Episode Transcript
Ixchell Reyes 0:00
The DIESOL podcast,

Brent Warner 0:02
Developing Innovation in English as a Second or Other Language,

Ixchell Reyes 0:06
Episode 97: Self Empowered Language Learning: Interview with student and teacher Mahmoud.

Brent Warner 0:26
Welcome to DIESOL, this is episode 97. We are your hosts. I’m Brent Warner.

Ixchell Reyes 0:31
And I’m Ixchell Reyes. Hey Brent, it is 2024.

Brent Warner 0:37
It is.

Ixchell Reyes 0:37
And here we are three episodes closer to 100.

Brent Warner 0:41
Getting there are you gonna get there soon before you know it.

Ixchell Reyes 0:44
Yeah, before you know it. Oh my goodness. Well, by how long do you have left in Japan

Brent Warner 0:52
I still have seven months or so still, it’s still a while I’ll be I’ll be here until end of July or early August kind of pushing it to the limit. So. So kind of trying to explore our way, you know, around this southern side. I think I mentioned that before. And yeah, then otherwise trying to kind of buckle down on work a little bit as well. And make sure I’m working on my project, which we will talk about very soon.

Ixchell Reyes 1:21
So we’ve had a couple of student guests before on the show. And today I’m super excited because we have a guest who’s I guess, a student but also a teacher. And so I’m going to introduce Mr. Mahmoud Abu Hoff, also known as Polaris. He is a diligent and ambitious English instructor, who recently became a full time ESL instructor for the language institute of the Jordanian armed forces. This happened after serving in the artillery field as a fire chief and a field interpreter and translator during joint exercises over the last 10 years. So that’s a whole decade. And that’s a lot more experience in areas that I can’t even imagine myself in. He is quite skilled with a lot of leadership qualifications. Having spent time in different US military bases like Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Benning, Georgia, and I have had the pleasure of having him in my methodology course. As an instructor of English. So, Polaris!

Brent Warner 2:42
Welcome, Polaris.

Polaris 2:43
Yes. Thank you, Miss Ixchell. Thank you, Mr. Brent, thank you for having me here. And I’m super excited to share my experience. And this is going to be one of the things I will never forget about being here in the US as a student of the Miss Isha class. It’s been a great pleasure to learn from it.

Brent Warner 3:08
Excellent. Yeah. Well, we’re glad to have you for sure. And, and it’s kind of cool to see, this is a this is a unique relationship here. Because we’re talking about this transition, you’re already a teacher, you’re coming through as like teacher training on some levels. Going into colleague level, I kind of like where this is going.

Polaris 3:27
Actually, I used to be an instructor, but like, not for language as like in the artillery, I used to be an instructor for for the equipment that we worked on. And during that time, I joined I went to the university and studied translation and English literature. And when I graduated, I get the chance to be transferred to the language institute. That’s where I’d be gone to become an English as a second.

Ixchell Reyes 3:57
So there’s a couple of things I forgot. And so I want to make sure that I did call you Polaris. And I want to start with how you got that nickname, because that’s what I’m gonna call you for the rest of the show if that’s okay.

Polaris 4:15
Okay, so, as you mentioned, my name is Mahmoud, Abu Kola, and I’m from Jordan, my tribe or my family name. We come from the north Jordan from a city called the agilon. There was one night when I was in, my family was like, clear sky night. And we were sitting outside. My father just told me to look up the sky. And he asked me, which one is the brightest star you see right there. And I told him, that’s what he said, You know what it’s called? I told him the name in Arabic. And it was like that Misha mal in Arabic. And he said, Well, you know, that’s you. You’re From the north and you are a star and you are the prime minister. So keep being like that. And since then I, I Googled, like what is let me check out in Arabic what is it in English? I went to Wikipedia until I found in colors. I went back to my father and I told him you know that Mishima means Polaris in English and he said, Okay, just go with you are Polaris

Ixchell Reyes 5:26
Oh, I wanna cry already?!

Brent Warner 5:31
That’s a wonderful story.

Polaris 5:32
Thank you sir.

Ixchell Reyes 5:35
So Polaris, as you mentioned, that you were an instructor before but I’m really curious as to, I guess your your journey as a language student. And maybe just tell us a little bit about that how you went from and I again, I don’t know if you were already speaking English, or how that happened. Because not everybody gets to make that transition from.

