Khaleej Times: For the love of Arabic language

Abdul Qadir Sayed of Al Itqan Language Training Center shares his passion for teaching Arabic language

 

The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan recently declared 2016 to be the year of reading. This nationwide initiative has been done in order to cement the country’s position as a global capital for knowledge and culture.

For Abdul Qadir Sayed, the Chairman of Al Itqan Language Training Center, this was exciting news as he has dedicated his life to teaching the Arabic language – from reading, speaking or writing to the multi-cultural society of the city.

Sayed says that he came into the field of teaching by accident. When he used to work in a school as an administrator, the chairman of that school had asked him to teach Arabic to 20 orphaned children from Somalia, who he had taken under his wing.

“The chairman asked me to try to teach them because I could speak Arabic, English and Urdu, and the other teachers were not able to handle them due to language barriers,” says Sayed. “The age of children was between eight to fourteen and I took this up as a challenge.”

Initially Sayed admits that he was having his doubts because teaching was a whole new experience for him. But eventually he was able to teach them Arabic along with other subjects.

He says: “It was the best experience of my life because we spent three years together, where I also learnt a lot – how to deal with children, how to teach, etc.

After three years, the children were able to speak. They write, read fluently and understand Arabic. Moreover they were even able to give speeches and write stories.”

Sayed credits this success to the curriculum he developed and the two books he wrote at the time. One was a book of letters and words, and another was a vocabulary book which he highlights that the books had made it easier for the children to grasp the language by using words that are used in daily dialogue.

After that Sayed moved on to training labourers at their camps, where he concentrated on teaching them how to read and write. To date, he has taught more than 1,000 students of various nationalities.

He adds: “I have also taught staff of companies, hotels as well as colleges. Wherever I find students who are eager to learn Arabic, I go there. I love teaching because I get to see happiness on people’s faces, as they feel they have accomplished something important, which in return gives me a sense of pride.”

Looking at his 10 years of teaching experience, Sayed’s younger brother and their friend came up with the idea of starting their own language centre. Therefore together they started Al Itqan Language Training Center that offers courses where you can read and write Arabic in 10 hours, and a course where you can speak Arabic in just 24 hours.

“If you spend one day of your life learning Arabic, it can completely transform you,” he adds.

The 10-hour course costs Dh450, speaking course for Dh1,200, and both combined costs Dh1,500 for 34 hours. The classes take place in two batches, from 6pm to 8pm and 8pm to 10pm.

“There are two types of Arabic – one is the official language from the Holy Quran and the other one is the dialect of the country you are living in,” explains Sayed. “I merged the official version with the Emirati dialect to make it easier for students here to be able to converse confidently. We want to be the bridge for people from all over the world to the GCC countries.”

Sayed says that there are plans to open branches in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah. “My dream is to make Arabic language a standard such as English language tests such as IELTS and TOEFL,” he says.

 

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