Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Case Studies - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

The Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel was established in 1994, focusing on the study and research of the Middle East in interdisciplinary methodologies. The Department offers its students a wide-ranging encounter with the region, emphasizing its history and its culture, from the rise of Islam in the Seventh century A.D. to our times. The purpose of the study is to offer the student basic and advanced tools for research of history, society and culture. These methodologies are applied to the study of the region.

Challenge

In the last few years, the Middle Eastern Studies Department at Ben-Gurion University has been searching for a solution to improve their Arabic language curriculum. Faculty and students were interested in a program that could help improve their pronunciation and build vocabulary from first to third year Arabic language students. To meet their objectives, the system needed to:

  • Meet the needs of beginners to advanced learners through customization.
  • Offer the ability to create and record vocabulary lists specific to class textbook and lesson plans.
  • Offer a voice recording and comparison capability to improve pronunciation and build vocabulary.

Solution

The professors' decision to purchase Byki was based on a successful trial during the spring 2009 semester. To begin their pilot program, Transparent Language's Byki Deluxe software was installed for use on the language professors and teaching assistants' computers. They used Byki's vocabulary list creation tool to record the voices of several native Arabic speaking students, and then distributed these lists out to the their classes. "There was quite an enthusiasm, so we decided to make it something regular that we're going to use in the following academic year."

In the Fall semester of 2009, students from the Arabic classes would use Byki to help their pronunciation accuracy, and promote superior recall of the learned vocabulary. First-year students would use Byki intensively, while second and third year students would be encouraged to begin making their own vocabulary lists using the Byki list authoring tool.

Results

While, the first students who used the program were very enthusiastic about it, the Middle Eastern Studies Department expects to review how Byki influences their students' overall learning during a whole academic year.

"I think we should make all the effort to help them (students) do this. It gives us the opportunity to let them hear the new vocabulary again and again and again."