As demand for online Arabic educational content grows, a Jordanian initiative has rolled out a cartoon series designed to help children and others learn and grow to love the Arabic language.
"Adam Wa Mishmish" targets children from birth to the age of 5, as well as anyone who wants to learn the basics of the Arabic language, founding partner Lama al-Adnani told Al-Mashareq.
Online episodes vary in length between one and three minutes, she said, "each featuring a different topic on the alphabet, numbers, shapes and musical instruments, among many others".
The protagonist is a 2-year-old boy named Adam and his constant companion Mishmish, his favorite toy who springs to life every night in Adam’s dreams.
In these dreams, Adam and Mishmish embark on adventures that stimulate them to learn new words to describe the world around them, including the alphabet, numbers and colours.
"The main objective of this cartoon programme is to plant the seed of love for the Arabic language in the hearts of children at a very young age, so this love for the language may grow with them," al-Adnani said, "especially since Arabic content online is unfortunately weak."
She and her husband began the project after they had "difficulty finding meaningful, accurate and enjoyable content for our son Adam", she said, noting that most of the available educational content was in English.
Little Arabic content for children
It is necessary to boost support for such initiatives, especially as Arabic content on the internet accounts for a small percentage of the total, said Abed Majeed, an expert and trainer in the field of entrepreneurship and technology.
"Internet use in the Arab world is increasing dramatically, and our region has one of the highest rates of internet and social media use, so it is necessary to create and produce more suitable content to meet demand," he told Al-Mashareq.
"Unfortunately, most of the content directed at children on sites like YouTube is in English, so there is a great opportunity for more entrepreneurial projects in [Arabic]," he added.
Arabic language proficiency among students is very low, said Areej Moussa, an Arabic language teacher at a private school in Amman.
"It is essential that there exist an initiative that makes children want to learn and love the Arabic language," she told Al-Mashareq.
"Such an initiative can help strengthen children’s [skills] in the Arabic language and thus give them a sound foundation," she said.
Moussa said it is necessary to develop fun educational materials for teaching Arabic, noting that teaching children the language through the use of cartoon programmes is very important as it relates to the way children think.