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Teaching Arabic… with LEGO?

Colorful image of the words "let's play" in the Arabic script, formed by LEGO building blogs
Image by Ghada Wali, TEDGlobal 2017

At the TEDGlobal 2017 talk in Arusha, Tanzania, graphic designer Ghada Wali talked about her project to help teach the Arabic language and, in turn, keep the Arabic script alive. “I believe that graphic design can change the world,” she says, and details her goal to create a bilingual educational solution to “stop the world from seeing us as evil, as terrorists of this planet, and start perceiving us as equals, fellow humans.”

 

“The idea,” she says, “is to simply create a fun and engaging way of learning Modern Standard Arabic through LEGO.”

The project entailed taking images of each letter of the Arabic alphabet as formed by LEGOs, and in the book she shows how the building blocks connect seamlessly on the page to form words. She took photographs of each of the letters in each of the four stages of Arabic: initial, medial, isolated, and final. Her website further explains that, in the book, “each letter is explain through sound, form & words in function, with the equivalent in Latin.” Each letter is a different color to help distinguish between the Arabic letters in the Arabic script, and to help the learner identify its equivalent in the Latin script.

Image of LEGO blocks forming Arabic script, with text in the upper left corner describing the Let's Play project
Ghada Wali, Let's Play

 

She sees this project as not just an educational opportunity, but a chance to change the world’s perspective of Arabic and the Arabic language: “One set of building blocks made two languages. LEGO is just a metaphor. It's because we are all made of the same building unit, is that I can see a future where the barriers between people all come tumbling down.”

Image of Let's Play book, with pages of Arabic script formed by LEGO blocks
Ghada Wali, Let's Play

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