Arabic is a beautiful and complex language, and learning it is no easy feat. Learning it on your own certainly doesn't make it any easier, especially coming from a non-Arab background.
As a Muslim, I fell in love with Arabic rather quickly, and it was always an adventure learning new words and grammatical structures every now and then. I didn't have a teacher, and no one in my family knew Arabic. My family spoke Urdu, in fact, which is very similar to Hindi, but still quite different from Arabic. However, I learned quite a bit from YouTube, books on Arabic grammar, and the Qur'an. After about two years of self-learning at a slow and steady pace, however, I seemed to have reached a plateau. I just couldn't figure out how to advance my skills.
In the Fall 2016 semester, I would often tutor students in physics, and one of my best students really enjoyed my teaching style. In fact, she recommended that I teach Arabic at NUCALLS the next semester. I had taught physics for a while, so teaching wasn't necessarily an issue for me, but teaching Arabic was a relatively new experience. I taught some kids over the summer at the mosque, but I had never taught Arabic to a classroom full of college students. After some thought, I agreed to give it a shot, since this was a pretty rare opportunity, and it seemed like an excellent opportunity to build on my own skills and teach others.
By Spring 2017 I had taught my first class, and I was so glad that I did. The students were awesome, the NUCALLS staff was very professional and easy to work with, and the experience was like nothing I had seen before. Every week, I prepared a lesson and entered a classroom full of students who were ready to learn. It was a little tough getting the hang of the classroom dynamic at first, but by Week 3 or 4, I felt like I had really solid grasp on how to be a teacher, and the students were really engaged because they wanted to be there.
" The NUCALLS community is so large and welcoming, and I made many new friends on the way. "
On a personal level, I had learned so much Arabic, even just by teaching the beginner's class. Each week, the students challenged me by asking questions and pushing me to really teach the underlying principles of the language. This was the experience that I really needed. Teaching at NUCALLS was the catalyst I had been looking for, and I look forward to teaching again in the Fall!