Polaris 6:01
Like, for me, I consider myself that I was lucky enough in the past, in high school, I had some really good teachers that I also would never forget, like, back in 2009 2010. Before I even joined the, the military, my teachers were very good. And in high school, when I got my, my scores, I was shocked as everybody else that I scored in English, more than any other subject more than even Arabic. So I was I was telling everyone that I, I really liked that. And I found myself really interested in England, I watched a lot of movies, and I’ve been listening to a lot of songs, you know, not the hip hop or the pope like the the romantic points like Pope Bali, you can say, like Whitney Houston songs, or they have something that I can understand as an Arabic speaker. And one of my favorite songs of all time is hotter, California by ego. So what songs I started to practice to pronounce English better. And then my father just told me to go ahead and go to the university, I tried to apply in my second time in the army. But it was like, there were regulations that you cannot go to university unless you serve for at least six years. So I postponed that to him for like four days for four years. And during these four years, I kept working on myself like my pet. On a personal level, I kept reading books, novels, and watching more movies like Lord of the Rings, I know all about it. Braveheart, my favorite movie, until I get the chance to actually apply for the university. And before I got my confirmation for university, there was a course that I took in here in 2011. I went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. So one of the reasons that made me stick to my goal and really wanting to, to complete and accomplish this. And this one will make you very happy. And it’s very shocking for you mister. I went to a Subway restaurant here in San Antonio. I remember that in 2011. And I wanted let us let us in my sandwich, I ordered a sandwich. And it was by one and lettuce. I was like, behind the glass, give me lettuce. But I didn’t know the word that is in English. And the lady made me the sandwich and she didn’t put lettuce in it. And I ate the sandwich. Like thinking oh, why couldn’t I ask for the I was put in Arabic has because that’s what she was like, What is hers? Because I was pointing from behind the glass. She keeps pulling more olives and like anything but not let us so that really stayed with me for a long time. Like, if I couldn’t have letters of my sandwich, how could I survive in a new environment? How could I like just walk around and acting like I know the language. I know I would never be an M speaker but at least I will try to learn and that situation encouraged me to go back and also pursue my dream. So I tried it my My irrigation started my education, I think 2017 was when I started. And also in university, I kept pushing myself to the limit. Like, in the first year, I remember in the first semester, I met a student, she was like a senior student, like, about to graduate. And she was very upset. She had something to talk about, but no one to talk with. And I said, What is going on? And she said, you know, we, we started the idea of the English club. And we’ve been working in the English club for the university. And now we are graduating, and there is no one interested into continuing our idea for the English club. And I thought the author told me more about it. And he said, In the English club, we learn with fun with activity, just like knowing we will learn with your musician. We will have activities away from the

Ixchell Reyes 10:55
away, follow the curriculum, what are you talking about?

Polaris 10:58
I know I really like the six the 369. Yeah. So she explained to me that if you want to learn, you don’t have to be in a classroom you could do with a friends, and outside with a group talking, making a discussion with the groups. So I took that, and I went to the dean of my faculty, and I told him, I want to be in the English club. And he told me, we’re all members of the English club, I graduated are about to graduate, so it will be only you. And I told him, Okay, give me some time, I will get you students. And from there, I created a Facebook page called the English club of Zack university, my university. And it started encouraging my friends. And by the time I graduated, I had 350 students. Geez.

Ixchell Reyes 11:53
So yeah, English club.

Polaris 11:59
And I can I had like about 20 students who were like top in their classes who could actually teach other students. Like, we used to have kinds of sessions like area, grammar session, storage, session, data, storage, session, share, attack, share anything. So in the grammar sessions, like we used to put them where it’s about mid semester, when exams are about to come. And everybody’s worried about their grammar, I would bring one of the good students, but him or her in a classroom and tell him or her, Okay, you have to like, talk about the present perfect. And she would talk and groups of students will come in and out listening to her. And actually, that somehow, who made some of the instructors, the purpose was in the university med. Well, where are my students, and they’re all with followers in the library. I want to tell them, I’m sorry if they listen to.

Brent Warner 13:11
This is great, though polar. So I’m hearing two things. And I love that the lettuce story first. So yeah, with the lettuce story, you’re kind of saying, and this is I think, important. I think a lot of modern educators are so worried about making every experience positive, or, you know, so it’s got to be positive. It’s can’t be any problems and things like that. But it’s actually Yeah, well, I’m

Polaris 13:37
saying, when I when I thought about it was very simple and very hard at the same time. Right.

