Engaging Kids to improve their Arabic at Home

So we’re all stuck at home, our lives changed dramatically for the forseable future. Many of us weren’t prepared and after making an effort to make the most of our new reality, we are begining to wane. We’re juggling school work, working from home, and trying to stay sane on top!

One of the best things we can do now is try to take it easy. We can also try to make the most out of being our kids’ primary source of communication, learning and entertainment. Before their lives may have been dominated with English at school, at clubs, activities and with friends. Now we have the chance to expose them to as much Arabic as we can. By talking to them, playing with them and reading with them.

I’ve listed my favourite ways of integrating Arabic into our daily lives. Not just during lockdown, but also when life goes back to normal. I’ve tried and tested these during the current lockdown, as well as over the years I’ve spent parenting and teaching. None are in any way sponsored.

1. Watching Disney films dubbed into Arabic

It’s a shame many new Disney films are being dubbed into Standard Arabic, rather than the more lighthearted Egyptian dialect, but some of our old favourites never fail to entertain. Our absolute favourites are Monsters, Toy Story, Nemo and Rapunzel. Bring out the popcorn and some blankets, cosy up on the sofa and enjoy!

2. Reading our favourite Arabic books and discovering new ones

We are always on the lookout for new books to add to our library, and this is currently our favourite new book: أ خ خ خ by Manar Hazaaa at Alia. We love the way it is so cleverly written that it can read as both Standard and Spoken Arabic, and the story is so simple yet engaging for children of all ages – and parents too!

3. Playing our favourite Arabic boardgames

We love all the games from Daradam and especially their new Vokalimat game, with its impeccable design and quality. We played it in class and at home, and found it really adaptable to suit a range of ages and abilities, so it’s a winner in our house!

4. Repurposing our favourite games into Arabic

Simple games like I Spy become أنا شايف حاجة بتبدأ بحرف الـ or for younger children شايف حاجة لونها never fail to entertain. Dig up favourite games and boardgames and simply play them in Arabic. A guaranteed way to build up vocabulary and conversation skills in a fun way.

5. Rediscovering our favourite Arabic kids’ songs

Especially for younger children, I’ve compiled a great list of sings we sing at home and in class. Loads of free songs are available online, from ShamsenaAdam w MishmishMarah KG and many more!

6. Dancing to Arabic music

A great way to connect with older children and reconnect with our own youth. Choose your favourite Arabic songs to introduce to your children and get jamming!

7. Cooking and baking traditional Arabic foods

What better way to the heart than through the stomach? And with so many delicious options do you really need an excuse to get cooking? Get the kids rolling those koftas and shredding that konafa! If you’re stuck for recipes or ideas, there are some great ones here.

Don’t forget to use the activity as a chance to speak more Arabic and introduce new vocabulary. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to retell stories and precious memories from your own childhood.

8. Practising simple conversations in Arabic

If you’ve gotten into the habit of speaking English, or your kids have with you, now’s the time to recalibrate. Start with simple requests whenever thay ask for something and use simple words like momkin? and shokran.

If you speak Arabic together already, it’s a nice opportunity to talk about new topics. Ask them about their opinions, thoughts and feelings and maybe even start an Arabic journal or diary!

9. Video calling friends and relatives

Take their Arabic conversation practice further by getting them to show off their newly-aqcuired skills with friends and relatives. What better way to harness technology and connect while in lockdown or isolation, and put our language skills into practice?

10. Utilising online courses

There are some great online courses and apps to try, but I find it hard to commit without a specific time like with a physical class.

And since we’re all at home now, our own classes are moving online for the time being. So if you’ve been wanting to try out our classes, now is the perfect time to sign up! Just pop us an email or fill in the contact form to get started!