Students gathered Tuesday night in Goulet for the second of a series of Arabic classes, put on by the Muslim Student Association. Taught by Abdelaziz AlSharawy "Zizo" '16 from Egypt, these classes are optional but available to all students free of cost.
Zizo's method of teaching is a combination of speaking and writing lessons in Arabic, as well as a bit of culture associated with the Arabic language. This may seem like any other language class you could take, except that Zizo welcomes and encourages feedback from those who participate in the classes. "Let me know if there is anything you want to learn to say in Arabic, or if you want to focus more on one thing than another,” he emphasized, "I'll teach you what you want to learn."
Zizo started off the class with Arabic greetings and the alphabet. "I say Al Salaam Alaykom and you reply Alykom Al Salaam," Zizo said at the start of the class. "You can say this to anyone who speaks Arabic and they will understand it as a friendly greeting." Zizo conversed back and forth with the class, and also had students converse with each other in Arabic, practicing what they learned.
Zizo handed the class an Arabic alphabet and went over it with everyone. The students in the room were a mixture of those new to the class and returners. Zizo wrote the Arabic alphabet on the white board, emphasizing the importance of pitch and diction in pronouncing Arabic letter sounds. Zizo had a lot of "repeat after me" exercises to make sure everyone could pronounce the words, usually ending up in giggles until the students pronounced it correctly.
Some students pronounced the different sounds with ease while others had a bit of difficulty. Joe Donahue '13 had a bit of trouble with some letters. "I'm getting the pronunciation confused," Donahue said, "You’re mixing up three different letters" Zizo said to him with a laugh, "You’ll get it." Zizo’s reassuring attitude and sense of humor helped students learn in a very carefree environment with no pressure.
Zizo is hoping to have a solid Arabic class as a foundation for students to speak basic conversations with each other and to really progress. The class meets every Tuesday night at 6:00 and is open to all members of the Saint Anselm College community.
Editor's Note: Photo by Tam Dong '15.