Infant communication


I teach very young Saudi kids English. Which is a momentously difficult task when you consider that my Arabic is extremely limited and their English upon arrival is even less than my Arabic.

So each class is normally filled with a lot of Monty Python type exaggerated dancing and jumping motions as I try to convey whatever message I’ve got planned for the lesson.

An early vocabulary guide for anyone who intends to work with very young Saudi kids is as follows:

Moya :

Literally: “Water”
Contextually: “I would like to go and drink some water.”


Literally: “Bathroom”

Contextually: “I need to go to the bathroom” or it could also be “I would like to go and drink some water” if you’ve just recently told them they’re not allowed to leave the classroom to get water.

ḥammām darūrī:

Literally: “Bathroom important.”
Contextually: “It is very important that I visit the bathroom in the near future and woe to you and the school janitor if you ignore this request.”

Awwal wāḥid:

Literally: “First one!”
Contextually: “I have successfully managed to take my books out of my bag as requested.”

Me bencil:

Literally: “Me pencil”
Contextually: “I wish to contest the ownership of that boy’s pencil.”

Mā ‘indī:

Literally: “Not with me.”
Contextually: “I realise that this may be irritating for you but I neglected to bring my school books/homework/pencil with me today.”

Fī bayt:

Literally: “In [my] house”
Contextually: “The location of said enquired about items (books/homework/pencil) is my house.”


Literally: “Break-time.”
Contextually; “I have lost interest in what you’re doing and want to go outside and play.”

*tut and swift movement of the head to the right*
Literally: “No!”
Contextually: “No!”


In terms of the English that I have taught, well I tend to start with the basics such as:

1) “Sit down” and the emphatic variant “Sit down, now!”

2) “Stop that!”

3) “Stop shouting!”

4) “Why did you do that?”

5) “Stop fighting!”

6) “Get down from there!”

7) “Give him back his pencil.”



Filed under School

3 responses to “Infant communication

  1. susu

    HILARIOUS! As one who knows arabic, and one who has lived in the gulf, i have to say that i have come across several of the childrens’ sayings. However, my two favorite words have to be, without a doubt; brobably, and bebsi! ^__^

  2. Don’t forget those with doctorates and BHD after their names.

  3. speed2kx

    Asalaamu ‘alykum wr wb

    lol subhan Allah so funny!

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