Jordanian parents whose children suffer from speech disorders often cannot afford intervention by a speech therapist. This is why just a minority of these children receive the necessary treatment. KAAD alumna Dr. Saada Bader from Jordan wishes to work for positive change in this regard. The clinical linguist has done intensive research about speech therapy options. “There are only three public universities offering Clinical Lingustics as a specialization here in Jordan. But the need for specialized intervention is huge. We also do not have systematic screenings.”
A KAAD scholarship granted to her in the years 2006 to 2010 gave Saada Bader the opportunity to pursue her doctoral studies in the field of Clinical Linguistics at the University of Bielefeld. Under the supervision of Professor Dr. Dafydd Gibbon (Fakultät für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft), Saada Bader concluded her Ph.D. studies with a dissertation on ‘’The Phonology of Typical and Atypical Language Acquisition: A Study of Jordanian Arabic Speaking Children” with summa cum laude in 2010.
Solid foundations for this success had been laid when Saada Bader obtained her Bachelor degree in 2002 in the field of “English for Specific Purposes” at the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), in her hometown of Irbid. After getting her Master degree in the field of Applied Linguistics in 2005 she was teaching at the JUST and involved in a number of research projects. The decision to specialize in children’s speech disorders was taken in 2006. “The University of Bielefeld was the ideal place for this”, the KAAD alumna recalls. “I had the unique chance of combining theoretical work with a field study at the pathological centers in Jordan to diagnose and provide therapeutic plans for various speech disorders. This proved to be very effective for my future professional career.”
Dr. Saada Bader returned to Jordan in 2011 and started working as an Assistant Professor at Jadara University in the Northern city of Irbid, teaching Phonetics, Phonology and Child Language Acquisition at the Department of English Language and Literature. “Studying in Germany was a major experience that changed my academic life and has set important goals for my career future,” Saada Bader explains. “This experience has enriched my cultural, scientific, and social experience; it has actually broadened my professional horizons. This became very clear after my return to Jordan and helped me a lot in setting up my career. Germany has taught me a lot of life values: being disciplined, hard-working and precise to accomplish my goals and to fulfill my dreams.”
On a practical level, the experience of an unfamiliar language environment has proven to be particularly fruitful for Saada Bader, because this confronted the expert linguist with “the difficulty of learning another foreign language. This has been an experience she continues to benefit from in her part-time teaching assignment at the German Jordanian University (GJU) where she teaches “first and second language acquisition”.
The Jordanian lecturer does not deny the challenges that lay along the way: “In Germany, I always had those feelings of homesickness, but – seriously – my reintegration back home in Jordan after my studies was even harder. You cannot avoid the daily automatic comparison between the German and the Jordanian life styles, with all that it means to be living in the Middle East with all the current political and economic events happening now in this area of the world.” When looking back on her time as a KAAD scholar in Germany, Dr. Saada Bader thankfully recalls how much she has benefitted from “the great hospitality, the support of the KAAD family and the beauty of gaining friends from all over the world.”