Brent Warner 13:43
Right. Right. And so that’s what I’m thinking is like a failure, you know, you’re you’re kind of saying in that side, you’re talking about like failures, right failures in the ability to do something can’t is a huge motivating factor for people, right. And so you’re saying, Hey, hold on a second. Now, of course, we’re speaking with no problem. And, you know, and so, when you’re talking about 1212, or 13 years ago, right, this huge change that you went through from a small, small failure but important to you, and then you switch it to the other story, and you’re talking about having fun with the game. So I like this combination of failure and fun as ways to succeed in a language right because both of these build up together.

Polaris 14:21
And also during my my time in university, I was still in the artillery artillery corpse. My commander used to say, Okay, we have an excise with US troops and you’re studying English. So you will be the translator. So they will just they will just put me in the middle of the situation. I would have exams in University working with exercises going out to the desert like shooting missiles, coming back, typing and working. And I was very heavy load for me, but I looked at it as an opportunity to take more I’m more of the language because I, I believe that if I want to learn the language, I cannot do that if I don’t speak to the people who actually have the language than the native speakers. So having American soldiers in our units, it was very beneficial for me. And it was me always jumping and saying, I want to go, I want to go, I want to go. Even if I knew that it was going to be very heavy, I would like some days, I remember that my mind was going to explore having a lot of things final examine University and exercise back to different words to different environments, like being a university student, but at the same time being a soldier who was showing muscles and exercises, and I’m trying to take the language from here to apply it here. Finally, I like in my last semester, I get to graduate with the excellence, I graduated with the 92. And after that, my commander also in the artery, he, he kind of put my name forward for being transferred to the language institute. And he said, I have this one, he’s very competent, and I thank him for that again. And they took me, they took me like last November, like the about, you can say, six to seven months before I come here to the US for the base class.

Ixchell Reyes 16:38
So I want to rewind just a little bit before we start talking about you transitioning into a language teacher. So I heard you saying that you you took every opportunity that they offered you, you volunteered. And you it’s like you took initiative and I’ve always been curious party again, particularly for speakers of Arabic coming to learn English, that’s it’s quite a it’s difficult, very difficult different writing system, a lots of new sounds and a lot to take in. What would you say encouraged you or when you face those difficulties, or maybe other students around you, because Brent and I have both taught Arabic speakers. And it’s hard, it’s hard.

Polaris 17:29
Well, for me, what encouraged me the most is the environment that surrounded me, everybody. Like I was lucky enough, as I said, before, that I had a lot of support from my mind surrounding people in work or in university or even at home. Like when whenever I had an exam for for, like, the translation or the interpretation. I remember my brothers and sisters, they stood with me, and they said, You know what, today, we will not talk to you all in English. So if you don’t speak English, no one will talk to you. And you don’t get to have the remote, the remote control for the TV, you will be sitting on the corner, no one will talk to you. And I said okay, and that really encouraged me. And also, I have an uncle and some relatives who live in another city from where I live. And in between in the middle. There’s the ancient city of Jerash I don’t know Mr. Blood going there. So So Josh, we have a lot of tourists, foreigner, tourists, English speakers will go there. So anytime I get a chance to go there, I would just be like, someone dropped me with this industry. I would wait for family like if I see them like American or like a British families, reading family, anyone who speaks English. I would kindly stop them for a moment. Like it will be about 8am I would go to them, I tell them hey, I’m sorry for interrupting. i My name is Mahmoud. And I’m a student of English and translation and literature. And I would like to improve my my language and my proficiency. And can I have a chance to join to join you and spend the day with you. At the same time, I will show you the place and I will show you the things that you don’t know. I’ll tell you some information and take you to good places like if you want to go to a restaurant if you want to go to a good market. I can help you with that. And everybody was very shocked that this young man is willing to do this just to learn the language. And I would have I have spent days like from 8am to five or 6pm Like just in just in the in the historic district.

Ixchell Reyes 20:00
You’re giving around tours. Free tours!

Polaris 20:03
Yeah, giving free tours, just because I wanted to hear the language from the people who spok it. And I wanted to improve my listening before I improve my speaking because I knew that if I listen, good, and clearly I would be able to speak even.

Brent Warner 20:24
So I actually had an experience similar to that when I was in Beijing when I was a college age. And I was unsure it for I love your approach there because there’s like, you’re kind of telling what’s going on at the beginning and saying, like, Hey, I’m a student, I’m trying to learn these things, because that helps people feel a little safer. Like it’s not a scam of some sort, right?

