The first step of the project is done!
Language Needs Analysis (16 March – 31st March)
The first step of the ‘Welcoming Languages’ project is collecting the language needs of Scottish staff, Arabic speaking parents/carers and children in partner schools. The University of Glasgow team asks participants what language they think should be included in the course that will be taught to Scottish educators.
This is the first post of two that discusses the needs of each of the above group participants, starting with the Educators Needs Analysis.
We conducted focus group semi-structured interviews with Scottish educators in three schools. Over 30 educators were interested in taking part in this project. We asked them how they imagine themselves using Arabic with both Arabic-speaking children and Arabic-speaking parents/carers, and what they would like to be able to say. We also asked them to look at the set of topics currently included in the Online Arabic from Palestine (OAfP) course, which is a generic Arabic language course for beginners, and order them in terms of importance to the Scottish education context and their expected interactions within the school.
The Scottish educators all work in primary schools. They are class teachers, a headteachers, a few EAL teachers. Some of them work in other roles within the schools, such as family support staff and head of subject.
All educators agreed that they would like to be able to use Arabic to welcome new arrivals to their school and to get closer to their Arabic speaking students and parents/carers. Educators expressed their interest in learning how to greet parents/carers and children to make them feel ‘welcomed’ and ‘valued’ inside the school. All of the educators also agreed on using Arabic as a language of reassurance. They wanted to understand the feelings and emotions of their students and how to assure them in Arabic. They would like to learn expressions such as “what’s wrong?”, “Why are you sad”, “Are you OK?”, “Are you hurt?”, “What is it that is bothering you?” … etc. They are also very keen to learn how to soothe their students in their native language. This includes phrases like, “Do you want me to call your mum?”, “How can I help?”, “Do not worry”, and “It’s okay”. In addition, they would like to learn daily survival language including, “Do you want to go to the toilet?” and classroom-related instructions, as discussed below.
Teachers’ language needs differed from those who work with families in terms of the school routine. Teachers would like to learn how to say instructions for daily school activities in Arabic. For example, they would like to learn how to say, “sit down”, “come here”, “take your pen”, “write”, “play”, and some specific subject-related vocabulary such as mathematical language, “take away”, “add”, and “multiply” as they believe that their students are very capable in mathematics, but the language is their barrier.
Family support staff, on the other hand, were more interested in communicative language to be used with the parents. This contains language to help parents/carers enrol their children at school such as questions about age, place, date of birth, educational background, languages spoken at home… etc. Moreover, family support staff are keen to learn phrases to support parents and ask them if they require any help or specific dietary requirements when they come for parents’ meetings.
These language needs will be taken into consideration when adapting our existing Online Arabic from Palestine (OAfP) course to address the needs identified by this specific group of learners, and to meet their expectations. The Arabic course is due to start soon, so watch this space!