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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

Arabic: Comparing the Weather

Arabic Grade 6: Wael Fawzy’s class learns about the weather in the Arab world and practices speaking and writing using dialects. Mr. Fawzy shows slides of the weather in Chicago and Egypt and asks students about the weather in each place and then has them develop questions of their own.



Wael Fawzy






LaSalle II Magnet Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois

Lesson Date

April 6

Class Size



45 minutes, 4 times a week

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Video Summary

In this lesson, Mr. Fawzy’s sixth-grade class continues to learn about the weather in the Arab world and to practice speaking and writing using Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) infused with dialects. Mr. Fawzy begins by showing slides that describe the weather in Egypt and in Chicago. He asks students questions about the weather in each place and then has them develop questions of their own using different dialects they have been practicing. Next, the class is divided into two groups for a timed presentational activity. Each group member compares the weather in a picture they chose to the weather in an Arab country in the same season. Then students complete a worksheet, labeling eight different pictures using Modern Standard Arabic or a dialect with a brief description of the weather shown. The class ends with another writing activity. Students write down a question based on the weather and trade questions with another student. They will read the question and answer it at home.


Standards Addressed

Communication: Interpersonal, Presentational

Cultures: Practices

Comparisons: Cultural


A form of a language used among people who live in the same geographical area or who share the same social identity. While language instruction traditionally emphasizes a “standard” form of a language, to more effectively communicate linguistically and culturally, instruction should also incorporate dialect elements within the curriculum to reflect the actual/authentic ways in which people communicate day-to-day.

Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES)
This elementary school model organizes instruction around a scope and sequence taught by a qualified foreign language teacher. Its goals include developing language proficiency with an emphasis on oral skills, as well as providing a gradual introduction to literacy, building cultural knowledge, and tying language learning to the content of the early grades’ curriculum. FLES programs vary, especially in the number of meetings per week or minutes per session.

informal assessme
During an informal assessment, a teacher evaluates students’ progress while they are participating in a learning activity, for example, a small-group discussion. Results are typically used to make decisions about what to do next, namely, whether the students are ready to move on or whether they need more practice with the material.

thematic units
Thematic units are designed using content as the organizing principle. Vocabulary, structures, and cultural information are included as they relate to the themes in each unit. For an excellent example of theme-based units, see the Nebraska Foreign Language Education.

Connecting to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice

As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.

  • What different techniques do you use to give feedback to your students?
  • How do you design guidelines for presentations so that they are student-led and student-centered?
  • How do you prepare your students so that they will be able to communicate with native speakers from a variety of places?

Watch Other Videos

Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you’ve just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.

  • Making Plans (Arabic) shows students engaged in authentic conversations, in this case about routine activities they will be doing later in the day.
  • Performing with Confidence (French) illustrates how students draw on prior research and discuss and compare the French system of government and elections to those of the United States.
  • Russian Cities, Russian Stories (Russian) addresses issues in working with heritage students.

Put It Into Practice

Try these ideas in your classroom. Where it’s not already evident, reflect on how to adapt an idea that targets one performance range for application to other performance ranges.

  • When teaching about different dialects in your target language, have your students practice how to negotiate meaning. In the real world, native speakers of different dialects often have to interact with one another and come to an understanding despite differences in their languages. One way native speakers handle these differences is by asking each other questions for clarification. Teach your students to ask the following questions and have them practice using them in class:
    • “What do you mean by ‘__‘?”
    • “What is ‘_____‘ like in your dialect?”
    • “Do you mean ‘_____‘?”

    By practicing these conversations when discussing dialects, you are giving your students the tools to handle a real-world issue that faces native and nonnative speakers: encountering people who speak differently than they do.

  • After teaching a unit on weather, make sure to return to its vocabulary in other units. For example, when teaching a unit on clothes, have your students advise each other on what they should wear based on the weather forecast. When teaching a unit on foods, discuss how the seasons affect what we like to eat and what foods can be grown. Have your students research what kind of weather conditions different fruits and vegetables need in order to grow. Recycling vocabulary allows you to add complexity to new lessons while reinforcing previously learned material.


World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages create a roadmap to guide learners to develop competence to communicate effectively and interact with cultural understanding. This lesson correlates to the following Standards:

Communicate effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes

Interpersonal Communication

Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, or written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions.

Presentational Communication

Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.

Interact with cultural competence and understanding

Relating Cultural Practices to Perspectives

Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the cultures studied.

Develop insight into the nature of language and culture in order to interact with cultural competence

Cultural Comparisons

Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.


Lesson Materials

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Timed Round-Robin Activity (PDF)
A description of how Mr. Fawzy led the presentational activity featured in the classroom video

Wael Fawzy’s Additional Resources

Web Resources:

An online resource for Arabic language and Arab culture teaching materials, opportunities, news, and events relevant to both teachers and students, produced by Qatar Foundation International (QFI).

Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices


Teaching Foreign Languages K–12: Teaching Arabic © 2016 Annenberg Learner and Qatar Foundation International. All rights reserved.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2