Language mentors are a valuable part of the learning process regardless of your Arabic level. A mentor can provide guidance in terms of pronunciation, grammar, speaking skills, and useful feedback on all areas of learning.
Finding an Arabic Language Mentor in Madison
- Reach out to Arabic Instructors at UW Madison- Contact the Department of African Studies about meeting a faculty member or TA during their office hours. You may be able to schedule regular meetings or ask for advice about finding a mentor that can meet regularly and provide guidance.
- Tap into the network of Arabic speakers– Attending weekly Arabic conversation tables is a good place to meet and converse with other Arabic speakers. Other Arabic learners may help you connect with a mentor as well.
- Baytunna– is a student housing community for students who share interests in Arabic language and culture. You can contact their director about events.
Finding a Mentor Beyond Madison
- You may already know or want to reach out to an instructor from another institution.
- NaTakallam– Is not free, but Arabic learners are paired with a Syrian refugee and can work on MSA or a dialect.
- Banaat Connect– This program connects female Arabic learners with female refugees from Palestine at the Jerash Refugee Camp in Amman, Jordan. The refugees are in the process of learning English. You spend one hour talking in English and one hour talking in Arabic each week. They also provide a conversation guide and materials to guide each conversation (i.e. question prompts and vocabulary). It costs about $60 for a full semester, but they note that they are open to accomodating/discussing if financial costs are a problem.
- italki– Also requires payment, but allows students to connect with Arabic instructors.
Tips for Working with a Mentor
- Try to keep a regular schedule.
- Choose a mentor that you feel comfortable with.
- Prioritize your learning. Spend the time with your mentor on things that are most important for you to known. For instance, it may be helpful to pick which American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency goals you want to focus on.
- Set Expectations. Making a clear plan at the beginning of each meeting will help you and your mentor stay on track. It’s also helpful to set expectations at the beginning of your mentor-mentee relationship.
- Record. You may want to consider tape recording your conversations or lessons with your mentor so you have them as a resources to refer back to at a later date.
Finding a mentor and developing a strong, productive relationship takes time. So be patient, communicate your needs clearly and often, and reach out for assistance at any (and all) steps of the way!