#TELLALTravels: Arabising in San Francisco
11/27/2019 12:00:00 AM

#TELLALTravels: Arabising in San Francisco

Avid readers of TELLAL Talks will know how much of our work, and our articles, are based around the pursuit of best practice initiatives and innovative methodologies to improve learning, not just for the students of TELLAL, but the students they teach. Our work here in the UAE and during our #TELLALTravels series is very much based on collaboration and making connections that will enhance and grow our knowledge and experience so that we can adapt our courses and training to improve standards of education across the board.

One of the pioneering projects that we have utilised at TELLAL, and which has proven incredibly successful in student retention and performance, is our virtual simulation technology. We particularly discussed its benefits in terms of elevating leadership performance in a previous article you can catch up on here. Even though this technology is part of the advanced level of training offered at TELLAL, we are never ones to rest on our laurels when improvements can be made. That is why our Senior Manager of Digital Professional Learning and Development Sheryl Rogers recently made the trip to San Francisco to see how we could further enhance the virtual simulation training; by adding some Arabised Avatars.

Why is Arabisation important?

Being centred in such a diverse and multi-cultural country, means that TELLAL is responsible for the professional development and training of an extremely varied range of teachers, from all walks of life and backgrounds. Many training institutions, not just those in the educational sector, find themselves using technology and resource materials that have been generated for a far less diverse audience. Studies show that when individuals can recognise their own experiences, environments or personality in subject matters, they are more likely to engage with it. Since retention and understanding are the cornerstones of successful training, it is vital that participants can relate to the materials they are interacting with. At TELLAL we need to make sure that the language, landscape and characters are more reflective of our trainee demographics, so that we can remove the cognitive dissonance experienced by participants who can’t connect with the screen in front of them. This is even more true as we travel further afield around the Middle East to engage even more trainees with this ground-breaking technology.

What is involved in Arabising Avatars?

The success we have had so far with our virtual simulation is a testament to the overall learning methodology, but for us to sustain and increase this, we wanted to ensure that all of our trainees felt represented and had a relatable figure to ensure they could get the best out of their sessions. But ‘arabising’ avatars isn’t just about changing the language they speak in, it needs to create authentic archetypes, not stereotypes, so full characters need to be created; ones that are familiar, believable and culturally appropriate.

Developing the visual, vocal and character profiles that would accurately reflect the diversity of the Gulf region allows teachers to engage in simulations where they and the avatars both speak in Arabic as well as in environments they recognised and can relate to. These exclusive additions would also allow us to swap avatars in and out, so that we can have gender specific classes, which many education sectors in countries like Saudi Arabia would like as an option.   Having this level of flexibility allows us to totally customise the simulation experience. In this way, cognitive challenges can be engaged with in their mother tongue and avoids the potential pitfalls of operating in a foreign language, context or environment.   It isn’t just the avatars that we are updating either, the environment in which they exist needs to reflect ours as well. For an Indian-born teacher training in Dubai, the sight of a British red telephone box outside the window could be off putting and certainly wouldn’t be as relatable as a UAE palm tree or bustling Mumbai traffic.

Having the opportunity to travel to San Francisco to work with the developers of the virtual simulation technology not only gave TELLAL the chance to adapt their resources for their trainees and courses, they were able to contribute to a much wider adoption of globalised practises for the future; just the kind of collaborative effort we love to be a part of!

Have you ever done virtual simulation training? Do you think it is more helpful to have resources that reflect who you are when it comes to learning? Does enough Arabisation go on within the educational community? Let us know what you think and join the conversation via one of our social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

If you would like to learn more about how our virtual simulation training works or would like to enquire about one of our courses, do get in touch via phone on +971 (0)4 403 5146 or email [email protected]


Sheryl Lee Rogers

Senior Manager – Digital Professional Learning & Development

Sheryl is responsible for the design, development and deployment of digital

resources and environments that are at the heart of TELLAL’s methodologies.



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