Image: Animated photo of two people sitting in a park bench, with text bubbles of arabic phrases written in phonetic Hebrew

Arabic-Learning ‘Madrasa’ App Developed by Technion Students

Students from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science at the Technion recently developed a voice-recognition app for the “Madrasa” project to help people learn Arabic. Part of the Madrasa project—which advocates for better communication in Israeli society through spoken Arabic courses—the app includes a voice recognition feature that will allow tens of thousands of students learning Arabic in online courses to practice their pronunciation. Students Noor Hamdan, Rina Atieh, Lina Mansour and Wadad Boulos worked on developing the app. “Working with the students was very effective and helpful,” Gilad Sevitt, founder and director of Madrasa, said. “They came on board and contributed greatly to our project, and we enjoyed working together on both the linguistic and technological levels. . . . With the help of Technion students, we were able to develop a voice recognition component that will finally allow tens of thousands of students in our online courses to practice their pronunciation in Arabic and speak while learning,” Sevitt said.  Complete Article HERE

Image: hand holding an open Quran

Egyptian Parliament Reopens Debate on Quran’s Place in the Curriculum

When the Egyptian Parliament recently considered a bill intended to support the use of Standard Arabic, the discussion grew heated between a a representative of Al-Azhar and a parliamentarian who objected to provisions about Quran memorization in primary school. Modern Standard Arabic is the formal dialect of the wider Arabic language, which there are now many dialects across the Arab world. On Nov. 30, the Egyptian Parliament discussed a bill containing measures to support of the arguably archaic literary dialect that included a language exam for applicants for government jobs, obligating shops to post their names in Standard Arabic and forcing advertisements and television programs to broadcast their content in Standard Arabic. The bill includes penalties of up to a year in imprison and fines of up to 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,175). In the session, a representative of Al-Azhar suggested students be required to memorize more Quranic verses, but parliamentarian Youssef Al-Husseini objected to provisions in the bill that retain Quran memorization in primary school. “There are non-Muslim students like Copts who should not be forced to memorize the Quran,” argued Husseini, who is deputy chairman of parliament’s media and culture committee.  Complete Article HERE