Between December 15 and 17, 2017, I attended and presented at a conference titled: “Approaches and Challenges in Arabic Language Pedagogy” at the American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt. This conference is one of the very few conferences focused on the field of teaching Arabic as a foreign language. This was a chance to get up to date with what is new in the field. It was also a good opportunity to meet with other professionals and listen to some of challenges they are facing and what they are offering as solutions.
I presented on the first day of the conference as part of a panel titled: “Methodology in the AFL Classroom” which was focused on some of the practices in the classroom that help students acquire the language. The topic of my presentation was “OMG … Oh My Game! Games in AFL classrooms: When to use a game? And how to design an in-class game?”. My presentation was divided into two parts; the first one was the theoretical, where I discussed the theory of “Gamification” and the literature around it as well as the results of my research. The second part was the practical, where I discussed the measures that the teacher should have in mind while creating or choosing a game for the class. In addition to the measures, what are the different types of games that would serve the teacher’s goals and the students’ needs.
The feedback received on this presentation brought more ideas and was helpful. One of the suggestions was to create an interactive website where teachers can log in and build their own game that would align with their lesson plan and students’ needs. Another comment was that this presentation changed the way some teachers see games and their usefulness.
Throughout the three days of the conference I attended many sessions and panels that were worth the time and effort. One of the most interesting topics was on the integration of technology in the classroom. This panel was a showcase of how to use online resources to ease the learning of Arabic and make it more accessible. There was also another presentation on another panel that introduced a project for a new textbook in the making.
The majority of the panels were very motivating and raised many questions and answers to countless challenges that I myself face while teaching in the classroom. Meeting with colleagues from different institutions from the US, Europe and the Middle East (Egypt in particular) was an unforgettable, eye-opening experience.