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

Arabic: Making Plans

Grades 9–12, Arabic V/VI: Students converse about what they will be doing in the future, in pairs and expanding to a group of four. Belal Joundeya presents a scenario in which two celebrities negotiate their busy schedules to agree on a dinner date, and then he role plays a similar situation with a student volunteer.



Belal Joundeya


Arabic V/VI




Lincoln High School, Portland, Oregon

Lesson Date

March 8

Class Size



92 minutes, 2–3 times per week

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Video Summary

In this lesson, high school students in Belal Joundeya’s Arabic V/VI class engage in authentic conversations about what they will be doing in the future. After first reviewing unit vocabulary as a class, students play a card game that involves talking about what they will be doing after school. Next, Mr. Joundeya presents a make-believe scenario in which two celebrities negotiate their busy schedules to agree on a dinner date. Mr. Joundeya role-plays a similar situation with a student volunteer. Then, students plan their own afterschool meetings, first in pairs and then in a group of four. Before class concludes, students extend their practice by writing emails to a native speaker, their “friend” Sami in Lebanon.

Standards Addressed

Communication: Interpersonal

Cultures: Practices

Communities: School and Community


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.

informal assessment
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.

negotiation of meaning
In this process, teachers and students try to convey information to one another and reach mutual comprehension through restating, clarifying, and confirming information. The teacher may help students get started or work through a stumbling block using linguistic and other approaches.

Connect to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice

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

  • How can you design activities to encourage students to produce longer chunks of language (sentence- and paragraph-level discourse)?
  • How do you sequence learning? Do you start with the skills you want the students to be able to demonstrate and design projects and activities around them? Or do you plan the culminating project and work backwards, thinking of what skills that will necessitate? What are the benefits and disadvantages of each approach?
  • How can you use heritage speakers and more advanced students as resources in your classroom? How can you differentiate curriculum to ensure that they are also benefiting from activities in class?

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.

  • U.S. and Italian Homes (Italian) illustrates a sequence of activities, including a card game and emails to peers who speak the target language, that builds competence and prepares students for real-life situations.
  • Daily Routines (Japanese) features the teacher’s use of visuals to enhance student learning, gradual release of responsibility, interpersonal communication, and students negotiating meaning with one another.
  • Hearing Authentic Voices (Spanish) shows how the teacher encourages students to extend their answers beyond single words and short phrases.

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.

  • Encourage activities that necessitate authentic communication among students in the class or between students and native speakers on the Internet. Mr. Joundeya facilitated an email dialog between his students and Sami, a “friend” from Lebanon. If your school has an approved online forum for students, consider creating a space for your Arabic class(es) and ask students to write posts connected to the theme they’re studying and to comment on each other’s posts. For example, in a unit on hobbies, students could upload pictures of themselves engaged in their hobbies and write about what they’re doing in the picture. Then the students could comment on each other’s posts with compliments and connections to their own lives. Projects among students in the class itself can foster a supportive language-learning community; projects that involve native speakers can encourage cross-cultural communication. Decide which is more in line with your own needs and abilities.
  • Extend the activity with a conversation during which you try to come to an agreement over a situation, an idea, or a difference of opinion. Offer a prompt, such as: “You want to go out to the movies with your friends this Friday, but your mom won’t let you. With a partner, come up with an authentic dialogue about this situation. Why doesn’t she want you to go? How can you convince her to let you go?”
  • Encourage students to negotiate with each other by giving them “information gap” activities. For example, each student is given a sheet of paper that lists a schedule and an activity that he or she wants to do. Students then stand up and walk around and talk to as many different students as they can in a given time to try to plan an outing together. Each student has to find another student who has a schedule that matches up with his or hers.


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.
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.
Communicate and interact with cultural competence in order to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world

School and Global Communities

Learners use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world.


Lesson Materials

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Card Matching Game—Conversation Exercise (PDF)
Instructions for playing the card game based on making future plans that is featured in the classroom video

Engaging a Native Speaker via Email—Writing Exercise (PDF)
Instructions for the email activity, providing a sample invitation from the native speaker and student responses


Curriculum References
Oregon Second Language Standards


Belal Joundeya’s Additional Resources
Future Plans Reading: Sami—Reading Comprehension (PDF)
An account of Sami’s future travel plans in America, with comprehension questions

Future Plans Reading: Michael—Reading Comprehension (PDF)
An account of Michael’s future travel plans to Jordan, with comprehension questions

Dance Party Invitation—Writing Exercise (PDF)
An additional example of an email exchange involving a native speaker and students

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