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Part of the Supplementary Schools Network, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Professional Reviews

Joanna Eastlake, Teacher Trainer, Centre for Excellence in Languages of the Wider World, S.O.A.S, University of London:

Spring 2009

Whenever I meet a member of the Arabic Club for Kids  - The Head, a teacher, parent or child – I am always impressed by their excitement and enthusiasm for this very remarkable Saturday school. When I visited the Club towards the end of last year  I was again struck by the vibrant atmosphere and by the children who were happily (and noisily!) engaged in activities where they learned to read, write and speak Arabic.  Rabab, the founder of the Club, has worked tirelessly for two years to bring together an energetic and skilled team of teachers and has developed a very effective approach to the teaching of community languages in Saturday schools. She has invested time and resources in providing further training for her teachers and in creating lively and colourful materials for children.

Before my visit to the Club I was aware how Rabab and the teachers organized the syllabus and the structure of the day. I was aware how children get to practice all 4 skills during the day with stories and graded readers (which Rabab and her colleagues have developed), acting, singing and chanting activities, outdoor games, and focused “settle” tasks around children’s Arabic satellite TV. But during my visit, it was really inspiring to see it all in action and everybody so involved and enjoying themselves. It was great to see the results too – children speaking, reading and writing Arabic with confidence.

In each classroom I visited, there were two sometimes three teachers, with one person leading and the others acting as helpers – usually through the medium of Arabic. Each lesson had a different focus. I went to a class where children were building their own play through Community Language Learning, another class where children were learning through Total Physical Response and another where they were having fun and practising Arabic through drama games.

I was also lucky enough to be at the Club when it was celebrating a special day of  culture. Parents had brought in food from different countries and some of the children and parents were dressed up in traditional clothes. The parents dropped into the Club at different times to share food, to chat and celebrate the day. This experience showed me again the members’ belief in the Club and the sense of community they feel. The Arabic Club for Kids is a really successful Saturday School and I’m looking forward to my next visit!

Nick Bilbrough, Language Teacher Trainer, S.O.A.S Language Centre, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Co-ordinator of language training courses, Horizon Language Training. May 2008

If I lived in London I would be very pleased for my children to attend Saturday Arabic classes at the Arabic Club for Kids in Kensington. I had the good fortune to observe for a whole day there recently and, from the moment I walked through the door, I found it to be a very stimulating and learning rich environment. With an engaging new curriculum developed through careful research into the latest ideas about language teaching methodology, I was impressed by the variety of learning activities available to the children. These included interactive reading and writing activities, focussed listening tasks whilst watching cartoons in Arabic, physical vocabulary games and a wide variety of other activities in the courtyard outside, innovative use of songs for teaching the alphabet and other aspects of language, and the use of drama and roleplay to develop speaking skills. 

There was a nice balance between whole group activities where learners were able to focus together on areas of language, and small group and individual work.
One activity that I found particularly effective was the use of learner log books. Here the children drew their own pictures to go with a particular sentence of their choosing in Arabic. This struck me as a very motivating way of making new language memorable.  Because of the high ratio of teachers to students during this activity, teachers were able to work with learners on an individual basis, scaffolding their talk and helping them with language areas that were specific to their individual needs.

Above all everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely- the kids and the teachers -and by the level of spoken Arabic that I heard it seemed that learning through the various activities and the focussed language games was a very effective strategy to adopt.  I look forward to visiting the centre again shortly.

 Dr Jeni Riley, Reader in Literacy in Primary Education, Institute of Education, University of London says:  September 2007

Shortly to open in Holland Park, The Arabic Club for Kids aims to offer 5-8 year olds opportunities to learn Arabic in a child-friendly way and supplements the children’s wider educational experience. A stimulating, well-equipped environment and the use of high quality resources will supplement the unique teaching approach specially designed for the Arabic Club pupils.

The Director and Founder of the ‘Club’, Dr Rabab Hamiduddin, Arabic teacher/research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, has taken pains to employ specially selected staff committed to her particular teaching approach. Under her expert direction, the staff have developed a meaningful, activity-based and relevant curriculum through which the children will learn Arabic, alongside developing their understanding of Arabic culture and geography. This teaching approach capitalises on current research evidence on the most effective ways that young children learn in order to maximize their chances of success and enjoyment specifically when learning an additional language. Currently all staff are attending courses designed by leading academics in the field on theories of language and literacy development, and  how to provide motivating, successful language learning experiences for this age-group.

Joanna Eastlake, Teacher Trainer, Centre for Excellence in Languages of the Wider World, S.O.A.S, University of London said:

“When Rabab first told me about the Arabic Club for Kids, I was very struck by her enthusiasm and commitment to the project. She has invested considerable time and resources in creating lively and colourful materials for children and in providing further training for her team of experienced Arabic teachers. At the same time Rabab has taken time to develop an exciting approach to the teaching of community languages in Saturday schools.

The syllabus and the structure of the day at the Arabic Club for Kids is extremely well thought out to cater for children's learning styles and to make learning fun. There is an excellent balance of stir-settle activities from kinaesthetic outdoor games to focussed tasks around watching Arabic satellite television. The regular routine of the Club covers the four skills each week, and Rabab has introduced graded readers for young learner beginners of Arabic. These readers provide regular repetitions of vocabulary so that learners begin to recognise words both visually and aurally.

Rabab is inviting parents from Arabic and non-Arabic speaking backgrounds alike to bring their children to the Arabic Club for Kids. I imagine that it will be a positive experience for any child and I am looking forward to visiting the Club in October.”

Published in 'Primary Times' magazine, West London, September 2007.