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

Arabic: People Who Help Us

Arabic Grade 1: Khamael Alaloom introduces her class to people who help in the community and teaches students a new letter of the alphabet. She projects images of community helpers and reviews their names and what they do.



Khamael Alaloom



Grades: 1


William Ford Elementary School, Dearborn, Michigan

Lesson Date

April 7

Class Size



45 minutes, once a week

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Video Summary

In this lesson, Khamael Alaloom introduces her first-grade class to people who help in the community and teaches students a new letter of the alphabet: miim. At the start of class, she reviews with students the content, language, and vocabulary objectives for the day. Then she projects images of community helpers on the board and reviews their names and what they do. Students pair up and talk about what they understood from the teacher’s presentation. Next, Mrs. Alaloom hands out picture cards, and students take turns stating who is in the picture and how the person helps us—first within a small group and then in front of the class. After Mrs. Alaloom calls on a student to read aloud and then point out different parts of a sentence, students complete a writing activity in their notebooks, copying the sentences she provides. Finally, students review the letter miim and identify it at the beginning and in the middle of different vocabulary words.


Standards Addressed

Communication: Interpersonal, Presentational

Communities: School and Community


affective filter
The affective filter hypothesis (Dulay, Krashen, and Burt, 1982) describes the need for second-language learning to occur in an environment of low anxiety, to encourage the processing and learning of new information.

Dulay, Heidi, Stephen D. Krashen, and Mariana Burt. Language Two.Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1982.

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.

heritage speaker
A heritage speaker is a student who is exposed to a language other than English at home. Heritage speakers can be categorized based on the prominence and development of the heritage language in the student’s daily life. Some students have full oral fluency and literacy in the home language; others may have full oral fluency but their written literacy was not developed because they were schooled in English. Another group of students — typically third- or fourth-generation — can speak to a limited degree but cannot express themselves on a wide range of topics. Students from any of these categories may also have gaps in knowledge about their cultural heritage. Teachers who have heritage speakers of the target language in their class should assess which proficiencies need to be maintained and which need to be developed further. See also native speaker.

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.

native speaker
A native speaker considers the target language to be his or her first language. Teachers seek opportunities for students to communicate in person or through technology with native speakers. Students in foreign language classes who are first- or second-generation immigrants and who use the language extensively outside the classroom are also considered native speakers. These students typically maintain the cultural norms of their heritage in certain situations. See also heritage speaker.

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 best practices found in this video that would also be applicable to students of older age groups?
  • What new classroom routines can I incorporate into my teaching to aid in transitions between activities?
  • How does small-group work help foster a supportive learning environment in my classroom?

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.

  • Chicken Pox (French) illustrates a teacher’s approach to introducing new vocabulary and assessing student comprehension. The lesson also includes a review of body parts, which connects to a health/science curriculum.
  • Holidays and Seasons (German) illustrates how a teacher structures a lesson for her young students.
  • Mapping Planet Earth (French) demonstrates how literacy and a social studies content lesson are incorporated to build second-language skills.

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.

  • Collaborate with other teachers at your school to draw connections across curricula. When you reinforce content from the students’ core classes in a language class, it not only strengthens the students’ knowledge of the content itself, but also shows them that core content can be learned in any language. Mrs. Alaloom connected to a social studies lesson; however, you can connect your lesson to any subject appropriate for your students, from math and science to art, literature, and history. If your students are learning about the environment in science class, try introducing similar content in your world language classroom.
  • Make a unit about professions more personal for students by connecting to their own aspirations. Create a lesson that explores the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Have your students do mini-presentations about what they want to be when they grow up. This is also an excellent opportunity to connect your classroom with the community. Invite one or two native speakers of the target language you teach to come talk to the class about their job.


Lesson Materials

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“The People Who Help Us”—Reading Activity (PDF)
The sentences that Mrs. Alaloom used during the class as part of a student reading activity

Letter Connection and Recognition Worksheet (PDF)
Letter connection and letter recognition exercises

Curriculum References
Michigan World Languages Standards and Benchmarks

Khamael Alaloom’s Additional Resources

Print Resources:
“Places in Our Community”—Reading Activity (PDF)
The sentences that Mrs. Alaloom used for a student reading activity during a previous class

Web Resources:
Jarir Bookstore
An online retailer with books and tools in English and Arabic for teaching and learning the Arabic language

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