x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Ask Ali: On classroom sensitivities and ways to help tsunami victims

Ali Alsaloom explains how to best share ideas with pupils and ways to help victims of Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

Dear Ali: What must a teacher here remember when giving examples to students in a classroom? ST, Abu Dhabi

Dear ST: Teachers hold a high position in the Arab community. The respect we have for them is just as we have for our parents. To cope with the high demand for English language education we have many teachers come here from other parts of the world. Some complaints I get from some parents reveal inappropriate comments from foreign teachers that don't line up with our customs and expectations.

Of course, they are not to blame if they don't know the specifics of our culture and the values we instill in our children.

For example, when it comes to Valentine's Day or Christmas, teachers should refrain from promoting these holidays because Valentine's Day and Father Christmas do not relate to our Islamic faith or our culture. Something as simple as this could confuse the children.

I also once recall a teacher telling her students that she did not believe in God, and this caused a lot of trouble as many students went home and complained to their parents. It seems that some people do not recognise how those practices affect our students' beliefs and culture and this has to be emphasised.

I would like to remind all teachers to read more about the basics of Islam and cultural values in the Arab world. While teachers may not have bad intentions when discussing certain topics with their students, it is best that they first research the topic's cultural perspective before going ahead. We always see our teachers as role models, so if they don't consider and respect the values and traditions of the UAE before bringing up controversial topics to a classroom full of kids, the implications and consequences will not be favourable. That is not to say that a teacher would be fired, rather that their relationship with their students will be undermined, especially when parents get involved.

Adec, the Abu Dhabi Educational Council, has worked hard to enhance the level of education here in Abu Dhabi, and more new native English-speaking teachers are coming to our country. I support Adec's English-language initiative and I believe that it's our duty as a community to continue to help Adec reach its objectives. We hope that our newly hired teachers will become role models for our Emirati children and that they share some of our values and faith-essential messages.


Dear Ali: The catastrophic tsunami and earthquakes in Japan have affected me emotionally and I want to help in any way I can. What can I do from the UAE to contribute to helping our brothers and sisters in Japan? ZK, Fujairah

Dear ZK: Your concern is touching and I applaud your willingness to try to reach out in helping the victims. First I suggest you contact the Japanese Embassy for detailed information on the best possible way to help.

Also, there is an active Japanese cultural centre based here in our country and led by a nice woman named Dr Kishida, who will be happy to receive your donation. The centre's members deal with the UAE Red Crescent Society and send aid in a number of ways to the affected victims. For more information on how to help, check their website at http://jp.ae. May God bless our friends in Japan.


Language lesson

Arabic: Zameel

English: Colleague

The word "zameel" in Arabic refers to a work colleague or person who studies with you in the same institution. When you want to say, "This person is my colleague" in Arabic, you say "Hadha zameeli" if your colleague is male, or "Hadhi zameelti" if your colleague is female.