Research by the partners indicates that many existing courses for Arabic are descriptive, form-based and grammar-driven. Additionally, the teaching of Arabic is largely reliant on native Arabic speakers and their highly traditional, presentational approach to teaching. All this limits the learning of Arabic to a small group of learners capable of verbal abstract reasoning.
Through pedagogical and technological innovation, ArabicOnline makes the Arabic language available to a wider group of learners: The pedagogical approach, conducive to European learning styles and expectations, with individual autonomy and freedom in learning makes learning attractive and motivating, even to inexperienced language learners.
The pedagogical approach is based on needs identified by teachers at secondary and tertiary level. It is characterized by the element of interactivity, thus meeting the requirements of E-Learning2: Learners are no longer ‘receptacles’ for knowledge but participants in the creation and/or discovery of what is to be learned. Their role is to contribute their knowledge and experience to the learning environment.
Innovations in web technology have guaranteed the implementation of the ideas laid down in the conception and complement the pedagogical innovation. Together these will counteract the tendency to ‘reproduce formal teaching environments’ (E-Learning for Innovation) and offer a ‘learner specific application’.
The partners have harnessed the interactive, Web2 medium, innovated its direction, purpose and raison d’etre and adapted it to improve language learning and cultural understanding. Users feel encouraged to communicate and share experiences – necessary for acquisition of language competence – and avoid ‘lonely learning’. Especially learners at risk of exclusion will recognize the springboard helping them to re-engage with learning.