Feb 15 2009
Here is the second enrichment I did for my MESA 201 class last semester.
MESA 201–2nd Enrichment
I live in the FLSR, or Foreign Language Student Residence. As a FLSR-ite, I live with five other roommates who all speak the target language when in the apartment. The target language for our apartment is Arabic. My roommate is a Catholic Palestinian from Jerusalem, and my other roommates are all enrolled in Arabic 201. Having completed the study abroad experience, which includes all of the third year classes, I am the most advanced speaker in our house not counting the RF. I am the most advanced LDS speaker in our house.
For church in the FLSR, all the apartments or language houses are all included in the same ward. We have Sacrament Meeting, Priesthood, and Relief Society all in English, but for Sunday School we divide up by language. As the most advanced LDS speaker in our house, my calling this year is Sunday School teacher for the Arabic Sunday School classes.
I decided, when I received this calling, to use the Gospel Principles manual instead of the Gospel Doctrine manual. The Gospel Doctrine manuals have been translated into Arabic, but the language level of these classes is much more advanced than any of us in the class (including me). Also, I feel that before we can learn and talk about the advanced gospel topics, we need to have a firm understanding of the basic gospel principles as described in the language and vocabulary of Arabic. There are many gospel principles that do not translate readily from Arabic to English, due to the Muslim–Christian culture split. Some of these concepts include “fall,” “atonement,” “savior,” “restoration,” “grace,” “inspiration,” “godhead,” etc. All of these basic concepts are addressed in Gospel Principles before Gospel Doctrine, so I decided to focus on the Gospel Principles lessons first. In turn, this has helped me to greatly expand my own Arabic church vocabulary.
Also, I decided to use church hymns as extensively in the class as I could. I have a copy of the Amman Jordan branch hymnbook that my sister copied when she lived in Jordan in 2007. I have made copies of various hymns and we sing one of these each period at the beginning of class. Through song and music, we are also coming to appreciate Arabic and the Arabic translations of the hymns we know so well.
My role as Sunday School teacher is to teach the gospel, not teach the language. However, I have on many occasions had to teach principles of Arabic in order for the class to understand what I’m talking about. The times when this was most successful, and when the spirit was present in the classroom the strongest, was when I was able to express the same concept multiple times in different words and phrases. The linguistic limitations of my students have forced me to think and rethink gospel principles, often on the spot, in order to express them more clearly in ways they can understand. This has not only increased my appreciation of the gospel, it has helped me to deepen my language skills.
In short, teaching Arabic Sunday School has enriched my language learning experience through expanding my vocabulary, deepening my appreciation of Arabic song, and forcing me to learn how to express complex ideas in simpler, clearer words and phrases.