Why students speaking Arabic don’t scare me

Before I landed in Saudi Arabia, I worried about teaching a bunch of students who don’t speak a language I understand. Would they say things about me? Would they ignore me as the teacher altogether and just talk to their friends? How would this work if I couldn’t understand what they’re saying?

In Korea, this was one of the scariest parts about starting work. As the time went on, though, I began to learn more Korean and get to know my students better. Then it wasn’t so much of a problem because I could pretty much understand what they were saying.

Heading to Saudi, I worried about starting all over again.

But I wasn’t starting over. That’s the part I missed. After teaching in Korea for over a year plus the teaching time during training in Thailand, I learned not only some of those languages, which helped me understand my students, but also just what students are trying to say in class regardless of the language they’re speaking.

So now, after just a few classes of teaching here, the fear of students speaking in Arabic, a language I don’t speak at all, has all but vanished. I don’t worry about it so much now because now I realize that even if I don’t understand the language, I still have learned how to understand the students.

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