In our current climate, becoming a qualified teacher, particularly in a secondary or tertiary education setting can open up numerous opportunities the world over.
What decisions are there to make when deciding for good to become an Arabic teacher?
What approach should we take? Is the traditional means the best?
Is a diploma to teach really necessary though in Australia in this day and age? There is strong evidence here that being a learner who starts from scratch with a view to becoming a teacher is also very achievable.
Why Teach Arabic?
Compared to a century ago, English is the main language that comes to mind when it comes to teaching a second language, due to its job and education prospects that it opens up. As a result, it goes without saying that it's less likely you'll find the motivation to learn or teach a second language in Australia, being a native English speaking country.
The more ambitious students will however see the benefits that a second language can bring to your job and your life, and will take the plunge to get lessons. These are the people we're talking to about taking an Arabic course.
Consider teaching an Arabic course yourself.
An Ancient Language
Arabic, in a similar form to how it currently exists, has been around for more than 2000 years, and is spoke by roughly 350 million people as a native language, both across the Arab world and in its various diasporas*
* The Arab world refers to the region as we've denoted it in the west since the 19th century, this meaning that there are countries in the Arab league which are not Arab majority countries, but where the language is spoken.
The tongue initially appeared in the Arabian Peninsula, becoming the official language of Islam in the 7th century AD.
It is inherently associated today with the religion itself, bringing with it all of the culture and literature of the various states it's affiliated with, particularly now through the internet and television.
It is a language that holds deep and enduring cultural appeal due to its age and geopolitical importance, yet remains steadfastly modern due to Arab speaking technology hubs, meaning its appeal in education is getting higher all the time.
A Challenging Subject
Whilst it is indisputably a global language, it is still not on the scale of English, hence not widely taught.
It is highly complex to learn and teach, and can take a lot of time, patience, and experience to become proficient, not least of all because of its various dialects and literary forms.
It nevertheless remains appealing, especially for its subtleties and charm, so different to western languages.
Particularly challenging is the fact that it is so different from Indo-European languages, especially in its grammar, syntax, and pronunciation.
Taking Stock of the Different Methods for Arabic Teaching
At primary school level, it will typically be taught through a dedicated school, with lessons held weekly, through ELCO programmes, which concerns the teaching of languages and cultures of origin to non-native speakers, particularly in the Maghreb.
In secondary, Arabic language has become a stronghold for the education of the language, however remains one of the only settings you'll find it taught in.
What is it about Arabic that doesn't draw people in?
The main reason is that Arabic's specificity confines its certified teachers to only teaching subjects that are similar to it in and of themselves, hence it gets little exposure against its benefits.
Demand nevertheless remains strong, amongst both young learners and adults, who will eventually turn to private organisations or associations for weekly workshops or classes, leaning on textbooks and pedagogical methods for the language.
See how you can reach a wider student base for your Arabic lessons.
What Makes a Good Arabic Teacher?
There are a few things to bear in mind to become a memorable Arabic teacher.
The purpose of an instructor should be to initiate then develop and refine their students' skills, all the while tailoring lessons to enhance their oral and written expression.
Due to its nuance, Arabic instruction focuses more on expression rather than understanding per se.
It is just as plausible for it to be successful outside of a formal education context, which can suit both total beginners and experienced learners.
Whether it's in an accredited Arabic language school, online, or through one-to-one in-home classes that you want to teach, the objective of lessons remains the same: impart your knowledge and experience with the language to the student.
Check out the required competencies are for being an Arabic teacher at any level.
From within your programme, you'll be able to decide what to offer: from Arabic grammar, spelling, and conjugation, to oral expression, colloquialisms, and topical subjects, all core components of contemporary Arabic.
Depending on the students' difficulties and ambitions, their Arabic learning journey could takes months or years, and commitment is the only way to succeed; no shortcuts.
It generally takes around 2,000 hours to really master written and spoken Arabic, by many accounts.
