Imagine you are a language teacher. Your students come from all over the world. Places like Australia, the US, Germany, Holland, England, Latin America, and South Korea. Their ages range between 17 to 55. Some have college degrees, others have never studied beyond high school. Some are single, others are married, others are married with children living at home, and others are empty nesters.
Some have studied and speak numerous foreign languages, for others this is the first language (other than their native tongue) they’ve studied in an academic setting.
Some of your students have chosen to come and study your language on their own freewill; others are being required to do so by their employer and didn’t have a choice in the matter.
No matter the age or experience of the student, every single one of them are living way outside their cultural comfort zone. They are living in a new place with new norms, new patterns, new customs, and new ways of fitting in.
Now mix one final ingredient in this educational stew: the language you are teaching is one of the most difficult languages to read, write and speak on the planet. Some say it takes at least 10 years of diligent study to be even close to fluent.
In my humble opinion, this is real teaching. This is higher education at a whole other level. This is the setting for the teachers I recently worked with.
They are working under extraordinary circumstances and parameters. Their student base is as diverse as any I have ever witnessed. But year after year, they pump out graduates who are exceptionally capable at speaking Arabic. For nearly 60 years, the program has graduated thousands of students who are ready for continued work and service in the middle east and in the Arabic-speaking world.
They are truly dedicated teachers who make my job look VERY EASY!