Skip to main content Skip to main content

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

Arabic: How We Spend Our Free Time

Grade 8, Arabic I: In a unit on hobbies, Katie Quackenbush’s novice-level students practice asking and answering questions about what they like to do in their free time. In a small-group activity, students picks a card and asks classmates whether they like doing the activity pictured. Students then poll one another about their free-time activities.



Katie Quackenbush


Arabic I




Boston Latin Academy, Boston, Massachusetts

Lesson Date

May 8

Class Size



47 minutes daily


اضغط هنا للترجمة باللغة العربية

Video Summary

In this lesson, eighth graders in Katie Quackenbush’s Arabic I class continue a unit on hobbies and practice asking and answering questions using “you” and “I.” Ms. Quackenbush reviews the lesson agenda with the class and starts students off with a speaking activity in which students in groups pass around a paper bag as music plays. When the music stops, the student holding the bag picks a card from the bag and asks a classmate whether he or she likes doing the activity pictured on it. Ms. Quackenbush assesses student understanding of unit vocabulary and subject-verb agreement in their questions and responses, and provides corrective feedback. After the game, students survey classmates about whether they enjoy doing certain activities in their free time and create a bar graph using the data they have collected. Then Ms. Quackenbush tells students that in the next class they will compare their free-time activities with those of students in Saudi Arabia.

Standards Addressed

Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretive

Comparisons: Language



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.

learner-centered classroom
A classroom in which a teacher works with students to develop, implement, and evaluate learning goals based on students’ interests and unique needs. In this way, students have a voice not only in what they learn but also in why, when, how, and with whom they learn it. In a learner-centered classroom, the teacher facilitates rather than instructs, allowing learners greater opportunity to collaborate with peers in the target language.

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 Web site in General Resources.

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 are some of the different approaches you can take in modeling a task?
  • How can you incorporate communication into beginning-level classes whose students may not have expansive vocabulary knowledge?
  • How can you help make these activities more interpersonal and authentic so that students feel like they have a reason to negotiate meaning?

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.

  • Hearing Authentic Voices (Spanish) shows students using all three modes of communication as they prepare for a conversation with native speakers about how they spend their free time.
  • Daily Routines (Japanese) shows students working together to practice vocabulary related to daily routines and making comparisons between two different cultures.
  • Making Plans (Arabic) shows students engaged in authentic conversations about what activities they will be doing in the future.

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.

  • For homework, have students make a photo story of how they spend their free time. Each student should take pictures that represent their favorite hobbies and activities and caption them in the target language. They could then present their photo stories to the class.
  • Ms. Quackenbush has students engage in cultural comparisons about how both Saudi Arabian and American students spend their free time. Identify communities of native speakers nearby that could connect with the students in your area and invite a member of the community to teach a microlesson about a popular hobby or activity in the target culture. Alternatively, plan a joint activity between your students and students of that community to engage in a hobby together. For example, have students play culturally appropriate card games together or a game of soccer. If you do not have access to communities of native speakers, take time to do a hands-on activity related to a popular hobby in your target culture so students can experience it for themselves.
  • Use Total Physical Response (TPR) to introduce the vocabulary for a unit on hobbies or free-time activities. Because many of these activities have clear movements associated with them, they are especially well suited to TPR. Once the movements are well established, you can use TPR Storytelling to make the target vocabulary come alive for your students. Lead your students interactively through the story-creation process, where you use movement and TPRS questioning techniques to actively engage them in the storytelling process. After the story, reinforce the vocabulary further by providing your students with recall activities. Finally, give the students a reading activity aligned with the story in class so the vocabulary can be listened to, acted out, spoken, and seen.


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.

Interpretive Communication

Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.

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

Language Comparisons

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



Lesson Materials

اضغط هنا للترجمة باللغة العربية

Lesson Agenda (PDF)
Slides that Ms. Quackenbush presented and reviewed with students at the beginning of the class

Do Now Graph: What Saudi Arabians Do in Their Free Time (PDF)
A bar graph with questions for student data interpretation

Free-Time Poll: Instructions and Interview Chart (PDF)
Instructions for interviewing classmates about their free-time activity preferences, and a chart for recording data

Free-Time Poll: Bar Graph Handout and Samples (PDF)
A blank graph with instructions for plotting interview data, and samples of student work

Infographic Miniproject: Assignment and Samples (PDF)
Instructions for completing the infographic miniproject assignment, and samples of student work


Curriculum References
Massachusetts Foreign Language Curriculum Framework (Aug. 1999)



Katie Quackenbush’s Additional Resources

Web Resources:

Al Jazeera: Learning Arabic
A source for simplified news articles. Each news article is accompanied by vocabulary words and different forms of assessment.

This Middle East Policy Council website is useful for learning about the culture and history of various Arab countries. It’s also an excellent resource for research projects.

Arabic Signs of Foreign Words
This site presents a collection of photographs of foreign signs in the Arab World transliterated into Arabic.

This YouTube channel contains a collection of songs and other videos geared to children.

Print Resources:

Standish, Sarah, Richard Cozzens, and Rana Abdul-Aziz. Jusoor: Beginning Arabic for High School (tentative title). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, forthcoming.

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