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Expanding Minds and Stretching Language Skills with Arabic Yoga

posted on: May 23, 2017

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The Kalimah Arabic After School Program

Press release: Qatar Foundation International 

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Qatar Foundation International Names Winners of #ArabicYoga Contest and Releases Arabic Yoga Lesson Plan

And the winner is…. Kalimah Programs for Arabic Language, Culture, and Arts, in Rockville, MD! Having won almost 50% of the over 1000 votes cast, Qatar Foundation International (QFI) declared Kalimah Programs the winner of its #ArabicYoga contest with the grand prize of $500 for their additional classroom resources.

Arabic Yoga began as a class that utilizes yoga poses to teach Arabic vocabulary in the first Arabic dual-immersion program in Texas, Arabic Immersion Magnet School (AIMS) – a QFI sponsored program. Combined with a larger health and wellness initiative, yoga was a unique and fitting addition to the immersion experience, creating a fun and effective way to teach the language.

Across the U.S., students and teachers uploaded photos and videos of themselves to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, describing their favorite word in Arabic with a yoga pose.

“We have been using yoga as part of our Arabic Immersion Weekend Program to engage kids in active, meaningful language learning. We came up with pose names in Arabic that help kids remember words like table, chair, tree, frog, lion, star, child, and others. For the contest, the kids were excited to come up with a new pose that involves group work. The word “عربي” (‘arabi) represents both our passion for learning Arabic and our fascination with how the different letters join (and not join) to form words and convey meaning. Just like the letters, we work together to make Arabic come to life and integrate it into our everyday lives. We plan to use the money as scholarships for families with limited income to help them access programs and opportunities for learning Arabic.” said Layali Eshqaidef, Founder and President of Kalimah Programs

QFI also released a lesson plan on Arabic Yoga in Arabic and in English on their Open Education Resource (OER) site, Al-Masdar. The lesson plan, written by Eden Bass of the Arabic Immersion Magnet School, Houston, TX, serves as a guide for a 45-minute Arabic yoga class and is meant to be used by an Arabic teacher with students ranging in age from 4 to 7 years old. These thematic yoga lessons can be adapted for any classroom and age group or language ability. It includes an introduction activity, yoga sequence, moment of relaxation, and a closing activity. The lesson plan is available for use and adaptation in English and Arabic here.

Maggie Mitchell Salem, QFI’s Executive Director said: “QFI is proud to support new and creative methods in Arabic pedagogy. Combining physical education with language learning is essential to keep students engaged in the classroom! Innovatively incorporating language in early education is a seamless way to integrate a critical 21st Century skill.”

Arabic is spoken by over 400 million people worldwide, is the fastest-growing second language in the United States, and has helped US students pursue careers in business, journalism, diplomacy, national security, and much more. QFI sees language as a fabric to connect cultures, and has partnered with 24 K-12 public and public charter schools across the country, allowing American students to gain a foothold in the Arabic language from a young age.