Polaris 20:48
Yeah, some of them would, would look at you like, what is it?

Brent Warner 20:53
And I had that. So when I was in China, this, these two people, a man and a woman are boy and a girl, they’re, they’re college age as well. And they came up to us and started talking, and I wasn’t sure what was going on. But they really wanted that exact same thing. They’re like, No, we’re just, we’re just trying to practice English because we don’t get any English practice in most of China. Right? And so we have to kind of go out and be proactive. I don’t know what happened to those people, but I’m sure it’s that same attitude of like, I’m gonna go for it, you know, like, I it’s not just gonna come to me, I have to go and get it right. And so. So I really appreciate that. That angle, and I think a lot of students have this expectation. Well, it’s some point, it’s just gonna come to me, it’s like, no, no, no, I gotta go go get it.

Polaris 21:40
It actually, it all started from that student, I told you about the one who was the head of the over the president of the English club before before me. When I had that conversation with her, she said something. I also like, for me, I always go with details with attachment with details like things, little things would affect me, what would take me to a level? So the Why are you worried? And she said, No one wants to break their glass wall. And I stood there, what is what is the glass? Or what are you talking about? She said, all of them have the vocabulary, all of them have studied grammar, all of them know how to use it, but no one wants to use, there is a glass wall between you. And speaking to the other side, talking to someone. And this glass wall. If you break it, you just go ahead and open your wings and fly with the length. Even if you do mistakes, even if you commit mistakes, like right now, as we’re speaking, I’ve done a lot of mistakes. But at least I I talk I speak I try. One of the mistakes I always do is the difference the difference between the sound pair and because we don’t have we don’t have in Arabic. So I just said speaking instead, instead of speaking. So for for you guys, it might sound weird, but for me, I just I’m just trying to like to produce more length as much as possible. Because I just want to that glass wall to be broken between me and others.

Ixchell Reyes 23:29
Have another another moment where I’m just like, clutching my heart and trying to hold back tears. But Lars that reminds me a lot of Rembrandt. I don’t know if I’ve, I’ve mentioned this to you before. But when I was in Taiwan, of course, it’s a very high stakes testing in English type of culture, as as many of the Asian cultures are. And a lot of the students, they would constantly they would want to talk only to the native speakers. But there’s, of course not a lot of native speakers available. So they would say, well, we don’t have native speakers. We really need a native speaker to be able to speak better. And I found this one kid, and he’s probably 1918 or 19. So he was really just a kid, but he spoke so well. And I just thought how I asked them, How did you? How did you learn because he didn’t study overseas? And he said, well, a lot of my my friends say we need a native speaker, but how are you going to find a native speaker in this country, and the only thing you can do if you don’t have that environment is to create that environment for yourself. So I went on YouTube and I started playing video games and started to talk to native speakers, you know, through the collaboration and in videos and games. And that’s how he did it and he said he would challenge himself to just want one hour speak only English which is very hard when everybody else is speaking language. So Polaris, you’re reminding me of how important it is to remind yourself that when that environment is in there you, you can change that environment you can influence what happens. And to what extent that happens.

Polaris 25:16
Actually, it is possible for for anyone, but I know that my story is not that great, much bigger stories, where people really did a complete change for a whole society or a whole neighborhood. But at least if you if you try to give, you will get something in return, that is, for sure. And for the surrounding environment, I always say we like we have a say in Arabic, it says, surround yourself with the best to be better. So, when whenever you you feel like you can’t, you don’t have the ability, you don’t have, like, the courage to do something, just go and be with someone who can and just watch, look at them what they do, or just listen to them. And you will learn from them. If not directly in there. Like one way or another, you will hear another saying we have that I would like to apply to the language learning process. I don’t promote that. But like the what is saying literally because it says if you never had an accident, you are not a good driver. I’m not telling, I’m not telling people to go and have a just like when you look at it, like if you had a failure if you had a bad experience that will teach you and that will, will tell you what to avoid in the future and where to go.

Ixchell Reyes 26:58
That’s I’m thinking of all the Texas drivers right now.

