This post originally appeared on The Work of Childhood – Our journey through homeschooling and beyond… discovering the joys of learning on the way. Reposted with permission.
Teaching a new language can be a terribly daunting task, especially if you are not personally familiar with the language! Many homeschoolers desire teaching their children another language (if not several) but may have little to no formal training nor do they know where to start.
italki is your online language teacher! italki is comprised of Professional Teachers and Tutors that speak a MULTITUDE of different languages. My biggest complaint with many language software’s or websites is the limited languages available. That just isn’t the case with italki…there are SO many choices!!
First, you need to decide if you want to have a Professional Teaching session, or an Informal Tutoring session. I opted for the best of both worlds. I was able to find a Professional Arabic Teacher who was certified, but also offered informal tutoring sessions.
I have to admit that my husband had initial reservations about online tutoring and if it was safe. The sessions, however, are completely PRIVATE and are very safe. If you’d rather not do video chat, you can always opt to turn that feature off, but even so, the sessions are completely private – just your student and the teacher.
So, once I found the teacher I was interested in, I contacted her via italki message and gave her a little background on the Conductor (his age, that he’s homeschooled, how much Arabic he’s already practiced, etc). She sent a message back within 24 hours and we were ready to setup our sessions!
She offered a variety of lessons, which included Professional Lessons and Informal Tutoring sessions. I chose her Informal Tutoring: Arabic, which was 100 ITC per session. We scheduled six weekly sessions which we started at the beginning of July.
Before we knew it, it was time for his first session with his Arabic Teacher. Initially, we started with Google Hangouts as their communication platform, but we found it MUCH easier to use Skype instead. Like I mentioned above, you can opt to turn off the video chat and have it be a regular voice chat instead. Whatever you are most comfortable with.
For his first session, I actually sat with him (or was very nearby) as they got situated into the session, but it was great to be able to have him engaged with his teacher and learning, just as he would be in a private class! This just happens to be online, so it’s the BEST of both worlds. The convenience of having a TRAINED teacher teaching him the language, but being in the comfort of home – as a homeschool family that’s already out of the house more than we’re home – that’s a HUGE HUGE bonus!
During the first session, they reviewed his knowledge of basic Arabic letters, and she introduced the fat’ha (which changes the sound of the letters) and they went through the letters again. Each week, she introduced a new bit of grammar – the dam-ma, the kasra, etc.
His teacher used an interactive online whiteboard, so we were able to ‘log on’ to a private class in the program (she would share a private link via Skype for us to log in to). With this online whiteboard, he was able to see exactly where she wanted him to read (you can see the arrow/cursor in the above photo…that was when she was pointing to the specific letter she wanted him to say).
Taking Letters and Making Words
Once they reviewed the letters, he was ready to begin turning them into words! This is fairly tricky in Arabic because many of the letters change how they look depending on where they fall in the word. His teacher would point to the word she’d like him to read and he’d begin to sound out each one. She continually encouraged him whenever he struggled with remembering a letter or if he forgot about the fat’ha, etc. I’m AMAZED at how much he learned in just a few lessons! The ONLY Arabic experience he’s had previously was learning the actual letters (at private school each week). His progress is phenomenal. The best part is – all the learning took place right here at home – in his own private ‘classroom’.
The image above shows just a handful of the many words that he was able to read by the end of his 6-weeks with italki. I look forward to scheduling more sessions online, with his same teacher every summer. If he wasn’t attending a private school on the weekends, italki would be my go-to place for WEEKLY online tutoring. It’s the perfect ‘summer refresher’ for us personally, but it could be just what you need for your school year! There are no long-term commitments – while it’s recommended that you have 2-3 sessions a week when possible – you can also schedule sessions once a week if it fits into your schedule better. italki offers amazing flexibility – which is perfect for the average homeschool family!
There are many great benefits: