Uprising in Tahrir Square - An Interactive Toolkit for Advanced Arabic Classrooms - Abdelkader Berrahmoun
Abdelkader Berrahmoun [+]
Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California
Uprising in Tahrir Square is designed as an engaging contemporary resource for advanced Arabic learners. It immerses language students in the monumental events that unfolded in Cairo, Egypt during the mass youth uprisings of January 2011. Before toppling President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule in February 2011, the Egyptian youth movement had captivated the world and transmitted its message of anger, hope, and change to a global audience. The world watched as more than a million protestors gathered to press for reform, democracy and regime change. Uprising in Tahrir Square places students of Arabic at the epicenter of these real-life events through a simulated journal project and writing exchange. Students build and strengthen essential skills in reading, writing and comprehension by using the Arabic language in a vital, real-life context. They become authors in their own right as they invent personas and speak through the voices of diverse characters who all reside in the vicinity of Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Writing in first-person narrative, students’ journal entries bear witness to the early days of the nascent uprising, through its surprisingly rapid conclusion with Mubarak’s resignation, and the uncertainty of what Egypt’s future may bring. Not only do the invented characters grapple with the uprising’s tragedies and triumphs through their own perspectives, but they also interact with a cast of invented neighbors, using contemporary technology tools such as Wikispaces and blogs. The book’s units trace the actual sequence of the Cairo uprising and intersperse fictional scenarios - providing both historical background and interpretive content. The structure of Uprising in Tahrir Square supports learning on multiple levels. Students deepen their understanding of the cultural, political and social contexts for Egypt and other Arab youth’s historic uprisings, while improving essential Arabic skills. The book’s scaffolded activities and array of resources are carefully designed to promote listening and reading comprehension, vocabulary development, critical thinking and interpretation, research, peer collaboration, creative writing, and oral language fluency. Uprising in Tahrir Square offers an alternative to traditional Arabic learning materials. It is conceived as a supplementary resource in a general Arabic language class. Alternately, it can be used as the central text for a Special Interest Class.