Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Now offered online ARABIC AND CHINESE

New foreign language classes at Rio Salado College will have you speaking some of the most spoken languages in the world from the comfort of your home.
Rio Salado has expanded its foreign languages courses to include Chinese and Arabic, two languages included in President Bush’s National Security Language Initiative launched in January of 2006. The plan is designed to strengthen national security and prosperity in the 21st century through education and the development of foreign language skills.
Online language courses are now available through Rio in not only the newly launched Arabic and Chinese; but also Japanese, French, German and Spanish.
Rio Salado College student Harminder Aujla hopes to someday do his part in strengthening national security. A United States Air Force Staff Sargent, Aujla is studying Arabic; his goal is to work as a linguist on national security issues.
He enjoys his online Arabic class and plans to continue in the program until he is fluent.
“It’s not hard. I think it is pretty easy,” said Aujla of his study of the third most spoken language in the world. Chinese is first, English second and Arabic third.
Like most of Rio Salado’s foreign language classes, the Arabic course uses state-of-the art voice recognition technology called Auralog which allows students to work at their own pace as they perfect pronunciation, learn vocabulary and improve sentence structure.
The voice recognition software really makes a difference in learning a language online, said Aujla.
Aujla’s instructor Sarah Risha, a native of Kuwait, says her online students do as well or better than as her in-person students. She initially was afraid students would not learn to speak correctly, but she’s been surprised at how well the interactive voice recognition program does at teaching foreign language skills.
“They do just as well as students in a classroom. They get it and they can do it,” said Risha.
“They also don’t have to drive to a campus but can take the class at their convenience. They can do it in the middle of the night, in the morning, whenever they have time to do it,” said Risha.
Although there are currently 28 students studying Arabic, Angela Felix, Rio Salado’s foreign language faculty chair, believes enrollment would soar if students were aware of the additional foreign languages classes Rio offers.
“People know they can come to Rio for Spanish classes, but most don’t know they can get all these other languages,” said Felix.
The online classes start every Monday and never close or cancel due to low enrollment like other colleges.
Many students from surrounding colleges and universities take their required language class at Rio, preferring the convenience of online learning and community college affordability.
With the online schedule, students can complete the class in the traditional 14 weeks, accelerate, or even complete the course at their own pace.
Students benefit from the highly interactive software, the 24/7 helpdesk support from instructors and immediate feedback from the voice recognition program.
Students hesitant about practicing difficult new words in front of a class like the ability to perfect pronunciation in front of a computer. The remarkable software tracks the students voice, graphing what sounds are correct and those incorrect. Diagrams help students position their mouth for perfect speech.
With the interactive voice recognition software students aren’t required to purchase textbooks. The Auralog software provides all the material students need to become proficient in speaking another language, said Felix. Auralog cost just $70 compared to textbooks that run at double Auralog’s price or more. The state-of-the-art software is the same that can be purchased for about $400 by the general public.
“Our students are really excited about this. They love the cutting-edge technology over having to buy expensive textbooks, but really appreciate having a knowledgeable faculty member available for guidance and help,” said Felix.
Rio Salado College, located in Tempe, AZ, has 450 online classes which start every Monday. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information please call 480-517-8255 or go to http://www.riosalado.edu/.