Perhaps the biggest change was switching to a WordPress site (which I then liked so much I switched this site and my dance site as well!). This has made editing and collaborating on the site much easier, a bonus since members of our research team were working on it as well.
Over the summer, we analyzed all of the texts on the site, deciding based on two years of experience teaching with them if they should be kept, updated, or replaced. This Fall, we focused on updating the three units we use in first semester Arabic, as this was the focus of our research project. These are the Introductions, Personal Relationships, and Food Units.
In previous versions of the site (and as you can still see in the units that haven’t been updated) we used a google doc for vocabulary. This was necessary for the host we were using, but fairly cumbersome, especially for including audio–we linked to a separate audio file, but found students rarely clicked through to it. Now, we have the ability to add audio right beneath the word, which has been very helpful!
Also in line with a multidialectal approach, we’ve added more targeted questions about variation in the texts students encounter. We point these out and discuss them in class as well, noting that we don’t expect students to be able to produce every possible variety, but to become more adept at recognizing them, or just become more comfortable experiencing the variation they will encounter as Arabic speakers. This has definitely led to some interesting class discussions!
Throughout the Spring and next academic year, we hope to continue to update the rest of our units, and make smaller tweaks like increasing the font size on the vocabulary pages. If you use the site and have recommendations, let me know! We’re always adjusting based on student feedback and our experience.