For families raising children in a non arabophone environment, the questions are quite numerous. We will try to answer as many as we can below. Also, please feel free to email us your questions and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.
Q- I want my child to learn Arabic but I am afraid it is going to confuse my 6 year old because she has just started learning to write and read.
Studies have shown that learning a second language at a young age can only be to the benefit of the child. Teaching a language such as Arabic which is different from a western language such as French or English is much easier and less confusing for the child to learn since the writing and pronunciation are completely different.
Q- My child does not answer me in Arabic but I know he/she understands everything I say.
This is a very normal reaction! Our children feel awkward speaking a different language than the rest of the world he is living in. On the other hand, children are perfectionists, if he thinks his pronunciation is weak or if he does not find the correct word he will not even try.
One solution would be to make him feel he belongs to a special community; this is one of the reasons Alef, b… has been created. Show him how to live in Arabic not only speak Arabic. There are certain things you can express only in Arabic. Teach him all the new words in Arabic first.
Q- I can’t speak the language very well, my spouse is away most of the time. How are we going to make it?
Force yourself to speak at least half an hour of Arabic everyday with your child. Look up the words in the dictionary alone or together, it will make your child more familiar with it. Choose a period during the day where you would only speak Arabic such as bath time for example.
Q- On Saturdays, my kids are enrolled in other extra curricular activities, therefore they don’t have time to join Alef,b... workshops
This is very simple. It is a question of setting up your priorities with your child. Besides, at Alef, b…, we make sure to introduce several different activities in our program. Kids will be exposed to dance (the Lebanese Dabke), music (songs and instruments), crafts, board games, field trips to the zoo or museums for example, acting in plays, etc...