My search for resources to teach my daughter Arabic language is an ongoing process and can frankly become obsessive. I have to admit that I spend a sizable chunk of my time looking for new tools and ways to make it as fun and efficient as possible with the highest learning quality. I am a firm believer in learning through play and engaging sensory and motor skills to engrave the information in the brain.
I can not count the times when I cringe at the sight of some Arabic children books or teaching methods: the typos, the common mistakes (such as the tanween تنوين ), using arabized word to explain a letter such as chakalatta/Chocolate/شكلاطا for the letter sheen ش), unclear methodology such as showing a the picture of a face to teach about eyebrows without pointing any arrow to the subject or teaching the color brown yet the printed color on the page is orange with red polka dots. I can go on and on.
The more I explored these resources, the more frustrated I became; and then it happened. I have stumbled over a site called Arabic Playground, click here to explore it. I have been using some of their products for the past 4 weeks and I love them.
Here are 10 reasons why I love this site:
1 - It is an online resources with downloadable sheets: that you can access anywhere in the world and once you purchase a product, you can print copies as many times as you wish. You can pass it on from one child to another just by hitting that print button. You can even make it more fun by printing on colored paper! I think we all experienced how kids seem to have forgotten all that they have studied during the year once summer is over. I think that you can overcome this hurdle, especially when dealing with learning languages, by repeating some of the sheets during the summer. The kids do not feel overwhelmed with learning something new, so you can probably convince them that "you already did that, this time it will be very easy". It works with my daughter Alya and in fact, not only it reinforces the knowledge but also the self-esteem component. kids will feel better about themselves when they feel that they have mastered a certain skill. I often remind her of the time she found it hard and insurmountable and how easy it is now. No one said that parenting is an easy task, it is a continuous process.
2 - It has a curriculum that links the pieces of information together by focusing on accumulation of knowledge every time you finish a sheet. The same style continues and by the end, your child has acquired necessary information about phonetics, shape of the letters, reading and writing.
3 - It follows same fun teaching methods that we use in North America. For example circling the different positions of a certain letter, or coloring the things that start with a certain letter or group things that end in a certain letter. I think that the kids find reassurance in this familiarity and are able to engage easily with the sheets and thus learn better.
4 - In addition to the Arabic Playground curriculum, it is a platform where other teachers can sell their own sheets and thus you can get exposed to other ways of teaching or areas that you feel are more suitable to your needs.
5 - It is a one stop shop where you can also purchase physical books and games to supplement the sheets.
6 - It allows you to read reviews and rate the products and then having a voice that will eventually push the sellers to address your needs. You can also read the reviews left by others parents like you and make a more informative decision when buying products. I need to point that reviews can only be successful when parents who use the products will actually leave a review. The more parents leave reviews, the stronger the community will become.
7 - It allows you to preview a sample of some of the products and that will give you a better idea on the suitability of the product to your needs. This feature is not available for all their products, but I think that they have plans to work on that.
8 - It gives you age appropriateness information although sometimes age is not a decisive matter when you are learning a new language.
9 - It supports the parents with fantastic customer service. At one point in time, I was unable to download a FREE product, I emailed the customer service and within minutes received a reply and solved my problem and this is related to a free product, so imagine when you have an inquiry about a paid product.
10 - It is affordable, most sheets cost around $3 which puts them in a fair comparison to other sites that sell Math or English Language sheets.
I am very serious about ensuring that my daughter will grow up speaking, reading and writing Arabic Language and I believe that daily exposure is the key to keep it interesting and relevant. I have been using Arabic Playground for 4 weeks now and I can already feel that I am given the tools to succeed; the rest is on me and my child and we are both committed.
In the following weeks, I will review some of the products that I have used, how I have used them and what I really think about them. Stay tuned!
Disclaimer: I have received products from Arabic Playground in exchange of my honest review of these products. My opinions are honest and express my own unaltered review of the products.
These photos are my property, you do not have the right to use any photo on this blog without my explicit written permission.
Nadine Ismail of Reinventing Nadine; is a blogger living in the Bay Area in California. She documents on her blog www.reinventingnadine.com her journey from an executive single woman living in Beirut, Lebanon to a housewife, mom and an entrepreneur living in the US. Nadine shares her recipes, crafts tutorial, embroidery, parental advice especially raising a bilingual child. Nadine will be testing and reviewing our Arabic Playground products so you can make a more informative decision. Join us and check out our weekly blog.