K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Date created
March 2011
North Carolina
Flash Video
This video copyright ©2011. All Rights Reserved

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In the classroom

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This video is the the second story in a series from UNC-TV about critical languages in North Carolina called “Learning with the World: Global Languages in North Carolina.” The presentation’s focus is on Arabic language programs in North Carolina schools, including the work LEARN NC has completed with the Department of Public Instruction to produce a digital textbook for Arabic language instruction.

The segment features Raffik Missak, who is teaching at Winding Springs Elementary (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools), and Lt. Col. Ken Ratashak, who will share an innovative Arabic program for ROTC students at North Carolina State University.

This series of videos highlights the work done in North Carolina around language instruction, including LEARN NC’s digital textbooks to teach critical languages. Other videos in the series include:


Announcer (00:01)
Podcasts on unctv.org are made possible through the financial contributions of viewers like you, who invite you to join them in supporting UNC-TV.
Shannon Vickery (00:12)
In recent weeks, we have all been watching the news from the Middle East, but tonight we meet an Egyptian, who is bringing the culture to the North Carolina classroom as part of a special series, Learning with the World, produced by Donna Campbell and narrated by Bobby Dobbs.
Bobby Dobbs (00:29)
Rafik Missak is known throughout Charlotte-Meckenburg School System as “the Egyptian giant.”
Myrna Meehan (00:36)
Rafik came to us last year. This would be his second year with us. And, he came from Egypt originally, but he graduated from Belmont Abbey College. And, we were extremely excited to have him here.
Rafik Missak (00:53)
I was born and raised in Alexandria Egypt, the second biggest city in Egypt after Cairo, the capital. I moved here in 2004. I came straight from home, from Alexandria, Egypt to North Carolina to Belmont, North Carolina where my school is. I got a basketball scholarship.
Bobby Dobbs (01:12)
After graduating from Belmont Abbey, Rafik married a woman he met during school and decided to make North Carolina his home.
Rafik Missak (01:20)
I heard about a teaching job in Winding Springs Elementary as an Arabic teacher. They’re actually doing a brand new program.
Bobby Dobbs (01:32)
Winding Springs Elementary is part of a magnet program in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, The Center for Leadership and Global Studies.
Myrna Meehan (01:40)
I thought a lot about what was missing in my own education when I was growing up, a sense of the United States and its place in the world. It was a very isolationism-type of view of instruction in the fact that we studied the United States and pretty much that was it.
Rafik Missak (02:00)
You’ve got a letter “c” here…
Myrna Meehan (02:02)
I was so drawn to this theme because it teaches students that we are a country in the world and that much of our success depends on how well we work with other countries. And, students really need to understand that.
Sarah Obeid (02:20)
The younger kids, they just learn how to write the basic letters. They’re just starting with the alphabet and they just learn how to trace them over and over. They also learn a little bit of the vocabulary. They learn a few words related to that letter. And, the older grades, like third, fourth, and fifth actually learn how to write the letters in the beginning, middle, and end of the word.
Rafik Missak (02:37)
You know, teaching Arabic from elementary is going to actually help the kids, you know, in middle and high school to keep learning because Arabic is very new to everybody. You know, it’s not Spanish. It’s not French. Everything is new. The alphabet is new. Everything, the sounds of the letters. And, to be honest with you, it’s a difficult language. You’re trying to make it as easy as you can. I’m trying to use music. I’m trying to use videos. I’m trying to use songs. We actually have a SMART Board here that we use.
Bobby Dobbs (03:12)
SMART Board is the trade name of an interactive white board that uses touch detection, the 21st Century’s answer to the overhead projector used in classrooms of yesteryear. Most school districts in the state have purchased these devices, saying they are especially effective for language instruction. The board projects the students’ handwriting while linked to the teacher’s host computer.
Myrna Meehan (03:35)
It’s a challenge for our students, just like a talent development program, just like international baccalaureate. Any of those demanding academics are really, really good for a child’s brain. And, that’s why I consider this Arabic instruction to be such a gift to this building, because it does ask the students to do something more with their thinking.
Students sounding out Arabic words in the classroom.
Rafik Missak (04:01)
It’s not only about teaching again, teaching the language. It’s teaching the culture. It’s how everybody now, the businesses all over the world… Parents are great you know. Fantastic job with the parents. And, I’m really, really glad I’m here.
Marie McDonald (04:20)
He is able to bring a part of the world into light that maybe we hear a lot of things about that maybe aren’t as positive as they should be. But, we really don’t know what it’s all about. And so, he’s been about to bring that culture here to the students.
Bobby Dobbs (04:36
Winding Springs has the first elementary program, but Arabic language classes are available in many middle and high schools. And, there is a growing online program through the North Carolina Virtual Public School. Arab language classes are available through the Online Digital Textbook produced by LEARN NC and the University of North Carolina’s School of Education. The Critical Languages Institute at North Carolina State University hosts summer courses in five languages that are considered strategically important to national and global security and economic stability.
Ruth Gross (05:13)
They are the languages that are useful in the military today: Persian Urdu, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic.
Lt. Col. Ken Ratashak (05:24)
Our program really started as a result of the Secretary of Defense having an interest in cadets learning languages and having a knowledge of culture.
Bobby Dobbs (05:32)
ROTC students fromm the Army, Air Force, and Navy are eligible for scholarships for the program, which includes cultural exchanges in addition to language instruction.
Lt. Col. Ken Ratashak (05:43)
The Secretary of Defense encouraged the military to establish incentives for cadets to take languages or study abroad. When asked, “What’s one of the most important things a future officer can learn?” he said that one of his most important things was to have cultural understanding. And I believe where he really thinks it’s important is because he wants us to be adaptive, agile leaders.
Student speaking in Arabic.
Bobby Dobbs (06:10)
And it looks like these future leaders enjoy what they’ve learned.
Students speaking Arabic.
Shannon Vickery (06:39)
The Learning with the World series is produced by UNC-TV in association with LEARN NC and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. If you want to learn a little Arabic on your own, you can check out that online digital textbook produced by LEARN NC, a program of the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This free resource includes audio and video lessons as well as grammar and cultural notes for beginning language study. Go to www.learnnc.org and click on the link for critical languages.
Announcer (07:14)
Podcasts on unctv.org are made possible through the financial contributions of viewers like you, who invite you to join them in supporting UNC-TV.