Tips for Finding an Arabic Language Mentor During a Pandemic
Since the pandemic, many services at the university have been suspended or completely canceled. Formal and informal mechanisms for language learning have also fallen victim to COVID. I myself had planned to work with the Arabic Language Table that hosts a group of likeminded individuals interested in learning the language. Even meeting informally at a coffee shop or working with a nearby organization using the language to participate in the local community has virtually disappeared. What follows includes a list of language learning suggestions for those interested in developing a virtual mentor/mentee relationship:
Language Exchange Websites: LiveMocha.com, Busuu.com, and MyLanguageExchange.com all approach language learning like dating websites where participants interact and alternate in their native language. The idea is that compensation is provided by sharing in a language exchange experience (Wyner, 160-161).
Private Tutors: There are many great tutoring websites that connect interested students with native speakers of the language. One example includes italki.com. When searching the internet it is easy to find a slew of potential tutors. The downside is that you have to invest money in obtaining a tutor and often do so at the risk of not finding a suitable tutor/mentor (this is something I am currently exploring) (Wyner, 161).
Facebook Groups: Using one quick post, groups such as the Critical Language Scholarship Applicants and the Fulbright Arabic page may be able to quickly provide feedback on where to find virtual mentorships. In the past, I know they advertised several workshops and free programs to help with language learning.
Teachers and Friends: The beauty of virtual learning is that it is possible for two people to meet in an online chat room, even when miles away. Connecting with friends and teachers who speak the language may provide direct mentorship opportunities, but even if these individuals are unavailable, connecting with them may point learners in the right direction toward finding a mentor.
Classmates Who are also Working on the Same Language: In the past, I have shared mentors with other students. I have even had speaking sessions where the other mentee and I met together to practice with our mentor. I found that it worked well and allowed me to settle into the language more easily knowing that someone else was there learning with me. While a shared mentor does not have to happen at the same time, classmates may be able to share their contacts of past or present mentors.
Wyner, Gabriel. Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It. New York: Harmony Books, 2014.