By: Catalina Sánchez
Speaking a second or third language is virtually essential in today’s globalized world. Academic opportunities, better job competitiveness and, even, greater cognitive development are but some of the advantages of being multilingual.
There are currently around seven thousand different languages in the world. Among this vast number, Arabic occupies fifth place on the list of the Top Ten most popular ones, with an estimated 300 million native speakers. It is therefore no mere chance that more and more people are interested in studying it every day.
The problem is that until a decade ago, learning a language – especially when it is as complex as Arabic is – necessarily brought with it an inseparable trio of problems: money, time, and travel. However, with the democratization that has resulted from the internet and the introduction of virtual tools (such as Moodlerooms), we have entered a New Era of Learning. No longer is it necessary to be physically present in a classroom, to adapt our work schedule or to deplete our savings. All we need now if we want to learn is the desire to do so.
It was precisely due to this vision that Arab Academy was formed in Egypt. The aim of this private, independent corporation is to promote not only the Arabic language but also ethical and professional values and business skills by exploiting virtual and technological tools.
It has been a resounding success. Arab Academy currently has 90,000 students from various countries. Most of them have some type of connection with the Arabic world: on the one hand are those from the United States and/or Canada who have a Muslim tradition or Arab tradition, while others include students who need to perfect their knowledge of the language for some academic, professional and/or political reason, and non-natives who simply want to acquire some basic knowledge as beginners.
And why choose Arab Academy?
Omar El Kheshen, the academy’s managing director, explained to E-Learn Magazine the ten reasons why someone, whether an amateur or at an advanced level, should enroll on one of the platform’s courses.
- Experience: Arab Academy is one of the companies that leads the field. Few competitors offer such good academic courses in the Arabic language in terms of costs, time, quality and benefit.
- It is economical: price depends on the particular course, but some of the most ‘expensive’ in the portfolio costs around 100 dollars per month, which is very affordable.
- Technology: Moodlerooms gives the course interface a practical, agile touch that makes courses more enjoyable for students.
- Variety: it makes no difference if someone has had no previous contact with the Arabic language. There are various levels of intensity, just as there are different types of courses: Modern Standard Arabic, Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, and Islamic Arabic. Each one meets the individual needs and the profiles of the multifaceted students.
- Personalized tutoring: there is a one-on-one speaking option that allows students to have personalized conversations with teachers once or twice a week. They also have access to them at all times through chatboards and/or email addresses.
- Interaction: one of the academy’s slogans is that students ‘learn by doing’. Not by listening or by watching videos. There are interactive activities that test them all the time, thereby guaranteeing recruitment and reducing the desertion rate, which is very common in other language academies that do not use state-of-the-art learning methods.
- Flexible schedules: there are no fixed classes, specific schedules or time limits for completing courses. Everyone is free and goes at his/her own pace.
- Quality: teachers are chosen carefully, and are strictly and fully trained.
- Transparency: a further important aspect is that there is no possibility in the courses for governmental and/or cultural opinions to filter through. Promoting controversial issues relating to religion or politics is strictly prohibited.
- Forming a team: this is one of the most important points for El Kheshen. “Students are in contact at all times not only with the teachers but also with their colleagues. They don’t have to navigate the journey through learning a new language alone, since they do it as part of a community”.
Testimonials are worth more than a thousand words
“The Arab Academy has a good study plan for learning the language. I can improve it via a website that explains everything in two languages: English and Arabic. The academy has excellent teachers who have special talents for making the learning process more enthusiastic”. Dr. Windratmo Suwarno, First Secretary at the Indonesian Embassy in Cairo.
“It was a good decision. It was almost four months ago that I started this great online course, and my experience so far has been fantastic. I started at beginner level (Arabic 101), and I can say that my progress has been incredibly fast. I love it, because it allows me to study at my own pace and, more importantly, AT ANY TIME! The teachers are incredibly patient, competent and willing to help. In truth, all the staff are very helpful. I’m certainly going to continue studying at Arab Academy until I have mastered Arabic. Insha’Allah!”. Dragana Selakovic, Slovenia.
* Source: Omar El Kheshen, Managing Director, Arab Academy.
Photos by: Pedro Costa