Student Spotlight – Saba Alamoudi
Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What kind of work have you done? Do you have any hobbies?
My name is Saba Alamoudi. I am from Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The holy city for Muslims and one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s a crossroads and melting pot of many world cultures. People come to this city from many places around the world every year.
I was born in Makkah and lived in this city for my whole life, and I got my bachelor’s degree in Arabic literature from Umm Alqura University in the same city. After I graduated, I tried to find a job there related to my major, but I did not find anything. I decided to apply for a scholarship through the Saudi government to come to the U.S. I came to the U.S in 2012 and I started learning English. I was planning to teach Arabic as a second language and the LTS program was the perfect program for me to achieve this goal. Therefore, I decided to apply. I have tutored Arabic learners and lead the Arabic circle in the Mills International Center when I was an English learner in the AEI. I also was involved in many activities to introduce Arabic culture to American and international students through the Saudi and Muslim Students’ Association of the UO. After I enrolled to the LTS program, I got a job as a language instructor in Umm Alqura university in my hometown, which I will start after I graduate from the LTS program.
Could you tell us about any internships or GE positions you had at the UO?
I did an internship to work with Arabic instructors at the UO in some Arabic language classes that focused on teaching modern standard Arabic and the Egyptian dialect. It was a great experience for me. I learned from the teacher a lot of things related to teaching Arabic in an EFL context with students speak the same native language. I got the chance to teach in these classes and I learned a lot from the experience such as managing class time. One big challenge was to teach Arabic by speaking English in the classroom. For example, explaining many grammar rules or explaining vocabulary meaning using the English language. Arabic language classes in the UO helped me to realize the challenges that students face when they communicate and interact with native speakers. Arabic diglossia was the main challenge. The students were learning in most of their classes the Modern Standard Arabic which is used in very formal context such as academic context while native speakers use their own dialect to communicate with each other. The standard and the spoken languages are very different and it was hard for the students to understand native speakers when they speak. After spending some time helping students to realize the differences between the standard and the dialect, and after attending a Arabic class that focus on teaching the Egyptian dialect, I realized that the main difference is the pronunciation. That led to the focus on teaching pronunciation to clarify the problem of comprehensibility and intangibility in the communication between Arabic learner and native Arabic speakers.
Could you tell us a little bit about the ideas that you have for your Master’s project?
My Master’s project focuses on integrating teaching Pronunciation In Arabic curricula as a second language through some activities. I focus on both segmental and suprasegmental features for modern standard Arabic and the western Saudi dialect. My goal is to help students learn how to use what they’ve been learning in the modern standard Arabic language classes to interact and communicate with native speakers. Learning more about the differences in the the sound systems for both varieties of Arabic can help them avoid a lot of intelligibility and comprehensibility problems.
What is the most valuable thing that you’ve learned during your time at the UO?
Professors at the UO, especially the LTS program, have different teaching styles than most professors in my country. One main valuable thing that I learned is how a great teacher should be. Other valuable things that I learned and appreciated during my time in the program are the teacher and peer feedback in the classroom, the classroom discussions, the microteaching activities and practice that I have had during my learning journey. It helped me to apply and experience a lot of things that I learned theoretically in the program, and it helped to shape my teaching perspective and style. Finally, I learned that language is more than vocabulary and grammar rules. Also, culture is always associated with learning languages; therefore, including pragmatic, sociolinguistic and suprasegmental aspects is very important to teaching a language effectively.