Associate Professor Hakeem Kasem will present a keynote address entitled 'Global Language Engagement Through Virtual Worlds: Enriching Arabic learners’ proficiency and cultural understanding' at the Three Languages - Three Cultures: Narratives from the Middle East Conference on 22 & 23 November 2018.
Global language and cultural communicative competency is an ever increasing requirement in our connected world. One of the main challenges Second Language learners face when learning another language (L2) in an academic setting in countries where that language is not actively used – so little L2 exposure – is that it is harder to provide authentic and meaningful contexts for learning. This restriction in L2 exposure in the formal academic framework is due to the limited face-to-face learning time and, more significantly, is compounded by lack of exposure to the language’s authentic use settings. Students are often isolated from the target language’s authentic discourse communities and native speakers. This situation is exacerbated for learners of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) who have no or very little exposure to MSA outside the classroom boundaries. All of these factors make developing communicative oral fluency in MSA more difficult and challenging for many learners.
With the evolution and maturity of immersive 3D virtual worlds, their value for engaged, multiuser, experiential language learning is exciting. This project aims to increase the Arabic language proficiency and cultural understanding of Australian university students by developing a globally shareable and sustainable 3D immersive real-time educational virtual world environment that is flexible, accessible and target today’s global learners. All the affordances of 3-D virtual worlds will be utilized to serve as a cultural context to engage learners via scaffolded and exploratory activities and connect them with native speakers of Arabic across the Middle East.
Associate Professor Hakeem Kasem, is the Convenor of the Arabic Language and Culture Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University. Hakeem’s teaching has received plaudits both at Deakin, and also via national prizes and international commendations. His work – especially in the development of a world first-class comprehensive Arabic online resources in 2004 – is widely known in the Arabic teaching community at a national and international level.