Language partner dedicated to students’ learning

Graduate student Abdullah Alwafi teaches his Elementary Arabic class. “He is very calm, encouraging, patient and understanding as he works with students to help them master the material,” said Director of the Critical Languages Program Craig Christy.

Abdullah Alwafi is a graduate student studying for his master’s in English as a Second Language who graduates this semester. He is also the Arabic critical language partner.

Alwafi said he became a critical language partner because he likes to teach.

“I’m interested in working with other languages and teaching languages,” he said. “It’s also important to learn another language. I like to help students with this.”

Alwafi said the previous Arabic language partner, Ali Alnasar, recommended him for the job.

Students who receive a recommendation from a previous language partner go through the same hiring process as the others, said Director of the Critical Languages Program Craig Christy.

“(They are all) asked the same questions and given a set of guidelines for Critical Language Partners along with the Critical Language syllabus,” he said. “Clearly recommendations are valued, but to be a successful candidate requires that the native speaker serving as a language partner match up with the (criteria).”

Alwafi said he has two different teaching styles.

“Normally, when I teach, I just go over vocabulary and grammar,” he said. “I don’t go as deep in the explanations. I am just a critical language partner. If the student has any questions, then I answer it. I don’t assign any homework.”

He said he structures his class with senior Kali Daniel as a regular classroom setting.

“She asked me to teach her,” he said. “So, I worked more in-depth with her and gave her assignments, but without grades. Now, when I ask her to open a book and read, she’ll read in Arabic. If I give her a word, she can write it.”

Christy said Alwafi works well with his students.

“He is very calm, encouraging, patient and understanding as he works with students to help them master the material,” he said.

He is an interesting teacher, and this makes it easier to learn in class, said senior Monica Hannon.

“He is like Mario from Super (Mario) Kart,” she said. “(He is) energetic and always telling us interesting things. He goes over stuff until we really know it.”

Since Alwafi is a college student he stays updated with new information, she said.

Alwafi said when he is not working or studying he reads books about technology.

“Technology is important to use in the classroom,” he said. “I take what I learn in the books and apply it to my teaching.”

He said he has used the app Snapchat to help his students practice speaking Arabic.

“One of my students spoke some Arabic, and this was how she practiced speaking,” he said.

Alwafi said he is dedicated to teaching and will do whatever it takes to help his students.

“Last semester I went to Colbert County to help with an Arabic student they had,” he said. “I didn’t have a car, so I would have to rent a car to get there or sometimes borrow a car.”

Alwafi said he has lived in Florence for six years and has loved his time here.

“I love being in a small city, not a crowded one,” he said. “I came to UNA because my friend was here. He told me it was good here, not that expensive and quiet. My friend who recommended I come here transferred. He asked if I wanted to transfer with him, but I told him I wanted to stay because I like it here.”

Editor’s Note: Kali Daniel is the editor-in-chief of The Flor-Ala and did not contribute to this report.