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FYI: GT Web-based Arabic Language, Culture and History

Author: Rajaa Aquil

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

FYI Body: Dear colleagues and friends,

I would like to introduce to our community the Georgia Tech Critical
Languages Song Project. Under the auspices of a US Department of
Education International Research and Studies grant we are developing
semester-long web-based courses in advanced Arabic, Mandarin
Chinese, Japanese and Russian culture and language through song.
Our website is I am Co-IP of the program and
designer of the Arabic materials. I write today because we are seeking
programs and instructors at other universities who would be interested
in piloting our materials, ideally during this coming spring semester.

From here on, I will refer specifically to the Arabic course. This is a
fourth-year culture course with a serious intellectual component to be
taught in Arabic. It is based around a corpus of 20 songs ranging from
religious, romantic, patriotic and popular songs as early as the advent
of Islam period to the modern times represented by Jan 25 revolution in

The songs are mainly of Egyptian dialect and Modern Standard Arabic.
The course is divided into 15 units that are intended to conform to a
university semester.

The songs form compact platforms from which we branch out to
explore in depth facets of Arabic culture and history. Each unit
progresses through an introduction, listening exercises, text-notes-
context, questions for understanding, topics for discussion and writing
and suggestions for further listening.

One of the key challenges that these materials are intended to meet is
the great diversity of proficiency levels in the fourth-year classroom
from students who have spent an entire year abroad studying in their
discipline at a university in the Arab world to heritage speakers to
students who have the minimum on-campus preparation. Computer-
based delivery of a rich web of content/context surrounding the
carefully annotated main corpus of songs allows for engagement by
less proficient students and guided exploration of cultural context on
the part of more proficient readers-listeners who have spent significant
time abroad. All can then come together in a single meaningful
conversation in class.

If you might be interested in participating in the pilot and would like to
review materials, please contact me off-list at

With best regards,
Rajaa Aquil

Rajaa Aquil, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Arabic, &
Director of Arabic LBAT
School of Modern Languages
Georgia Institute of Technology
613 Cherry Street
Swann Building #317
Atlanta, GA 30332
Phone: 4043857252
Fax: 4048940955

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