Palestinians teach blind students English via music

Wed Mar 2, 2016 10:11am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article
[-] Text [+]

HEBRON, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian students at an elementary school for the blind in the West Bank are learning English through songs.

For the youngsters, it's a welcome departure from the usual braille textbooks and memorizing the rules of grammar.

"In specific subjects, I like to motivate them (to learn) so I teach them grammar or vocabulary by creating a song, because they feel better and they keep repeating it," said Hind Al-Tamimi.

"We are dealing with students with special needs, they are blind or visually impaired, so we urge them to depend on their hearing sense more than their sense of touch that they use in braille."

But while students said they were delighted with the new curriculum, some parents in the religiously conservative town of Hebron are concerned the use of music in the classroom is not in harmony with Islamic tradition.

Rashid Rashid, English-language studies supervisor at the Palestinian Ministry of Education, said he has been assuring families that music can be a positive learning tool.

"The people think that the musical methods and singing may lead to dancing, so they may not accept it," he said. "Before we adopted this method at all of the schools, we chose 25 schools and made it clear to the headmasters that the musical method is not taboo and not shameful."

Scientific studies have shown that musical sounds enhance neuroplasiticity, or the brain's ability to adapt and change as a result of training and experience, making learning easier.

(Writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller/Mark Heinrich)

A visually impaired Palestinian student attends a lesson at a school, where the pupils are taught English through song and music, in the West Bank city of Hebron March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad