When Marwa Thabet and her family left Egypt and immigrated to the U.S. over a decade ago, a career in teaching wasn’t part of her plan for a new life in a new country. They started over from scratch, with no money, savings or careers.
In Cairo, Thabet worked as a French and Arabic translator. Her plan was to continue in this profession when she arrived in America. Instead, she landed a job at an after-school program and then had the opportunity to teach at a private school.
“I loved every minute I spent with my students and I decided to continue in that career,” she recalls. “I look at my students as young minds and souls with unlimited potentials who need teachers who believe in the best version of them.”
Thabet is a graduate of Ain Shams University-Faculty of Al-Alsun (Languages) in Cairo, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in French. She then earned a master’s degree in education at Cal Poly Pomona, followed by enrolling in Cal State Fullerton’s world languages credential program in Arabic, her native language.
She was the first to complete CSUF’s single subject credential program in Arabic last May and finished with a 4.0 GPA. She was hired to be the first teacher in the Anaheim Union High School District to teach Arabic. Her classes at Western High School include students whose first language is Arabic, as well as to non-native speakers of the language. The school district has about 500 students whose home language is Arabic.
Thabet, who speaks four languages and is learning Spanish, taught two Arabic language classes to 37 students in grades 9-12 who are native speakers, as well as to students who want to learn the language this school year. Next school year, she will teach five classes for beginners to advanced learners.
How did CSUF prepare you?
The College of Education’s coursework provided me with the essential and most updated knowledge in teaching, in addition to unique and multiple opportunities to gain classroom experience to put this knowledge in application and to reflect on the most effective teaching practices. Since I am teaching a new language program, I had to develop five different course proposals aligned to college entrance A-G course requirements. All of them got approved without any revision required. A big part of my success in writing the curriculum for the courses was the intensive preparation I received at CSUF.
What is the need to teach Arabic?
Arabic is the fifth most commonly spoken language in the world and there is a high demand and low supply of Arabic speakers in the Western world. The U.S. government has designated Arabic as a language of strategic importance, and Arabic-speaking nations are a fast growing market for trade. I am passionate about learning and teaching languages because every language one learns opens a door to a new world of perspectives, cultures, knowledge, and unique opportunities in life. Every opportunity I have had in my life is because of the languages I speak.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I love seeing my students grow and make progress not only academically, but also as individuals who respect themselves and respect others. I want to be the teacher that empowers one student at a time.
Do you have any advice for students?
Work or volunteer in a classroom and that will help you in setting your goals and making sure the teaching profession is for you. Teaching comes with very difficult challenges, yet awesome and unique rewards — and for me, the rewards are worth it all.