Tik Tik Tik; Learning to Teach Arabic from Moffet Elementary Students

The most enjoyable times at the Moffet After-School Arab Arts Program are when we have breakthroughs. There are many types of breakthroughs; for instance, a students might turnaround their behavior in our program, and in school, following a serious conversation. Most recently, however, we have made leaps and bounds in the music class by employing a totally new approach to teaching elementary school children Arabic songs. To reveal our secret: we are now using simpler songs, with extremely catchy choruses and having advanced individual students focus their efforts on the more complicated verses. If sounds dull to you, understand that this approach meant that our children, who overwhelmingly do not speak Arabic, learned to sing this song in only a couple weeks: Tik Tik Tik. Don’t be distracted by the cuteness–okay, maybe be distracted a little–these kids’ Arabic-diction, pitch, and rhythm is very impressive.

To understand the superiority of our new approach, you have to know a little about our previous Arabic-song teaching experience at Moffet. Prior to “Tik Tik Tik,” the kids learned Yalli Zara’tu and Ya Naseem Ar-Reeh, but that process felt very difficult, and the children did not enjoy the arduous process of learning a whole Arabic song that did not wedge itself into their brain. On the other hand, our students literally sing Tik Tik Tik when they are walking through the hallways, and students seem very reluctant to learn the choir class. If the kids engage with the material to the point that they independently work on it, you know that our teachers are doing something right. And the fact that we had to adapt our material to make this happen only makes the success that more enjoyable.

If you are interested, come see the Moffet kids sing this Wednesday, Feb. 25th at City Hall! The Moffet Singers will sing Tik Tik Tik at Al-Bustan’s opening reception, which goes from 5-7pm on the fifth floor of City Hall. While the recordings are wonderful, it is actually much more enjoyable to see the kids perform the songs live. So, come on down this Wednesday to see how amazing our singers are in person.

Also, if any of you readers have ideas for catchy, relatively simple Arabic songs that are culturally rich, please post them in the comments section of this post! Al-Bustan is not just a garden, but a community as well; we deeply appreciate contributions such as song suggestions. Peace!

Max Dugan
Al-Bustan Program Coordinator

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