Regardless of your level or qualifications, being an Arabic teacher will entail adapting to your students' needs, as these can vary starkly from student to student, creating a lack of motivation and eventual abandonment of the practice altogether.
By being an adaptable teacher, your interest in their learning will truly be shown, thus capturing their attention, which can be further enhanced by your meticulous lesson planning.
Skills of a Strong Arabic Teacher
Find below a non-exhaustive list of skills that make a great Arabic instructor:
- Outstanding command of the language, both spoken and written
- Strong Interpersonal Skills
- Pedagogical Awareness
- Authoritative Attitude
- Actively Listening
- Readily Available
- Strong Organisation
The Classic Path to Becoming an Arabic Teacher
Foreign language teacher training is the most straightforward way to acquire this accreditation.
This process involves between 4 and 5 years of university study, followed by a regionally administered test to operate in your state.
For those really wanting to go all the way and become an Arabic language and linguistics academic, a PhD is the way to go.
As can be assumed, these all demand a lot from the learner/teacher and require commitment. There's also only a limited number of positions offered each year.
For the more hands-on approach, there's the option to study or work for a semester or year in an Arab state, with plenty of universities and companies in the region offering Arabic instructions whilst in-country.
A generous amount is typically offered to foreigners willing to learn, especially in wealthier Gulf states.
Individual Private Courses
The most common way to get longevity out of your Arabic teaching position is in high schools and universities, however there is a means of imparting your own passion and gusto for the language.
This is through giving private language courses.
Registering for a comprehensive tutor website like Superprof lets you share your passion with prospective pupils who are keen to find a dedicated teacher for their own learning journey.
After setting your hourly rate, the website will open you up to a database of students who require just the services you're offering, including your methodology and dialectal experience who you can contact directly.
Naturally, if you've got a qualification in Arabic in any capacity, that is also viewed well by students. Having a certified teacher is a good way of inspiring confidence in learners.
You could also consider offering your services through newspaper and internet classified, on supermarket cork boards, or in your local town halls and/or place of worship.
The price of the course offered would also depend on both the student's level of Arabic and yours.
As a rule of thumb, the average price of tutoring would be about $35
Meeting the new student face to face is an effective way of explaining your teaching methods, and can see if this matches their expectations for Arabic, as well as how long they will want to learn for.
Get the inside scoop for how to set your Arabic lesson rates here.
The Different Kinds of Arabic Teachers
A quick peruse of the different individual tutors available on Superprof will show how different each can be from the next.
Foreign language professors all have different profiles, approaches, and experience, with Arabic teachers obviously amongst their ranks.
Giving private lessons only requires your skills and commitment, no special qualifications. Most can be learnt on the job.
You will nonetheless need to get students to the level they want to be in Arabic, exposing them to strong pedagogy and methodology, as well as understanding and empathy.
Different Types of Literary Arabic Teachers
Students at University:
Having learnt the notions in depth yourself in class, you are more than equipped with the skills to tutor directly to beginners, in the language and linguistics of Arabic in order to deepen their knowledge.
Bilingual Arabic Professors:
There's a chance you've already taught if you're a graduate. Bearing a deeper understanding of the language and subject matter, you can guide students through this process themselves, bringing a sociocultural context to refine their understanding of the language and culture of the Arabian Peninsula. This is also ideal when preparing for a test as you can hone in on particular details.
Native Arabic Tutors:
As Arabic would be your first language, there's nuances of the language, dialect, and culture that you bring light to. You've got a first hand understanding of Moroccan, Egyptian, Lebanese, or Palestinian culture and society, and can elucidate your learners on both the deeply held and new-age beliefs, gastronomy, art, and literature that make the Arabic world tick.
Places to Look for Arabic Teaching Work in Australia
Bear in mind:
Arabic is the 5th most spoken language in the whole world, counting more than 250 million speakers, and is one of the 6 official languages of the UN. Its global importance and appeal is therefore easily understandable, in terms of geopolitics and intercultural relations especially. There are many ways to help individuals access this cultural and political milieu across Australia.