Brent Warner 27:03
I’m a great driver. I’ve been in 20 crashes. (laughter)

Ixchell Reyes 27:12
So as I said earlier, Polaris is now a language teacher. I mean, in addition to being a translator, and all of that, I guess they’re one of the reasons why I thought you would be a great guest is because you really make an effort in engaging students. And so I kind of want to shift over to that. And maybe talk a little bit about that maybe challenges or what what you look for in order to also motivate Arabic speakers, your students and maybe or the the reality of teaching a language and for you, I suppose.

Polaris 27:53
I mean, when it comes to challenges, of course, everybody faces challenges, I faced a lot of challenges, I cannot tell them, but when I try to, to come over them, I will do it one by one, like eliminate your challenges one by one. They try to work hard, but also try to stay concentrated. We try to stay focused on your goal. If you just run and you want to do everything at once you will be tired, of course you will be exhausted. And you will give up your say okay, I cannot do this anymore. Like there are many challenges for the Arabic students for the Arabic speakers. As I said, one of them is that the language itself has different sounds from Arabic, like for example, Deepa, and if we don’t have the sound. So for some students who are from Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, they might find it easy. But someone from Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, they will find it even harder, while while they both speak Arabic, but also the dialects play a good role in the teaching or the learning process. And also some of the challenges, I would say the the distances between between the art world and like North America or Europe, not everyone has a chance to travel. But everyone has a chance that everyone has a chance to stay awake or up until two or 3am to just watch a lecture or live lecture in some university in Europe or read in the US. So the distance plays a good or a great part and also the grammatical structure. In Arabic, we put the A verb, then the subject, and then we continue. But in English, you will have the subject and the verb. George went to the store. And they have a George Miller. McCann. So it starts with the with the verb. So, I find some students, especially when I put, like the basic level students, why would you say it like that, it’s like that. They think that the grammar structure is applied, or is like stiff for all of the language. But it’s no one, not everyone understand that. It’s different from one language to another, you cannot just take things like word for word like this, this word is medical document, I cannot say medical to be human. Being people know, in Arabic, it’s like the miracle, it’s the opposite. So if people start to understand that, or, also, even is another challenge, I see it that Arabic is, I find it a very politically sensitive language, like, very high level, the whole whole, like, Indonesia is full of images full of everything. When you look at the language of the Holy Quran, and the language that Prophet Muhammad, and his companions spoke, it’s, it’s very, like a unit. Nowadays, for for our, for the dialects in the Arabic countries. Not everyone can master this language, which is the the origin, or it’s almost like, you can say 60% of it is not used, unless you are reading from the Quran, or reading a novel, or like reading a newspaper. You cannot have the Standard Arabic industry, it’s like, when you go to the streets, in Amman city in Jordan, it’s different from our capacity from the south. And also when you go to the streets in Jordan is different from when you go to Egypt, or different from when you go to Yemen are different from meaning go to Saudi Arabia. But when it comes to the Standard Arabic, everyone agrees on it, and everyone understands it. But when when you try to tell people come on, let’s speak the standard or the one our ancestors spoke, every everyone will stop at some level. So Arabic is very difficult language. And with a deaf with a very difficult sound. Sounds like we go ha ha, ha, ba these things to have them in your language and then learn another language where you don’t have them. You think the other language like the English is going to be easier. But you keep trying to put them there. Which is makes it very difficult. It makes it very difficult. Because one way or another you want to go back to your original sounds, you want to go back to you to use your throat, you want to go back to use your lungs, you want to use the air to push the air out of your lungs. But in English, it’s mostly about the tongue and the lips. The sulfur, yeah. So it’s easier to pronounce for the English, like then having more effort with the ah ha for for for normal words. But somehow Arabic speakers would say it’s a challenge. Why don’t they have the sound? I liked the sound was there is the sound ah, and he would say no, this is like, not that strong for me. Yeah, why would you want it to be? So they will start searching for the for the strong sound because they are used, especially if you notice the Bedouin, the Bedouin side of the of the Arabic speakers. These people who spend most of their lives in the desert, and they have this tick or the hour you owe. So it’s like the countryside in the EU in the US here. I know. Sometimes you as English speakers when someone speaks the country’s slang. Yo Yo would say what what did you say? It’s the same time. Yeah, it’s the same thing for US Olympic speakers when someone individual side speak, but his language is the prestigious one is His language is the one that is closer to the, the sisters. So that’s why it’s found difficult. I’m so sorry for making that long. Like, now that I get to, I get to my new points.

