The English Language Fellow based in Manama, Bahrain, Saada Muntasser, recently drew upon her expertise in the Arabic language and Arab culture to offer a crucial training for English-language teachers and other Fellows. She delivered a presentation on how easy it is to misconstrue the needs and challenges of Arab English-language learners by viewing them as a monolithic group. Muntasser’s presentation, entitled “Arab Learners of English: Which Arab?” discusses the various Non-Standard Arabic (NSA) dialects and how they differ from Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), while focusing on language-teaching and -learning implications. Muntasser’s presentation also discusses how often research studies inaccurately reference first-language transfer for Arab learners of English and their frequent failure to clarify which Arabic dialect is being discussed. The presentation concludes with a mention of the PARSNIP (Politics, Alcohol, Religion, Sex, Narcotics, Ideology, and Pork) cultural teaching method and the use of appropriate authentic materials in classes. As Mutasser’s colleague, Jennifer Borch—herself an English Language Fellow in Morocco—said, “The PARSNIP method has helped me better understand my Arab students and has encouraged the students themselves to participate and discuss their views on each element.”
Mina Gavell was an English Language Fellow in Uzbekistan from 2018-2020. Her project consisted of teaching lesson planning and assessment to fourth-year pre-service teachers and reading and writing to undergraduates.