[P6043] Harnessing New Technologies for Learning and Research in the Languages and Cultures of the Middle East

Created by Sonia Shiri
Tuesday, 10/06/20 01:30 pm


Recent advances in technology are re-shaping education and research and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This panel reports on four research projects pursued by different teams using new technologies to advance language and culture learning and research with a focus on Arabic and Persian.

The first presentation focuses on Optical Character Recognition (OCR), a technology that identifies and extracts textual information from images, allowing machines to read documents at a human level. OCR allows for the digitization and preservation of vast and precious historical documents stored on non-digital media. Non-Latin scripts, such as those based on Arabic, present a technological challenge, as they are cursive, contributing to low accuracy. A team of researchers is creating a new, more accurate image-to-text conversion software capable of creating a large-scale, open source, global language and culture data bank for Pashto, to be extended to languages based on the Arabic script.

The second paper reports on a study that investigates Arabic automatic text summarization, the process of creating a concise and coherent summary of a longer text while preserving the meaning and the important information in the text. L2 learners struggle with reading authentic texts especially in the first stages of learning particularly with languages such as Arabic. This study contributes to research on automatic text summarization for L2 learning and its applicability for microlearning in Arabic.

The third paper reports on the development of an adaptive language learning system that is designed to provide a cost-effective and personalized language learning experience. The system leverages artificial intelligence algorithms that have the ability to recognize patterns in student performance, diagnose deficiencies in learning, and recommend personalized content to meet individual learning needs. The project first investigates the feasibility of the technology to Arabic. It then investigates the scalability of the technology through the use of pre-existing training materials, and explores its efficiency compared to conventional instruction.

The fourth and final paper presents on the design and delivery of a blended course to help students learn an Arabic dialect and prepare for studying and living abroad. It demonstrates how the innovative use of a well-established online learning platform, combined with an interactive content development platform, and authentic materials can facilitate students’ development of essential linguistic and regional expertise. The paper shares insights on applicability to other types of Arabic and other languages and the role that the instructor plays in such a technology-mediated course.