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Mobile application teaches Arabic

Keefak featured on the Brazil-Arab News Agency website on November 5, 2012.

Created by Hadi El-Khoury, from Lebanon, software ‘Keefak’ offers Lebanese popular Arabic lessons using the Android and iOS systems. Classes are available in English, French and even Portuguese.

Aurea Santos*
aurea.santos@anba.com.br

São Paulo – For the families who leave their home countries and head overseas, keeping their mother tongue alive among their offspring is not always an easy task. Thinking of these people, the Lebanese Hadi El-Khoury created the smartphone application Keefak, which teaches lessons on the variety of Arabic language spoken in Lebanon.

“I came up with the idea in 2009, when my daughter was born and I thought of the many families that had problems passing their native language on to their children,” says Khoury. The holder of a degree in Information Security Engineering, he was born in Beirut, but is based in Paris, France, since 2000.

With the project in mind, he only started developing the application after meeting Antoine Fleyfel, an Arabic teacher who helped devise the lessons. Khoury also had help from two other people, his brother Joseph, in charge of development for iOS (the Iphone’s operating system), and Rawad Rahme, who worked on compatibility with Android (Google’s operating system).

The course is taught based on the transliteration of Arabic into Latin characters. Upon its launch, in January this year, Keefak, which means « How do you do? » in Arabic, offered English- and French-based lessons. In September, a Portuguese version was released.

“We have translated it into Brazilian Portuguese, and we have plans to translate it into Spanish,” says Khoury. According to him, the Portuguese lessons were translated by a trilingual French student.

When asked what he knows about Arabs in Brazil, he replies: “I know it’s the largest Lebanese community [outside of Lebanon] and that it comprises 8 to 10 million people. The electing of [São Paulo] mayor Fernando Haddad is an example of how strong the community is.”

To him, Keefak can be very useful to Arab descendants living in Brazil. “Language opens doors. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with Lebanon. With Keefak, people can understand the language and learn about its origins. That is important to culture and to business, to help promote business ties between Lebanon and Brazil,” he says.

Presently, the application includes 20 lessons, divided into “Vocabulary,” “Conversation,” “Grammar,” and “Exercises.” For now, the lessons are not categorized in levels, such as basic, intermediate and advanced, but Khoury says there is user demand on that sense, and he expects to develop the feature by January.

Keefak costs US$ 4.99 to download and is available from App Store and Google Play. The lessons are downloaded in the three available languages. According to Khoury, the Spanish version should be released in December, and a German version is also pending development. He says five new lessons are added to the application each month.

Khoury created a Facebook page to promote the software.

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