Brent Warner 35:16
It’s very interesting though. So I, you know, talking about those sounds and saying that we’re not going to make, you know, we don’t make them in English, for example, the highs and the, you know, these deeper one of the things, one of the things I imagine, it’s kind of hard to convey it, it feels a little bit like, culturally insensitive to save this, but I want to, you know, I want to kind of get the point out, which is that to an American, maybe that sound is like, the sound of coughing or the sound of, you know, like trying to get something out of your throat, right. And so, it’s almost, I don’t want to say it the wrong way. But it’s almost sounds like a gross sound or something like that. Right?

Ixchell Reyes 35:59
I would classify for me, like for my ears, it’s when I think of trying to make those sounds harsher. Yeah.

Polaris 36:08
It takes too much effort, when you think about it as as an English Native American. Yeah. You’ll say, Well, why would I do this? Like I was, I was teaching one of my colleagues, how to say how are you in Arabic, it says get hired. So he, when he was trying to pronounce it, he said, Kev Harlock, instead of (unclear) you say the word, the word sounds the same to us. But the word Holic in Arabic it means your uncle. So instead of asking me, how are you asking me? You are asking me how’s your uncle (laughter)

Brent Warner 36:45
Uh… I think he’s okay? (laughter) So this is really interesting. And then I think that kind of understanding these points deeply in the way that you do. It seems like, I mean, clearly, just in the conversation, we’re able to find that you’re able to make things relevant. But like when you’re talking to actually I want to turn this around a little bit, because you’ll get also Westerners, you know, American, or British eaters coming to a place like Jordan, and trying to connect with their students. What are some of the things and I’m not sure if you’ve, if you’ve experienced this, but what are the things some things that you would tell those teachers like, Hey, these are ways to connect with students? These are ways to make to help them move maybe in ways that you wouldn’t do with students from other places, but you would do here, do you have any kind of insights in that area?

Polaris 37:39
Well, maybe one of the most important things to tell this kind of teachers is to slow down. Because in English, there is a lot of linking used, I’m gonna I want to I A. So, in for us, when we study English, we study the English from from the book from the alphabet from the words, we are not in that level, like that, for students who are in Jordan or in an Arabic country, they are not in an in a level that they can catch up very easily, because you are receiving the language you are processing in your mind. And also in your mind, you are translating, you are trying to understand like, it takes seconds. But these seconds, when they accumulate, there will be a delay, they will be like you will come to a point after three or four minutes when a native speaker is talking. And he’s peeks normally as his speaks in the US maybe or in Britain, or any speaking English speaking country, the Arabic speaker, like definitely 100%, they will raise their hand and say, Please, can you just slow down for a little bit? Even if we have a big amount of vocabulary, even we we understand everything he speaks, but we want to listen, in order to understand not just take the ideas like the big ideas. Yeah, I know if, if we had a topic about, let’s say, climate change everything he’s going to say in English, I will anticipate or I will say in Arabic as student, because it’s common idea. It’s something that is written in Google, this affects this, this leads to this, this leads to this. So what I want to listen to his language and understand what he really say, not what I just can’t learn from Google or what he just can learn from Google. So slowing down is a very, is a very good, good thing that the English teachers who go to our country need to keep in mind.

Ixchell Reyes 39:57
So well We have quite a lot of wisdom from you be the brightest star, keep going break glass door walls. And now I’m curious also, maybe I’m wondering so when, at least in my classes, I always will I always talk about engaging students through, I tend to use a lot of technology or just different ways to get them to out of the out of the rhythm of do the exercise in the book. And I’m wondering if you have used any type of technology that that you found effective if especially for your Arab Arabic speaking students, or if you have found other ways of switching things up so that they are…

Polaris 40:46
Like the ones, the ones we used in the classroom?

Ixchell Reyes 40:49
Anything that you’ve that you’ve found successful. Another way to put a twist and not necessarily talk about anything that you found useful.

