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March 5, 2013

QCRI’s Arabic Language Tech Team Rolls Out App


Six undergraduate students have put their research skills and technical knowledge to the test as part of the ’Hot Summer, Cool Research‘ internship program at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI).

The students, who are enrolled at Qatar University and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, were presented with the challenge of developing a viable computer assisted language learning (CALL) iPad application, working with QCRI’s Arabic Language Technologies team.

The students presented their final product to QCRI’s management team and scientists, university faculty, and other stakeholders involved in Arabic language technologies efforts in Qatar.

“We designed our summer internship program to involve the students and get them interested in developing a solution to a real challenge faced today by society, and one as important as Arabic language,” said Dr Stephan Vogel, Principal Scientist of Arabic Language Technologies at QCRI.

The goal for the students’ research project was to develop an e-learning application for the Arabic language using speech and pattern recognition. The students were required to make the application intuitive, interactive and intelligent, by gauging and adapting the exercise modules according to the user to maximize learning.

To achieve this they analyzed existing CALL and e-learning apps to identify weaknesses and strengths, read papers on optical character recognition and speech recognition, and designed and implemented various training modules to support learners of elementary Arabic in practicing their language skills through listening, reading, speaking, and writing.

The result was a product they named ‘Arabia.’