Knowing English, learning Arabic
by Muhammad Yusuf:
Nazurullah Khan, Director, Khan Soft, Malaysia, an Arabic e-learning software company, is enthusiasm personified, as far as learning the Arabic language is concerned. On a short visit to the UAE, he said that with the software he has developed called the ‘Globalisation of Arabic Learning through English’, “a KG student or a PG scholar can learn Arabic easily, without a teacher by the side”.
The learning process is “simple, spontaneous and scientific”, he said. But was his software created in high, classical Arabic? Would people familiar with only conversational Arabic find it difficult?
“My Arabic (embedded in the software) is Quranic Arabic”, he said during an interview. “It is perfect Arabic and a person who knows Quranic Arabic can speak colloquial Arabic easily”. Taking the point further, he said that people who learn or know grammatical English, can also learn ‘Khan Soft’ Arabic without difficulty.
He notes another advantage. “Today’s classrooms”, he said, “proceed as per the year-by-year syllabus – 1, 2, 3, 4 grades – and so on. Students find difficulty in understanding the language taught to them in short periods. But my software does not have a year-by-year syllabus; it can be taught in one year, KG or PG”.
He counted other values the software has: it is a complement to existing syllabi; utilising it will help students under stand Arabic lessons better as they progress from Grade I to university; it can be used in universities; it is not just bilingual but trilingual also since by using it, anyone can learn Arabic through English or through their mother tongue (provision has been made for this); its unique format takes in aspects of grammar, theory and the spoken word (an audio teaches you pronunciation); it is one umbrella for all needs and no reference is required since post lessons, all you need is a dictionary or google help; it allows one to go directly to the Quran; it can be sued in libraries, hotels, kiosks that promote Arabic and with a basic number of 150 words from the software, one can make 100,000 grammar word blocks.
“The whole learning methodology”, he said, “especially in the beginning stages, gives priority to the sounds, the rhythm, the cadence of Arabic. No paper, no pen, no pad learning/teaching methodology is incorporated. Independent learning techniques are used so that any learner can learn Arabic at one’s own convenient speed”.
Khan, for sure, would have gone on and on, if not for the lack of time. He cannot be blamed: he has spent 15 – 16 hours a day for the past 17 years to develop the software. “It also took 20 years of pre-research work”, he added.
He wants to popularise the software in the whole world. He leaves out nothing. “Kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools, religious schools, colleges and universities, public and private libraries, foundations, madrasahs, and mosques, government agencies, every Muslim home, should avail of this software”, he said. Well-known institutions in India have adopted it. For example, Jamal Mohamed College, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu State, India, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Khan Soft. It aims to promote academic interest between the college and the company and also to provide training to staff members of the college in Arabic learning.
“My aim is to make Arabic a universal language by making the learning and teaching of Arabic so popular that the maximum number of people across the globe, with the minimum effort, may be able to learn Arabic in the shortest possible time, in the most modern way”, he said. Since English has acquired the status of a global language, one’s knowledge of English can be leveraged to help one learn Arabic anywhere in the world.
He said that there are many types of software in the market which promise the world – and beyond – to people. There is no dearth of proposed projects like ‘Learn Arabic through English’, ‘Learn Arabic in 30 Days’, ‘Short Course in Arabic’, etc. “But they are meant for commercial purposes”, Khan said.
“Arabic is the language of the Quran, read by Muslims throughout the world”, Khan said. “There is a high demand and low supply of Arabic-speakers in the Western world. Arabic-speaking nations are a fast growing market for trade.
“Those who study Arabic and understand the language and culture can do business effectively and also be able to find careers in the Arabic world. Arabic is an official language of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, and the African Union. It is also one of the US government’s languages of strategic importance”.
His first “test kids” regarding the software were four 12-year-old non-Muslim Malaysians, two boys and two girls. “They learnt the full course from me in a month!” said Khan.
He has been demonstrating the software globally to actual users, namely, students and teachers, across many countries, including Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Singapore and the UAE. “The feed-back has always been positive”, said Khan.
Let’s say ‘ahlan wa sahlan’ to that.