Inclusion of Qur’anic excerpts in Arabic programs;
1. Objectives for Arabic and Islamic subjects need to be different.
Program developers should always keep their goals for the Arabic program distinct from their goals for Islamic subjects. More importantly, students, should be able to perceive that the goals of their Arabic subject are similar to the goals of their English language subjects and different to the goals of their Islamic subjects.
Therefore, an Arabic program should not focus on memorization of verses and/or their recitation but should focus on the comprehension of the content of the verses when read and heard.
Additionally, while Islamic subjects at schools introduce the Qur’an to young learners for recitation and memorization an Arabic program should not follow the same approach.
2. Careful selection of excerpts;
- Excerpts should be part of a contextualized “narrative”. Research highlights the huge role context plays in reading comprehension. Therefore, verses being introduced should be part of a sequential narrative. Usually verses that relay stories are good choices for contextual support. Narratives present good opportunities for identifying points of reference and identification of coherence and cohesion tools. Moreover, the narrative verses lend themselves better to communicative activities.
- If excerpts are introduced at schools then they should be age appropriate. They should not be about complex matters of jurisprudence or conjugal relations for example.
3. We should not teach to the excerpt but teach language and introduce an appropriate excerpt.
In the same way that we should not be teaching to the test, we should not be teaching to the excerpt. Excerpts should be introduced after incremental learning of the target language items has occurred over a period of teaching and deemed acquired through coursework activities and/or assessment. Material could be slightly above the students' level but comprehension should not be contingent on teachers' translation.
Possible classroom activities;
- Story jumbles: Teacher prepares strips of paper with events from the story narrated by the Qur’anic excerpt. The strips should be written in contemporary Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). The strips are jumbled and given to the students who work together to put them in an order that corresponds to the verses in the excerpt.
- Re-writing or retelling of the story: Students are seated in groups of 5. Each group is informed that they should first work individually on writing 5 sentences about the story in their own words. After that they should share their sentences with their own group. The students in the group collectively select 1 sentence from each person. Once they have selected the 5 sentences. They retell the story to the class.
- Conversation starters: Students are seated in groups. Each student in the group is given card with a verse from the excerpt. Their collective goal is to identify which verse they are each holding and to put them in order. However, they need to do this by asking and answering questions without using obvious words from the verse itself.
- Vocabulary hunts: 2 sets of definition cards are prepared by the teacher and hidden in the classroom / building (each set should be written on different colour cards). Students are divided into two competing groups. They are given “treasure maps” that include clues written in Arabic to help them find the hidden definition cards. The group that finds all the meanings first wins.
- Mini show and tell task: Students are seated in groups. Each student is given a picture based on the verses. They are asked to describe the picture to students in their group.
- Big show and tell: Students are asked to get into groups of 5. As a group they will use 15 minutes of their class time over the period of 5 sessions. They are expected to prepare a poster with snippets of information, pictures, maps etc. relating to the verses. They can use the internet or other classroom resources. They show and tell to the class in Arabic after the 5th session.
- Re-enactments: This can be done in accordance with religious sensitivities. The roles of prophets can be told in the third person by a narrator; “and so the noble Prophet said”.