The Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Arabic as a Foreign Language (AFL) classes combined in the elementary school for a special reading activity that aims to foster collaborative learning between different levels of Arabic learners and to improve the language development of both classes.
Students were separated into groups of three, each with an Arabic story. Each group consisted of a leader, a reader and a translator. The reader read the book, the translator explained the story when needed and the leader facilitated the group's conversation. Finally, each group presented a reflection on the story to the class.
This collaborative learning experience between students with different command of the Arabic language benefits every student involved: Non-native students have the opportunity to hear fluent Arabic speakers read aloud, improving their listening comprehension and pronunciation skills, while native students can learn to develop their reading fluency, leadership and communication skills.
The activity also helped to break down stereotypes about Arabic language learners and their skills. When it comes to reading and writing, AFL students may surpass MSA students' skills, while MSA students excel in speaking and comprehension over AFL.
A collaborative learning environment provides a space where students feel encouraged to express ideas without fear of judgment. By learning from one another, they gain an understanding of the language and develop a sense of community.