Duha Abubaker is a whiz when it comes to languages. She went to school for English translation and as a member of a family of programmers, enjoys coding as a hobby.
These two passions might not seem related to anyone else, but Duha — who teaches application development courses for Tekkie Uni, sees a strong correlation between coding and translation.
“English is a spoken language and coding is also a language, but written,” she said. “English is a means to connect with humans and coding is for communication with computers.”
Duha believes it’s just as important for kids to know coding as it is for them to learn English.
“Coding is the language of this generation, it is dominant and will play more of a role in the future,” she said. “Everyone should learn coding to adapt to this new digital world.”
How does a translator become a coding teacher?
Duha studied English language and Translation at the Arab American University AAUP in Jenin, Palestine, from 2014 to 2018. Duha managed to graduate early, despite being involved in a voluntary municipal program in the town of Ya’bad, Jenin, called “Leadership for Ya’bad”, taking additional courses, and working in translation locally.
“I am the kind of person who always searches for new opportunities to develop my skills,” said Duha, who started her Master’s degree in English Translation last year.
She came to Tekkie Uni a month after graduating.
“I came across Tekkie by chance,” she said. “I knew they wanted someone with an English background and technical skills. And I have all of that – I am tech-savvy and took a lot of computer courses when I was a kid.”
What is it like teaching coding to kids online?
Duha loves teaching coding courses. She’s able to share her love of technology and knowledge of coding with kids, and she loves watching the joy they feel when they’re learning to do new things.
“I love teaching and I like teaching kids specifically,” she said. “Their lack of experience, the way they look at life, the way I feed them the knowledge, and the simple methods I use to instruct them — all these factors come together to ensure they get the foundation they need.”
Duha teaches her students that it’s ok to make mistakes; something she’s learned herself while working with Tekkie.
“I always tell them if you don’t know the answer, it is fine, just say you don’t know,” she said.
Over the last 2 and a half years of teaching, Duha’s favorite classes have been the most active ones, where students feel comfortable enough to speak up and talk not only to her, but to each other, about the subject material.
“It was like an open discussion in which each one of my students asks a question and the other answers,” she said, of one particular group of students. “They reached a level at which they understood everything they learned from me in earlier classes and started applying it. It was like each one of my students is guiding the other.”
This is one benefit that students get from learning with Tekkie Uni, she says, the whole class learns to work together as a team, and discusses problems logically, as a group. Working this way helps kids learn how to listen and pay attention to one another.
“They also learn from each other, because each one comes to class with a different background and with a different personality,” she said.
Duha sees her role in these conversations as a facilitator. For example, she runs some open classes — classes where students can ask for additional help or get more information about the course material. Some students in these classes have strong personalities, jumping in and answering other students’ questions. Duha doesn’t mind.
“I tell them, ‘Why don’t you both communicate with each other and work on the project together?’” she says. “This way I encourage both sides. The kid with a stronger personality is urged to help, and the other who receives the feedback gets more comfortable talking to a kid who is the same age.”
It’s all part of the learning process, she says.
“No matter how comfortable they are talking to their teacher, it is different when they learn from each other – and my main role as an instructor and motivator remains,” said Duha.
How is teaching during the Coronavirus pandemic different?
The pandemic has been a tough time for everyone, including some of Duha’s students. Some of her students dropped out or postponed their courses during the quarantine. For others, however, her online class became an even more important part of their lives.
Duha thinks it’s good to see technology becoming more of a part of education, especially among Palestinian and Arab families, who may not have been as accepting of distance learning before the pandemic.
“Arab parents are now perceiving distance learning differently, after they had to experience it remotely themselves along with their kids,” she said. “They now see it as a big opportunity – given the many challenges during Corona time. Not only do they feel safer while staying at home, but they also feel more productive.”