Qatar Foundation International (QFI) has hosted the annual Arabic Language and Culture Summer Institute on the George Mason University campus in Fairfax, Virginia, US.

The Arabic Summer Institute was founded four years ago to meet the needs and interests of Arabic language educators and to equip them with best practices in curriculum planning, classroom management and integrating culture.

It brings together new and experienced teachers from QFI’s Arabic programmes across the US, providing a forum for them to share activities, resources, curricula and experiences in teaching Arabic as a foreign language. 

This year’s Institute focused on the themes of curriculum development, classroom management and integrating culture into Arabic teaching. Some 32 participants were sponsored by QFI to attend this year.

The group included both QFI teachers and QFI teacher fellows (those enrolled in certification programmes to become licensed Arabic teachers in public schools). The participants were placed in five groups according to teaching experience, progress in curriculum mapping and the grades that they teach (elementary, middle or high school).

The participants brought their own resources, curricula and lesson plans to share with one another.

Workshops were led by Paul Sandrock, director of Education and past president of American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL); Dr Donna Clementi, a national consultant specialising in best practices in world language curriculum, instruction and assessment; Rana Naaman, an elementary school teacher trainer at the International Programmes School in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia; Dr Salah Ayari, an instructional assistant professor of Arabic and Arabic Studies and associate head for Academic Programmes at the Department of International Studies, Texas A&M University; and Raja’a Shalabi, assistant principal of Qatar Academy Msheireb.

“It has been a tremendous opportunity to reconnect with colleagues. We are often in a vacuum, so it is especially useful and invaluable to get these dedicated groups of individuals together and to tap into these resources,” said Kwame Lawson, high school teacher at EL Haynes Public Charter School, Washington, DC.

“Arabic teaching is very isolating and these institutes are key in creating a community,” added Sara Standish, academic programme manager at OneWorld Now. “Without these chances to get together, I wouldn’t even know who these Arabic teachers are, much less talk to them and exchange ideas.”

The Institute was held in both Arabic and English over a weeklong period. In addition to workshops on integrated performance assessment, it included guided discussions and presentations by teachers on their experiences in teaching Arabic in K-12 public schools.

In order to provide continuous professional development, QFI will sponsor these educators to continue their collaboration at the ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, in November.

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