Have you ever wondered what it takes to learn a new language, and experience its culture in all its authenticity? This was a question that piqued my interest, when I started out teaching Arabic in 2012. Before I go any further, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself. I am Sami Abu Heibeh, a passionate and enthusiastic Arabic teacher from Palestine. I am married to a beautiful wife, and we are blessed with two sons, Riyad and Omar.
I have always loved children, and I sometimes wondered how they can pick up languages so easily. As an Arabic teacher, this made me research further, and I found evidence backed by linguists and psychologists that children are naturally equipped to pick up languages. However, evidence also shows that adults can learn languages easily too, so long as we immerse ourselves in the respective cultures and ethos.
While children are cognitively inclined to learn new words, form meanings, and express themselves, adults need a more immersive experience!
When I started to teach Arabic in 2012, immersive technology was still in its nascent stages. Yet, it was a moment of epiphany for me, when I realized that immersive experiences can help create solid language learning tools for people of all ages. It became my life’s calling to design, develop, and promote a technology-assisted Arabic learning app to help people across the world learn this beautiful language in a naturalistic and authentic environment without even visiting the Middle East.
My dreams materialized when I started my company in April 2019. I quickly set out to develop Grow In Learning (GIL), an app that helps you learn Arabic through immersive experience, assisted by 360 realistic scenarios.
How it works
- Speak in your own voice, and GIL’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology tells you if you are right or wrong.
- Continue to the next scenario and experience being in an Arabic-speaking country and interact with the locals, all in an immersive environment
- Three levels of difficulty to help learners hone their skills
- Score at least 50% to move to the next level
- Share the app with friends and family, to earn money that can be used to pay for premium features and lessons
Where I’ve reached so far
It’s been an incredible journey, and I have been humbled by the interest and encouragement shown by people from near and far. We’ve launched new courses, and helped people across the world to kickstart their sojourn into learning Arabic. I’ve also had the joy of speaking with other language trainers and linguists, and helped them to consider automatic speech recognition technology (ASR) in their own pedagogies. In fact, I have taken it upon myself to encourage people across the world to use technology to learn foreign languages via immersive experiences. After all, the more languages we are able to speak quickly, the more rapidly will we able to build bridges across cultures.
At the moment, I keep myself busy trying to make GIL more popular so that many more people have the opportunity to learn a useful and important language such as Arabic from the comfort of their homes. I’ve been speaking to multiple industry leaders, tech-savvy entrepreneurs, and educational entities in order to push the agenda that GIL strongly believes in: languages are best learned via an immersive experience, and automatic speech recognition is key to the future of foreign language learning pedagogy.
Looking forward to a bright future
The last few years have not been without hurdles and difficulties. Yet, when I see people learn a difficult yet enriching language like Arabic quickly and easily, my heart swells with joy. It gives me hope that one day societies will no more be lost in translation, but will quickly understand each other and build valuable networks and relationships along the way. Most importantly, I look forward to a future where learning languages is no longer expensive or inaccessible. Instead, learners will be able to access lessons quickly at their convenience, at the touch of a few buttons.
For enquiries, feel free to contact me. And if you are in the vicinity, I would love to show you around my beautiful town, Ramallah!