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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Songs From Palestine: A Meaningful Addition to Arabic Language Teaching

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When it comes to text type, I personally like using films, literature, and music to introduce my students to difficult topics.

I have to admit, though, that selecting texts that deal with the Palestinian cause isn’t always an easy task, because multiple factors need to be carefully considered: students’ interests and background, their language proficiency, the purpose behind sharing specific texts, as well as our own biases as teachers with sociopolitical identities. Terry Osborn has a book called Teaching Languages for Social Justice that offers useful principles for designing activities that can help educators bring awareness about issues of power, social equity and justice, including the politics of vocabulary and grammar. While such an approach isn’t always comfortable, it contributes to affirming the identities and backgrounds of all students, it promotes inclusivity and belonging, and it gives voice to those who have traditionally been absent in the language curriculum.

When it comes to text type, I personally like using films, literature, and music to introduce my students to difficult topics. I find these to be a gentle entry point that allow us to see each other as people that share the same human qualities, and students enjoy them. Recently, the platform MUBI has curated a selection of contemporary Palestinian films that includes many award-winning movies. Check it out for a truly exceptional collection.

In the literary scene, the ArabLit Quarterly has put together a list of books for young readers, and Dar Saqi is offering some 20 free e-books, among which you’ll find poetry books and novels.

As for songs, I asked my friends and colleagues on social media to suggest what works in their classes, and following are some suggestions. Remember that songs can generate a lot of fun in the classroom, even when the underlying topic is tragic. So please don’t use songs to talk about the dark side of politics only, but use them to sing, to enjoy the videoclips and the humor displayed, to dance, to discuss the underlying sociopolitical issues, and to appreciate music in and by itself.

Songs to Enliven the Classroom

I’ll start with songs that lend themselves to all of the above:



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