Photo Omar El Kheshen, Managing Director, Arab Academy.

Over 130,000 Students Learn Arabic Online with Blackboard Open LMS

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The following story is an update of an article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on Apr 22, 2016. Click here for the Spanish version.

Arabic is the fifth language most spoken worldwide, with an estimated 300 million native speakers. Arab Academy is an online Arab language education platform that has helped more than 130,000 students, from over 192 countries, learn and improve their mastery of the Arabic language since 1999.

Until a couple of decades ago, learning a language – especially one as complex as Arabic – necessarily brought with it an inseparable trio of problems: money, time and travel. Since today it’s no longer necessary to be physically present in a classroom, to adapt our work schedule to study, or to deplete our savings, if we want to learn, all we need is the desire to do so.

It was due to this vision that Arab Academy was formed in Cairo. The aim of this private independent company is to promote not only the Arabic language but also ethical and professional values and business skills by exploiting digital tools.

According to Omar El Kheshen, managing director, Arab Academy has developed online learning courses for all age groups and language needs. The Academy uses Blackboard Open LMS as its platform.

“The courses are highly interactive and allow learners to work and improve their language skills at their own pace. Learners work at the time, place and intensity that suit them most. This makes it possible for them to customize their learning path and achieve excellent results in Arabic quickly and efficiently,” El Kheshen explains.

Most of the students at Arab Academy have some type of connection with the Arab world. Some are students from the United States or Canada who have a Muslim or Arab background; Some need to perfect their knowledge of the language for academic, professional and or political reasons; and there are those who are non-natives and simply want to acquire some basic beginner knowledge.

Customized Learning

According to El Kheshen, Arab Academy’s strengths are down to two factors: A curriculum that has become the standard for teaching and assessing students’ progress in learning Arabic online, including an array of course offerings meant to encompass all levels of proficiency, and a team of highly qualified and dedicated instructors.

El Kheshen explains that their teaching and learning process follows a constructivist approach. This means that the academy gives equal emphasis to the use of Arabic and contextual communication by means of the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

“Arab Academy’s online Arabic language courses provide learners with a comprehensive experience that is, in many ways, similar or actually superior to Arabic language classroom courses. Our technology-oriented educational platform makes our educational content accessible to learners anywhere in the world and provides superlative electronic support to our on-site training center,” says the managing director.

Blackboard LMS tools, such as the Gradebook, Quizzes and Assignments, SCORM packages, and Conduit enrollment, are among the most useful for the academy’s instructors. “We aim to deliver online courses that engage students well with course content, and so, the tools are of great help to both teachers and students,” says El Kheshen.

The managing director affirms that he would definitely recommend Blackboard Open LMS to other educational institutions.

“It has an intuitive interface that teachers can readily customize, and it’s easy for learners to use and navigate. The available tools have both provided a high quality online learning experience and enhanced classroom teaching. Also, the technical support team is always willing to help when an issue comes up,” El Kheshen concludes.

10 Reasons to Choose Arab Academy        

  1. Experience: Arab Academy is one of the leading companies in the field. Few competitors offer such complete academic courses in the Arabic language in terms of cost, time, quality, and results.
  2. Cost-effective: Some of the most ‘expensive’ courses in the portfolio cost around $100 per month, which is very affordable.
  3. Technology: Blackboard Open LMS gives the course interface a practical, agile touch that makes courses more enjoyable for students.
  4. Variety: It doesn’t matter whether someone hasn’t had any previous contact with the Arabic language. There are various levels of proficiency and different types of courses, such as Modern Standard Arabic, Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, and Islamic Arabic.
  5. Personalized tutoring: A one-on-one speaking option is available, allowing students to have personalized conversational sessions with teachers once or twice a week, as well as access to them at all times through chat boards or email.
  6. Interaction: ‘Learn by doing’ is among the academy’s slogans. As a result, there are interactive activities that continuously test students, thereby guaranteeing enrollment and reducing desertion rates.
  7. Flexible schedules: There are no fixed classes, specific schedules, or time limit for completing courses. Students are free to learn at their own pace.
  8. Quality: Teachers are chosen carefully and are fully trained.
  9. Transparency: Political or cultural opinions cannot filter through on the courses. Promoting controversial issues relating to religion or political ideologies is strictly prohibited.
  10. Being part of a team: This is one of the most important aspects for El Kheshen. “Students are in constant contact not only with the teachers, but also with their colleagues. They don’t have to navigate the journey of learning a new language alone, since they do it as part of a community.”

What the students say

“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 the 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, Student, Slovenia


Photos: Pedro Costa.