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ERIC Number: EJ794727
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar-5
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1557-5411
Bringing the Arab World to U.S. Classrooms
Lum, Lydia
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, v25 n2 p24-25 Mar 2008
When Loren Siebert struggled to learn vocabulary for his introductory Arabic class three years ago, he figured he would buy tapes or a software package. Those kinds of aids had helped him learn French in high school and, more recently, conversational Indonesian. What he was disappointed to discover was a scarcity in offerings for Arabic, despite explosive growth nationally in class enrollment since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Written Arabic runs right to left, the opposite of English. That has daunted some U.S. software programmers so far. Complicating things is the fact that many of the course management systems in Web-based instruction like Blackboard historically haven't been able to support right-to-left languages. This article describes how Siebert, a former Marshall Scholar, decided to take advantage of his skills as a software engineer. He devised a program that became a personal study aid to learn Arabic at a University of California (UC), Berkeley class that was only supposed to occupy him while recovering from a sports injury. His program helped him strengthen his vocabulary so much that his teacher not only read aloud one of his essays in class but also kept the essay to serve as an example for future classes. His classmates took notice and asked if he would share his software, which he continued using his second semester there. When UC Berkeley hired him as a part-time lecturer of beginning Arabic for the 2006 fall semester, he realized his software could help college students everywhere. So last year, he modified and commercialized it. Called LinguaStep, the program offers students vocabulary lessons that vary daily from a few minutes to an hour. When students show proficiency in a topic, those words are automatically dropped from the flash-card program. Siebert likens this aspect to the TiVO recorder, which can suggest TV shows for someone based on his or her viewing habits.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A