Similar to what we did with Scottish educators (discussed in detail in the previous post), we met the Arabic speaking parents/carers and their children. We asked them what “Arabic” they would love to hear/see in Scottish schools.
We conducted semi-structured focus group interviews with Arabic speaking parents and their children. After introducing the project idea and asking all parents/careers and children how they felt about it, all children gathered around two of the researchers to discuss what they would love to hear/see in Arabic inside their schools, and what they would like to teach their classmates and teachers in Arabic. Verbal language was not the only way we used to get the answers from children, but we also used visual posters where the children drew, wrote and coloured the most important phrases or linguistic skills they thought their educators should learn in Arabic.
In the same room, the third researcher gathered with the parents/carers and discussed the questions multilingually, using Arabic and English to hear their reflections on the project’s idea, and what they would love to hear/see in Arabic in their interactions with school staff.
Similar to what we found in staff needs analysis, both parents/carers and children were very keen to see their educators able to greet and welcome them in their own language as a very first step of breaking the ice between them, and a step to getting closer to them in their own native tongue.
Feelings and emotions seem to be important to all three groups as well. Children wanted to know how to express their emotions to their teachers and wanted their teachers to understand and support them in sensitive situations, bypassing the language barriers between them. The parents too mentioned that they wanted to know if something wrong happened to their children. They wanted to understand what happened, so they can come to the school immediately without the extra time that might be wasted while looking for an interpreter.
Parents wanted to ask about their children’s performance and behaviour at school too. They also mentioned they would love to see Arabic included as a school subject in the future and for it to be officially recognised through certification.
Children included many different topics such as colours, animal names, fruit, vegetables, days of the week, school objects, and the alphabet. These topics, as mentioned by one of the teachers, are similar to what the students learn themselves in the English as Additional Language (EAL) classes. The school staff need to become learners like them!
All needs analysis collected from Scottish staff, parents/carers and children are all taken crucial to adapt the OPAC course so that it meets the needs of Scottish educators and Arabic speaking family and children.