Exams are on students' minds from the beginning of high school, but they're more concerned with life than lessons until the later years.
Don't get complacent though - you'll find a day, month, and year pass quicker than you think! You actually start your leaning programme from the start of high school, so you will discover that the best way to prepare for exams in later years in VCE/HSC/WACE/QCE/SACE is to focus on your studies from the get-go.
You will need to don your thinking cap especially early if you're spending time learning Arabic in high school, with a view to exams or university.
The spoken and grammatical elements, letters, alphabet, vocabulary, phrases, and how to understand every word when you read are complicated enough when you learn Modern Standard Arabic - but then your courses may include the dialect of your native speaking teacher (not to mention the different student levels and experience of pupils in the class).
The speaking, vocab, grammar, and alphabet are obviously the most complicated thing to learn if you're a beginner, so you will need to complement this with some private online courses too. There are plenty of great apps for this that your instructor can recommend enhancing your studies.
This should mean that you're more free to spend class time speaking with people and fellow classmates, consolidating the finicky grammatical and vocabulary points, and alphabet you've worked on in previous lessons, online or with apps outside of class time.
All things considered, Modern Standard Arabic will be the most common dialect taught in language courses, which is noteworthy since, between this and Egyptian and Levantine Arabic, pronunciations vary a lot despite the same alphabet.
It's also worth noting that the price of Arabic classes can vary greatly, yet English language speaking students should be able to find something to fit in their price range.
The Rationale for Arabic Tuition
Pupils in all modern language courses will know that the point of learning languages is to achieve fluency, including an understanding of culture, and eventual C1 level in read, spoken, written, grammar, and vocab elements of the idiom, denoting autonomy in each of these.
Whilst a beginner student tends to work word by word, the teacher will know the best ways to use a verb and vocabulary to form complete and fluent phrases. The same goes for the other areas too, with the goal of the educator being to have a professional and native sounding mastery of the language as well as the means to understand what is spoken or read. This is true for students of any ability, regardless of whether they take their course online or in the classroom.
The six key expected outcomes outlined for Arabic language education are:
- Ability to engage in dialogues and communication regarding everyday life and societal issues
- Competency in listening to radio, television, speeches, debates, films, documentaries, and other media
- Reading and writing ability, including engagement with modern Arabic literature, some familiarity with dialectical differences, and daily produced press
- Understanding, explanation, and ability to synthesise the main ideas of a written or oral document
- The capacity to interpret, paraphrase or rewrite a text
- The ability to craft a clear, concise, and linear argument
Throughout the course of their studies, learners shall also encounter elements of Arabic culture and daily life, as well as their philosophical precursors.
The way languages are taught is seen as a continuous progression from imitation to autonomy, so beyond just being able to memorise and regurgitate a verb or grammatical point, the teacher will typically force people to speak in their lessons. After all, giving life to a language, no matter the level, helps consolidate it.
Because Arabic is considered so difficult for first-language English speakers, learners need to keep in mind how to make the most of their Arabic classes. This is a great way to get in touch with your own goals for learning also.
Topics Covered in School Arabic Courses
It is difficult to say exactly how many lessons are required to master Arabic, but no matter where or how you learn (in class, with apps, online), the main areas of study will be relatively similar.
These courses will all have a speaking, reading, vocabulary, grammar, writing letters and alphabet, and listening component, as well as cultural insight.
The particular fields that the Australian curriculum denotes to be the most important are:
- Literacy: Whilst this occurs concurrently with other formal (in class, at school) and informal (acquiring and applying how to understand and make sense of learning online, at home), learning to write the Arabic letters and alphabet is not always obvious for native English speakers. Thankfully, reading and writing are the core components of the curriculum that the government and school assist learners to absorb, especially while they're young.
- Critical and Creative Thinking: Beyond just translating word for word what they already know in English, students will gain the creative ability to craft texts both in a spoken and written capacity in Arabic. This is also crucial both at the start of, and all the way through their learning programme, as a professional educator, will be able to bring the student's attention to the way that grammar, vocabulary, verbs, and phrases can influence the way we convey and perceive information.
- Intercultural Understanding: This is true for students who have a heritage link to the language in their daily life, who are learning it as a community language, or are enrolled due to interest or school-specific demands. As the world becomes more interconnected online, this level of ability to understand is going to really aid students to navigate a globalised world more easily, beyond just being able to speak and write the language fluently.
- Information and Communication Technology Capability: In addition to the last point, it shows students the broad use of languages in an online setting, and how much and how easily they can come into contact with foreign languages online, as well as how to make sense of foreign language media and information on the internet.
How to Make the Most of your Arabic Classes
During your private Arabic classes, ask the teacher to go through the topics that are going to be on your exams with you.
Not only shall this let you feel more comfortable and in control when confronting the topics you'll come across on the day, but breaks down and contextualises the education in an easy to retain way.
Having a private tutor, you're likely to have a mother tongue speaker, so you'll probably be in good hands when it comes to slightly more niche topics like literature, music, and culture. This is particularly handy for blocking the time together into these aforementioned chunks.
Furthermore, given that it's likely their mother tongue, they can help you with pronunciation more effectively, and offer phrases and grammatical point that may surprise your examiners, putting you ahead of your peers.
As with anything though, it's crucial to do some research in order to find the best Arabic teacher to suit you.
Check out Arabic lessons in Sydney
The Most Important Element of your Education: Arabic Writing
Given that this lesson is so tricky for English speakers, there is a large portion of any Arabic language certification exam dedicated to this, beyond just crafting a text.
The exam focuses on spelling, syntactic letter change (quite common in Arabic), and choosing the right lexicon for the context, so the word is as important as the entire text at this stage.
When it comes to crafting the actual text, make sure to include a short introduction, a clear two-part plan, cohesive and synthesised content with examples, separate paragraphs for each argument, and one or two concluding sentences.
It is for this reason that writing is such a core focus, right from the very beginning of Arabic language education. This is precisely to get you used to not translating from English directly and will push you to become more comfortable in using the language adaptively.
Your tutor might also be able to offer you some digital resources, like an app or private learning technology that you can work within your own time, such as an online pen-pal system or letter memorisation programme.
The written part of an Arabic exam is so instrumental to showing your understanding of the language since it demonstrates your ability to critically reflect and synthesise ideas in the foreign tongue, as well as your comprehension of the ways grammar and vocab can impact this. Such a component should also be very informative for your university admission, should you want to pursue Arabic after school.
So do not neglect it as it could be the difference that gets you a place at the university you want.