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Student Stories- Chat with Alan

Student profile

Name: Alan Coady

Age: 61

Studying: Introductory Certificate in Arabic Language


About me

My name is Alan Coady and I’m a 61-year-old, retired peripatetic teacher of classical guitar. Formerly I worked for East Lothian Council, teaching in five schools a week – two primary schools and three high schools. Throughout my working life, one of my main hobbies has been languages. In my 20s, I had many French friends (often Language Assistants in schools) and spoke French in many of my social hours. I also began my formal studies of Spanish in evening classes. In later life, I explored Portuguese, Italian, Latin (sitting Intermediate II and then Higher in my early 50s). In my 40s, I studied Polish with a local teacher, which was very handy as there were many Polish pupils in schools at that time. At the same time as sitting Higher Latin, I also sat advanced Higher Spanish.

Other interests include: martial arts (member of Five Winds School of Tai Chi Chuan); music aside from teaching guitar I’ve written much background music which is used on TV and Radio across the world; I’ve put aside guitar playing for the moment to return to the piano, my first instrument. I love reading (especially biography, history, novels, poetry, science); creative writing; cinema; theatre; art galleries/museums. I like to get out and walk as much as possible. I like to travel and, apart from visiting Spain frequently, I’ve visited Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, New York. I’ve yet to visit an Arab country but hope to do so soon.


Tell us about your experience studying with Al-Maktoum College

I joined Al-Maktoum in November 2020, a late arrival in a course that had begun in September of the same year. I had initially set off on my Arabic language journey with a local evening class in Edinburgh, which was stopped due to lockdown. I tried to survive using Duolingo for many months until having a few Zoom lessons with a former Arabic student of St Andrews University, who was a friend of former pupils. He only had a few weeks to spare before leaving for Sudan and sent me links to three sources of online learning in Edinburgh, Dundee and London. After looking at all three, I favoured Al-Maktoum for various reasons: price; likelihood of finding a suitable level; the friendly efforts of college staff to answer my queries and taking the time to allow me to sit a ‘progress test’. Intuitively, I had the feeling that there was a family feel to Al-Maktoum, which turned out to be the case.

I was very impressed at the resources provided throughout the course: the many booklets; the audio resources; the ‘film nights’; the Natakallum sessions which were great fun; the tireless marking and communication of our lecturer, Fatima Aldergazaly. I was impressed at the balance between the various disciplines of language learning: reading, writing (by hand and on keyboard); listening; speaking. And I thoroughly enjoyed the classes. The mood was always light and thankfully free of unnecessary formality but we worked hard.

In addition to the joy of learning, I was delighted to find what a lovely group of people I was joining. There was not the slightest hint of rivalry – quite the reverse and students were keen to help one another, sending useful links etc through our WhatsApp group, which is still intact. There was a lot of humour in the course, especially in our conversation practice. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and Al-Maktoum and look forward to continuing.


What do you plan to do with your newfound Arabic Language skills?

Having crashed in late to the course (Week 7/20) I’m now revisiting and revising all the course materials. Having had all of our work corrected, I always made the necessary changes and now feel confident in using these documents to copy out, for the sake of (1) embodying spellings (2) reinforcing memory (3) practising hand-writing. I also copy out the ‘stories’ from the booklets provided. I have applied for the ‘Intermediate Summer Course’ beginning later this month and am considering taking up the college Arabic Language course at level SCQF7/8.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

As for ‘advice’ for potential students, I feel I can vouch for: the quality of education; the level of support; the friendly, family feel from academic and office staff which I’ve experienced at Al-Maktoum College.