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Preliminary Review of Elementary Arabic II

Posted by Emma Handte (she/her/hers) on

“Elementary Arabic II” by Ayman Mohamed and Sadam Issa is licensed under CC BY 4.0

The license CC BY 4.0 means that “Elementary Arabic II” is an openly licensed educational resource that users may retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute so long as they properly attribute the authors. One way to properly attribute the authors is to use the Open Washington Attribution Builder. One slight complication is that when you download the PDF of “Elementary Arabic II,” the front matter includes a copyright statement. However, since this book was originally published in Pressbooks and includes a CC BY 4.0 license elsewhere, on the balance of the evidence, it seems like it is in fact an OER. Just to make sure, I sent an email to the authors. This is the type of sleuthing that OER users may need to do to verify that resources are in fact open.

At this stage, once participants in the 2022 OER Seminar have verified that their materials are in fact OER, they are asked to use the below rubric to evaluate it. For the preliminary review, the facilitators ask that participants focus on the sections “Quality, Reliability, Currency” and “Adaptable, Customizable, Open vs Free-to-Use.”

“Evaluation and Selection Criteria for OER” by O. Zhadko and S. Ko is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

I will first address whether the content is adaptable, customizable, and open vs. free-to-use. Because the license of “Elementary Arabic II” is CC BY 4.0, it allows for modifications with proper attributions, as discussed above. It is particularly easy to adopt a portion of the content within the Pressbooks platform by simply cloning the book and remixing sections with another book, or authoring new sections.

Next I’ll discuss “Quality, Reliability, and Currency.” Despite a few minor typos, the content is quite readable. The content addresses vocabulary topics in Arabic that are more common and accessible on a day-to-day basis to a generalizable audience than the leading proprietary Arabic textbook, Al-Kitaab fii Ta’allum al-‘Arabiyya. However, the text may alienate readers by using stereotypical depictions, particularly of women, on its cover. Despite this unfortunate visual representation, the content of the textbook provides activities in listening, reading, writing, and speaking that can be easily checked or downloaded and sent to the professor. It provides lessons in Modern Standard Arabic and the Egyptian dialect, which avoids the dilemma faced by students using al-Kitaab, namely how to decide whether to focus on Egyptian or Levantine without yet knowing the rationale for each possibility. The authors are both faculty at Michigan State University in Second Language Acquisition and Linguistics, respectively. The content is current and includes introductions to popular music and sports stars in the Arab world, which provides a lighthearted and relatable look into culture in the Arab world, in contrast to the main proprietary textbook, which focuses heavily on politics. Overall, in addition to providing a free alternative to a costly copyrighted text, Elementary Arabic II provides several improvements in content.

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