises to review past lessons and refresh students’ memories are available in Lesson 13. In addition, the final lesson contains a general revision, Test Your Knowledge, which is comprised of exercises that review the main rules of syntax, conjugation, and linguistics that students must grasp upon completing this level.
The book has six appendixes:
Appendix 1: Arabic-English Dictionary: New terms are arranged by lesson, not by alphabetical order for ease of reference.
Appendix 2: Arabic-Arabic Dictionary: It provides students with their own dictionaries to help them in their studies and develop their vocabulary.
Appendix 3: This appendix contains a list of most of the verbs used in the lessons and their sources.
Appendix 4: This appendix contains a list of nouns in their singular and plural forms. This appendix was introduced upon observing the great interest given to nouns and their forms by most students.
Appendix 5: This appendix contains a list of words selected from the texts and their antonyms.
Appendix 6: This appendix contains a list of Arabic grammar vocabulary along with its English translation.
The accompanying online audio contains a clear recording of the texts of the main lessons and a recording of the listening texts accompanying each main lesson.
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