Polaris 41:00
So it’s, it’s always useful to have a smartboard in a classroom, and interactive a smartphone, when you can touch the screen and be near to it and make zoom with your hands and zoom in and so on, with your own hands. Because that way, the mind is interested in this thing, and wants to know more about this thing. And once I want to know more about how to use the smartboard. I’m learning the language during the process. And also, one of the greatest tools you told me about an I be, I will be always thankful for it, which is Canva. I never, I never knew about Canva. before. I always used Microsoft PowerPoint, it took me so much time and effort, like to go to Google, take the pictures, then put them in my PowerPoint, then there it’s not jpg, it’s another format. But in Canva, everything is there. And and it’s very easy and very interactive to use. So that is something I would like to take back home with me to my to my classroom, I would like to use it. And I would like my students to see it and interact with it. And know that there are some other tools and also the Chad GBT, we all know that Chad duty, has ups and downs. So what Miss Ischl that that she introduced us to the apps and the, the the good way to use charge EBT instead of always using it to look up information, just to make things easier for yourself as a student, because the student, they know govt has everything. And they can do it for you without having to do any any effort or any extra effort. But she told us that when you go to GBT and you start asking questions in details, chat, DBT actually can give you more details. And DBT can lead you as an instructor or as a teacher of language, to how to create lesson plans how to be successful with managing the time of your lesson in the classroom. So as students, we had a lot of information, a lot of input, it was very powerful. And it was something that all of us, like my colleague from Columbia, my colleague from Tanzania, me myself from Jordan, my other colleagues, and all of us in Berlin, we will take it back home, and we will we will apply it to course, I know. There are some different situations between us like someone who’s in an African country, maybe maybe you don’t have that access that another one who is like in Italy or in Bangkok, or in Japan have to technology, but at least they have seen it with their own eyes. And they have witnessed what technology can bring to the classroom. And what interaction can bring to the classroom. Even if you have a big classroom of 40 students, you can manage to make these 40 students do something and not notice the time and stop for a while when you’re told them. Okay, time is up. And they will say no, we want to continue what happened because they they really enjoyed their time, even if they were like 40 or 30 as soon as not just five or six.

Ixchell Reyes 44:43
That’s kind of a cool place, I think to maybe wrap it up. I I love that you found those useful. Brent and I constantly talk about chat GBT and how to incorporate it into our classes and what else we can do and how can we push it. So I’m, I’m really glad it’s…

Polaris 45:02
It’s really good. I promise Miss Ixchell, I’m not gonna use it when I got for my master’s degree. I do the research myself. (Laughter)

Brent Warner 45:14
Excellent. Yeah. So I feel like we could keep on going but, but this is a good place to pause for now and maybe we’ll continue at another time. But let’s let’s shift over to fun finds.

Ixchell Reyes 45:30
All right, it is time for our fun finds. And I have found that. Brian, have you heard of a hairball we know? Her bawi makes Palestinian scarves. They started in 1961. And one of the current items that people want to use to support their friends is the Coffea I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that correctly. But but it is very hard to find one right now, of course. And it’s very hard to find one that was not made in China or it’s you know, that people are just sort of selling you on that you can actually buy a woven Palestinian scarf from her boughey usa.com. There’s a it’s now available in the States and it wasn’t before. You might be waiting for a while but it’s it’s it’s it’s a legitimate item. So awesome.

Brent Warner 46:31
And that’s the width like the pattern, the pattern and all that stuff. Yeah.

Ixchell Reyes 46:37
And they have all sorts of colors. So I mean, they’re beautiful. So very can get your hands on one with that Christmas money you probably got

Brent Warner 46:46
so I am going to share a meal that I had while we were traveling back from Yamanashi. We stopped in Yamanashi. So as you know, in Japan, there’s all these different like localized foods, right? Like it’s like food you can only get in this area. So yeah, and so. So I had Hotel, which is a hotel and it’s a it’s like a flat Udo noodles and I don’t usually like Udaan that much, but these are like flat noodle noodles. So this very thick, and then it was like in a miso pumpkin soup base. And it was so good. And it was really great in the cold. You know, so we were in the cold weather and everything but it was this very traditional restaurant we went to they had like all the, you know, like you’re sitting on the floor type of thing and a big kind of dining hall area. And it was just outstanding. So if you’re ever in Yamanashi area, and maybe maybe the surrounding areas, too, but hoto it was an excellent meal. And I was I’ve never had it in Japan before. So it was it was great. That

Ixchell Reyes 47:54
That sounds really cool. Yeah, hotel. All right. Hello, what do you have for us?

Polaris 48:01
For me, I have a Facebook page for a YouTube page. It’s a Jordanian Jordanian traveler, his name is Joe hardtop. I don’t know him in person, but I really always like to see his videos because he’s a traveler, who goes around the whole world and try to explore the cultures and the places. And most, like 90% of his videos have English subtitles, or even he speaks English in his videos because you know, English is the international language that most of the countries can scan speak. So he goes very deep in the culture where he goes, and he also you will find his videos with a very interesting titles like the giant. Here I have the giant car in Egypt. And they have like the most the most famous cook in the world. She’s from Lebanon. And he has also I arrived to the, to the furthest place where where the tribes have actually they they live, so you will get a test. They have like the most dangerous animals in the world. Who are the people who can steal honey and no one knows about them. And like Pakistani man who is the strongest man in the world, the most the fastest man in the world that has no legs. That’s one of his videos.

