Parenthood opened up our eyes to a lot of different perspectives. Having an idea and then materializing it, are two totally different things. The first thought that had come into our minds was to make the education of our kids fun and exciting. Something they look forward to, something that they love doing. Turns out, most of the parents of this generation have the same thought. Farashaty.com was born out of the determination of a mother who wanted to change the way Islamic education was presented. It is an immense pleasure to feature the brain behind this endeavor.
Farashaty.com / Aya Aly
My name is Aya Aly and I am the founder of Farashaty.com. I am Egyptian born, Canadian raised, and living in the US. While I have been teaching in some capacity since I was 15, I am actually an engineer by training. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and found myself looking for teaching opportunities wherever I could find them. After having my first born, I started looking for creative routes to introduce her to the Arabic language, including creating my own materials. From there, I realized the very specific niche my passion fell into – I wanted to teach kids Arabic, regardless of their lingual background or place of residence.
I find my strength isn’t in a scholarly level of Arabic (although I am fluent), but in my ability to break down the information and relay it to others. My kids are my product testers and help me prove or disprove any new theories I may have in mind. They also make the process infinitely more fun.
I hope we can become a part of your journey from this point forward!
My personal experience with learning Arabic in the West was terribly… boring. The lack of creativity in a lot of Arabic material was especially stark for me (and others like me) because I was able to compare it directly to the material provided in schools. It seemed that everything was a very clear lesson, and there was no space for enjoyment or entertainment. This was especially true for material directed at very young children.
At fifteen, I was offered an Arabic tutoring position for several young children. I found myself including songs, rhymes and games that I prepared. As I taught more, I gained a better understanding of what was needed to get the different concepts across for different types of learners. As the years went on, some material started trickling into the market, but the gap for children under six remained massively underserved.
While I had been developing experience in this niche for years, I was only motivated to try to expand it beyond my immediate scope of people once my first born started speaking. I suddenly recognized the challenges of teaching Arabic as a second language first hand, but fluency in Arabic continued to be a top priority for me.
I wanted Arabic to be a joyful endeavour for my daughter, and everyone else in her position. I didn’t feel that this was possible with the available resources. After trying countless resources created in Arabic countries and in North America, I decided it might be worth trying to create my own. I couldn’t find resources that felt more like play than work, especially for young children. When my daughter turned one, I made her a set of what I went on to call the “Indestructible Flashcards”, and she loved them! From there, I made product after product and designed activity after activity, becoming more and more confident as I went along.
However, my second child was on the way. After thinking long and hard I decided that there would be no right time to start pursuing Farashaty.com, and starting slow while the kids grew a little would be better for me than waiting altogether. Every small piece of progress counts. I started Farashaty.com in my third trimester and have continued to pursue it ever since. I have a hurricane of ideas and ambitions in my mind at all times, only a fraction of which I can actually pursue with my time constraints, but it’s all worth it.
My vision differs from other Arabic learning resources in that I don’t believe that full immersion is always the best option. Many families wish to start the journey to Arabic learning with their children, but find the step overwhelming because they themselves have no background in the language. Making immersion seem like the only route possible only further alienates these families. I believe that blending language can be extremely beneficial for the learning of a second language when used correctly.
I always envisioned the products I have out so far as my small introduction to the world. What I hope to continue to achieve is “accidental learning” of Arabic for young children. I hope to introduce (especially unique) books, classroom resources, and games to achieve these purposes. I plan to host virtual bilingual storytimes so students of all backgrounds can follow along, and share at home activities that can be done from anywhere and at any time.
My ultimate vision is to provide a complete teaching system for young children learning Arabic as a second language, without fluent speakers around them. I want to empower the adult in the child’s life to lead the journey.
Advice to budding entrepreneurs:
I hope to one day soon be able to tell you my story of success in entrepreneurship, for now I can only offer the advice I give myself everyday: every step counts. There will always be a reason to delay pursuing your dream (some would argue a newborn baby is a very good one), but I truly believe that when you can’t go fast, slow and steady will win the race. We have grown accustomed to the virality mindset; you either grow instantly or you must have failed. I would like to invite you to bring back the idea that success is at the top of a mountain we need to climb, and some parts of that climb will be steeper and slower than others. Please do everything in your power to pursue the message you believe in, whatever it may be and regardless of the length of the road. Overcoming our own doubts is the biggest and most important struggle on any path we follow. May we all follow our hearts and attain success.