Living Arabic

The outstanding Arabic teaching methods at the German International School Dubai is prime example for the local school authorities.


For many years now, the DISD Arabic Department has had an excellent reputation. For the fifth year in a row the Arabic teaching in the Primary School has been rated “outstanding” by the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). The Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) recommends the DISD as one of the best schools in Dubai for Arabic lessons for non-native speakers.

The team of the DISD Arabic Department under the leadership of Mrs Mahbouba Hassan is not only an integral part but as a matter of fact the name giver of the forum “Living Arabic” of the “What Works” series organized by the KHDA. It is a unique initiative for the private education sector, which brings together teachers and principals of all private schools in Dubai. At the first “What Works” event the DISD teacher Mr Ahmed Abdelwahab impressed the KHDA with his presentation “Living Arabic” so much that they took over the title for all their Arabic Workshops.

“I am very proud of the Arabic Department of the German school”, Dr. Kaltham Kenaid, KHDA Director of Research, confirmed at the INNOVATION ARABIA 11 congress on March 13th. Under the patronage of H H Sheik Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), the congress addresses contemporary issues and explores the potential of the Arab Nations to accelerate the pace of socio-economic growth. Under the title “Innovate, Disrupt and Transform” different themes of the fields Smart Learning, Health & Environment as well as Islamic Banking and Finance were presented and discussed.

For the field of Smart Learning the panel discussion „Success & Excellence Accelerators in Teaching Arabic at Private Schools in Dubai” took place, to which the DISD Arabic teacher Ahmed Abdelwahab was invited to present his teaching methods. Besides Mr Abdelwahab the panel consisted of Dr. Kaltham Kenaid (KHDA Director of Research), Mrs Amina Alkawari (KHDA Senior Bilingual Inspector) and Mr Amer Al Kabisi (Deputy Director-General for Academic Affairs – Sheikh Rashid Bin Saied Islamic Institute).

According to Dr. Kaitham Kenaid, the 2000 Arabic teachers in Dubai need a lot of support to implement the innovative teaching methods to excite the students for the Arabic language. The Arabic language is in danger, as even the native students read and speak more and more English than Arabic. For Dr. Kaltham, the teachers have the task as researchers to find the weak points and to evaluate the developments. With the “What Works” initiative they want to empower the teachers to become pioneers of the Arabic language.

Learning to write and speak Arabic is a mandatory subject in all international schools in Dubai. For many students it is difficult to develop an interest for the language mainly due to the foreign characters.

The Arabic department at DISD recognized this problem and distanced their methods from the traditional lessons with a textbook. The teachers’ goal is to awaken the student’s interest through exciting topics like sports, nature and culture of the region. With role play in Arabic dresses, singing, presenting of posters as well as excursions where they mainly speak Arabic, they developed dynamic lessons in which the students engage enthusiastically.

The DISD Arabic department has developed their teaching methods further and turned a class room into an Arabic Café. For one month the Arabic lessons for the Secondary School students will take place in this café. The students will not only learn vocabulary but as well have to use the language in different, real-life situations as a guest or waiter. Next, the room will be turned into a souk.

The encounter with the culture, the values and the language of the host country has a big importance at DISD. Arabic festivities are celebrated and workshops and presentations are held to give the students an understanding of the Arabic culture. The students are the key players themselves and each year, proudly present what they have learned to their parents.