Arabic Encounters is a joint project dedicated to furthering the language learning of upper-level college students studying Arabic. This government sponsored project was developed with the University of California Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning as well as the ARCLITE Lab at Brigham Young University (BYU) and the National Middle East Language Resource Center, also located at BYU.
As defined by Arcliter Michael Black, Arabic Encounters is “a visual and linguistic paradigm shift to the Middle East. It is recorded colloquial dialogue with footage from real-life and on-site.” As video editor of the project, Black further explained his role in the process as creating something visually appealing yet linguistically accurate to tell the story of the Arabic people and places. Arabic Encounters has been a huge collaboration of students helping students in their foreign language pursuits. Project manager Mike Tew worked as head of the team, as well as helped transcribe Arabic interviews, test software, oversee project of the contractors in the Middle East, and assist in ensuring that the project was within scheduled budget and time frame.
Luda Mahfoud from Syria worked as an editor of the transcripts, so as to be as complete and accurate as possible. “Sometimes the problem is, if the student is a social worker they speak really fast versus a doctor that speaks slowly; his words would have to be cut in a different way.” According to Luda, most students are exposed to the Egyptian accent from exposure of the dialect at school. However, the goal of Arabic Encounters is to expose students to multiple accents and dialects; in accordance to the featured region. Alongside Luda Mahfoud and fellow script editor Nabil Sharaf, Najwa Zayed works onsite in Egypt whilst teaching the Arabic language. “I am aware of the importance of this work. It is very useful and I think that students will communicate more easily with it. It is very useful in the two phases of listening and reading. “ Najwa not only suggested having the listening capability be available to students, but also offered to read the words from the text for listening purposes.
In addition to Najwa’s comment, Mike Tew closed in saying, “I think that students will be able to get an idea of how educated Arabs really do speak day to day and how they transition from formal Arabic to their specific regional colloquial dialects. It will help them be more prepared to understanding Syrian and Egyptian locals which will aid them in preparing for in country Arabic study experiences, especially in Syria and Egypt.”
Gretchen Belnap – on-site resource collector
Michael Black - video editor
Logan Kearsley – computer programmer
Josh Monson - computer programmer and video editor
Nabil Sharaf – subtitle editor
Michael Tew - project manager
Isis Zayed - subtitle editor
Emilie Zuniga – co-producer and videographer
Scott Zuniga - co-producer