October 21, 2009 | Arabic

Playing Cards—Flashcards, That Is

We play Arabic flashcard games in my English class.

I taught at the Arab American Association today. Three students and I spent part of our session playing card games with my Arabic-English flashcards. It was a great idea, I think—so much fun!

Site of the Flashcard Card Playing

The principal game was that a student would pick a card from the top of the stack of flashcards, look at the word in English, say it, and translate it into Arabic. They did pretty well.

My team, on the other hand—which consisted of me—did not do so well. I didn’t know most of the words in that stack. Therefore, my task became just to try to pronounce the word correctly.

This turned out to be very helpful, since I really need reading practice. In fact, the 18-year-old student (she is the 17-year-old I’ve alluded to previously but has since had a birthday) kept handing me everyone else’s cards, too, even when it wasn’t my turn, and demanding, “Read!” in order to give me extra practice. It was funny, bossy, and extremely sweet, all at the same time.

In the end, I didn’t do all that badly and was able to make reasonable guesses at absent vowel sounds (these flashcards have no diacritical marks for vowels). I’m not really sure how I managed that.

At the beginning of the game, I told the students that they would each get a point if they got an answer right, whereas if I got an answer right, I would get 100 points. They laughed. Seriously, though, that proportion was about right, because they knew a significant percentage of the English words in that box, whereas I could recognize only a small number of the Arabic.

Towards the end of class we read a brief article about a 104-year-old woman who has a huge following on Twitter. The two younger students hadn’t heard of Twitter, even though one of them is on Facebook. That surprised me.

At one point, I commented about something relating to an Arabic word or sound (don’t remember which): “That’s hard.” One of the students, 21, said—a little impatiently, I thought—“Everything is hard.” Meaning, as I understood her, that I complain too much.

Hmm. Could be.

Post a Comment