Learning Arabic at University
Though it is not generally taught in Australian primary and secondary education, exacerbated by sometimes strained relations with the middle east, there is still interest in Arabic at universities. We nevertheless maintain cultural ties to the Arab world, and require translators, interpreters, Arabic speakers, as well as scholars of the middle east, who become trained at university. There is thus a demand for tutors here as it is considered relatively niche if you are a native English speaker and not of middle eastern descent.
Arabic Lessons through Cultural Associations and Institutions
These bodies are proponents of cultural diplomacy of their original culture in foreign nations, focussing on the promotion of the richness of their history, language, art, and cuisine, and this includes offering language courses.
The centres will provide intensive or extensive courses, in private or small groups. These will get students to grips with Arabic vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, writing, and speaking. The organisation will also organise cultural events and fetes for students to interact with each other outside class. See if your home town or city has one of these institutions and check it out.
Schools That Teach Arabic Language
To become proficient in Arabic, there are dozen of private institutions out there that can help you.
These regularly recruit Arabic speakers as teachers, as there is constantly rising demand for this kind of professional.
Catering to both children, adolescents, and grown ups, linguistic institutions such as these seek to raise students' proficiency through regular exercises and exams.
As this is not prescriptive and part of the national school curriculum, students also tend to be more motivated to learn as they're coming of their own free will.
With this in mind, you will still be the one at the end of the day who has the final say over how courses are run, planning lessons around the resources you deem the most effective.
Organisations Offering Private Tutoring
Having a higher education certification in Arabic will improve your chances of getting into these organisations and succeeding, especially since this shows that you have gone through the same as the students yourself and come out on top.
One to one tutoring doesn't need to have its praises sung: you can give direct attention to the student and address their problems directly while adapting lessons more dynamically, as there is only one set of learning needs to adhere to. This can also be a great means of experimenting with your own teaching style and finding innovative ways to use your own methods and resources.
Setting Arabic Lesson Prices
Having insight into culture and linguistic nuance isn't always easy to come across, so you should charge accordingly.
The average price of an hour of tuition in Australia is $30, but that's across the whole learning spectrum. It might surprise you to learn that foreign language tutoring can be among the cheapest field of knowledge.
Think about this before finalising your prices:
- See if what you want to charge is in line with the market
- Be precise about your target students: beginners, high schoolers, university students, advanced, teens, adults etc.
- Be specific about what your course offers: language basics, intensive courses, writing and calligraphy or speaking, distance courses, conversation groups etc.
- Be clear about your education and qualification level
- Be forthright about what makes you stand out: particular pedagogy, experience, technology in lessons etc
- Consider the area you'll be teaching in and how long it takes you to get there, as well as the mean income of the zone
- Show any specialisations in the language you may have: Quranic studies, dialectal knowledge, literary knowledge etc.
Don't forget to give some detailed consideration to these factors too:
First, your level of study and subsequent certifications will affect how much a student is willing to pay. Consider how you look on paper.
Secondly, teaching a student, child or adult, the basics of the language including alphabet, pronunciation, verb conjugation, and syntax, though time consuming would not beget the same rate as post-graduate university preparation that requires specalist knowledge and vocabulary.
Then, once you've factored these points in, pay some mind to whether it's more informal (and localised) conversation classes that you'l primarily be offering, or whether it's Quranic or modern standard Arabic that you'll be teaching. This can narrow down the purpose of the lessons, and increase the likelihood of students achieving their goals.
Finally, intensive courses can offer more in a short time, but require you to do more to consolidate the students' knowledge, so this being said, you can charge more for these. Further, even if the student buys in bulk for several lessons to take across the year, though consistent, this will be easier to plan and you can offer a reduced rate for the consistency, so a bulk of lessons in a short timeframe my be better for you financially.
Once this has all been looked into, you'll probably find yourself somewhere between $35 and $75 depending on your expertise. So take a minute and think about this now before plunging into your Arabic teaching, then go start moulding minds! Good luck, or "Had Saïd حظا سعيدا" as it were!