Brent Warner 49:43
Wow – OK, so a real explorer

Ixchell Reyes 49:46
That is a real explorer

Polaris 49:48
He goes around the world and he starts like to explore the place that he is in in a very in a very unique way and his cameraman is very good. I actually like the way they shoot the videos and the way they go around. It’s, it’s very good and very interesting. I would like you guys and peoples who are listening to people who are listening to just go and see some of your hot tub videos is a very good.

Brent Warner 50:17
Okay, so Joe Hattab that Jay Oh, II Ehat T A, B, and we’ll put that also in the show notes of course, too.

Ixchell Reyes 50:28
All right. Oh, we are on YouTube. That’s where we’ve been mostly responding to lots of comments. We’re getting more feedback there. You can share the show, buy us a coffee, support us through Patreon, leave a review or give us a shout out you could win a one of a kind diesel pen. We are diesel pod on all those platforms. Yeah,

Brent Warner 50:50
you can find the show notes for this episode at de sol.org/ 97. And you can listen to us at voice said Canada. And we’re on pretty much all the podcast podcasting platforms. So go ahead and find and our guests are you know, we’re still in January, our New Year’s with request is to share the show a little bit share it with someone who might enjoy it. Who might benefit from it. But yeah, we’re out there on social media. We’re the show is at diesel pod so we’re we’re on threads now. Ixchell, did I tell you that we’re on threads?

Ixchell Reyes 51:27
I think I’m still not on threads. I’m not on threads yet. And I’m not up threads.

Brent Warner 51:31
We’re not on threads. So you’re on blue sky. I’m on threads and kind of on blue sky. And anyways, I’m at @BrentGWarner. Some of the show we’re still trying to sort things out it’s just a lot of work to be on all these platforms. So at @DIESOLpod if we’re if we’re there. Ixchell, where are you?

Ixchell Reyes 51:50
I’m still at @Ixy_Pixy, that’s I x y underscore p i x y and whatever platform you can find me on but YouTube! Right now I’m YouTubing

Brent Warner 52:06
and Polaris is there a way for people to find you?

Ixchell Reyes 52:09
If they want to talk to you or share anything?

Polaris 52:12
Yes, sir. I’m in I’m in social media on Facebook as abulnodelschool. And I don’t have a YouTube page I used to in Corona when I when we made like, awareness videos about the corona pandemic. So I’m in Facebook, I’m on Instagram, I’m on WhatsApp and I’m up in the sky. If you look up and you see the brightest star, I’m there (laughter)

Ixchell Reyes 52:38
The brightest star that is Polaris!

Polaris 52:46
Thank you in Arabic is shukran in Jordan in Arabic we have more than 10 expressions. (Several expressions for thank you in Jordanian Arabic) and many others for tuning in the DIESOL podcast. Shukran.

Brent Warner 53:09
Awesome. Thank you!

It is not often that we find self-empowered students who take initiative over their own language learning. In this episode, Brent and Ixchell chat with Mr. Mahmoud Abukhalaf, a Jordanian ESOL instructor whose desire to communicate with English speakers led him to take charge over his language student journey. Join us as he shares the challenges he faced as an Arabic speaker learning English. He recounts moments trying to learn English in a non-English speaking country and shares some tips for English Language Teachers who might be teaching Arabic speaking English learners.

Dive into the inspiring journey of Mahmoud Abukhalaf, an English instructor from Jordan,  in DIESOL podcast episode 97. Discover how Mahmoud, also known as Polaris, transitioned from learning in school to teaching language, fostering a unique perspective on self-empowered language learning. His experiences, from working as an interpreter to starting his own English club, offer valuable insights for both students and teachers. Tune in to hear about his innovative approaches to language learning and teaching.

Key discussion points in the episode:

  • Mahmoud’s path to becoming an English language instructor.
  • The role of self-motivation and cultural immersion in language learning.
  • Challenges faced by Arabic-speaking students in learning English.
  • Innovative teaching methods and technology use in language education.

Fun Finds 

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