Learning to write fluidly in Arabic takes practice. That’s something Barbara Romaine, an Arabic instructor in the Department of Global Interdisciplinary Studies, emphasizes to students when they’re struggling to master the challenging Arabic writing system.
When she couldn’t find the type of educational materials she needed to help them get that practice, Romaine created her own. “After using this makeshift approach for a few years, it occurred to me that perhaps my idea amounted to a potential textbook in and of itself,” she says. What began as a workaround is now a published workbook in its second printing with Georgetown University Press.
Write Arabic Now! A Handwriting Workbook for Letters and Words got off the ground with the help of an instructional mini-grant from the Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning, which provides funding to full-time Villanova faculty members to develop new teaching and learning approaches.
Using handwriting samples from fellow Arabic instructor Lana Iskandarani, the workbook allows learners to practice letter formation on tracing paper that is bound into the book. It also comes with audio of the practice words so students simultaneously learn how to pronounce the words they’re writing.
“The audio component is vital, since the way a word is represented on the page and the way it is spoken are inextricably linked,” Romaine says. “It is wonderful to have the privilege of witnessing each new generation of students encountering Arabic for themselves, and having their own experiences unlocking the language’s mysteries.”
The way a word is represented on the page and the way it is spoken are inextricably linked.”