Instructor experiences student aspect of UNA

Zeynep Harkness is speaking with Arabic instructor Abdullah Alwafi about the pronunciation of a word. Harkness, who teaches English as a Second Language, is a former instructor of Alwafi’s.

Students attend college to learn and pursue the career of their dreams. Occasionally, the teacher becomes the student.

English as a Second Language Instructor Zeynep Harkness is one such instructor taking courses this semester.

“I am taking (Arabic 101) mainly because I am inherently interested in languages and the process of learning them,” she said.

Arabic Instructor Abdullah Alwafi, who is pursuing his master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, is the instructor for the Arabic 101 class. He is also one of Harkness’ former students.

Alwafi said though having a former instructor as a student is odd, he still sees Harkness as one of his students.

“She used to teach me English,” he said. “Now I teach her Arabic. There is no difference when it comes to the class because in the class all of them are my students.”

Harkness said she feels learning a new language will help not only her teaching, but will also help her relate to the challenges her own students face.

“At UNA, we have a very encouraging environment to take classes to keep academic curiosity alive and great support for professional development,” she said.

UNA offers a Tuition Remission program that has enabled her to take this class, she said.

Full-time faculty and staff, retirees, current trustees, current adjunct faculty and part-time or temporary staff employees are eligible for full remission of course hour fees, according to the UNA website.

Harkness said having a colleague as a teacher is not strange to her because she sees it as an opportunity to learn about different teaching methods.

“This process gives me a lot of ideas that I can implement in my own classes as I get an opportunity to experience the student side of UNA,” she said.

Senior Heather Fields said she would not be sure how to treat a professor taking a class with her.

“I feel like I would have to still treat them as the teacher even though they were a student,” she said.

Alwafi said there is no difference in treatment of Harkness, but her background in education sets her apart.

“Since she is a teacher, she is not shy,” Alwafi said. “She speaks immediately and asks questions.”

ESL teachers can benefit from taking these classes, he said.

“They might have students who speak Arabic,” he said. “It’s better for them to take these classes so they can help these students. If they have even a little bit of knowledge, this will help them.”

Sophomore Abdullah Alharbi said he thinks having an instructor in a class as a student is a good thing.

“I think it would make me more confident,” he said. “It’s good to have them study as you study.”