Mohammed Jiyad specializes in teaching Arabic language, literature, and culture. Since 1990, he has demonstrated his software and discussed his textbooks, “al-Jaleys” series at international conferences. In 2010, all three parts of al-Jaleys: a Proficiency Book for Teaching and Learning Arabic Language and Culture were published by Lambert Academic Publishing.
Jiyad is the developer of the software “Arabic Gemini” for advanced reading. Focusing on reading comprehension, it is based on information processing theory and foreign language schema theory. The program provides prompts to guide learners to generate plausible hypotheses about the events described in the text. It presents multimedia displays (text, graphics, sound, and video) to provide information about the various aspects in the text. The Gemini prototype was used to develop Hebrew, German, Russian, and French, along with Arabic; the project was funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Jiyad also has been involved in collaborative literary analysis with Professor Mishael Caspi, a distinguished scholar from Israel, currently at Bates College. Their first book, Eve in Three Traditions and Literatures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, examines the exchange of ideas between early Islam and Judaism. It was published by Mellen in March 2004. Jiyad and Caspi's second collaborative book, The Legend of Elijah in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Literature: A Study in Comparative Literature,” was published by Klaus Schwarz Verlag-Berlin in 2006.
In summer 2002, Jiyad was chosen as one of 15 faculty members from 81 liberal arts colleges to attend a seminar held by the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE). This seminar led to the creation of Jiyad's literature course on Arab women. He designed the course to give a well-rounded picture of the problems still confronting women in the Arab world today and of efforts being made to achieve a fuller, more equal participation in all aspects of life. The Arab women novelists' works seminar addresses issues such as arranged marriage, divorce, child rearing and custody, rights and opportunities to work. Political and social freedoms and national and religious identity will be thoroughly surveyed and discussed, as well. The aim is to offer an alternative view in a balanced, free and fair approach in order to dispel current media bias and the Muslim-bashing propaganda, samples of which were in evidence during the recent presidential elections.
Currently, Jiyad is working on the “The Status of Women in Arabic Literature,” a manuscript written in the 14th century by Ali Ibn Omar al-Batnuny. This is a significant work because it shows how the first “intellectual” group that surrounded the Prophet Mohammed put the first interpretations of the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet himself. The group, which was comprised of a number of converts, made the first attempt to use literature, in this case religious, to write history.
Lack of quality materials has been one of the major historic impediments facing language educators mainly because publishers have concentrated on the larger, more commonly taught language markets. Since 2004 Jiyad has developed a number of media-based programs which he posted on his web site. These programs target students at various level of proficiency. Probably the greatest beneficiaries of these programs are those students who have returned from the Middle East following a semester or, in most cases, a year of total immersion linguistic experience. Jiyad plans to continue his work in this arena to develop new materials. The list of the programs posted since 2004 includes:
- Arab Women's Voices (Intermediate)
- Fire Prevention (Intermediate)
- From Different Directions (Advanced)
- Arab Children's Stories (Advanced)
- Bloggers (Advanced)
- A Student's Guide to the Arab World (Advanced)
- Arab People's Medicine (Advanced Plus)
This project--as well as Jiyad's “101 Arabic Grammar Book” and the revised edition of his textbook, “al-Jaleys, P.1 & 2”--has received very positive responses from various instructors and institutions in the United States, Great Britain, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey. His grammar book continues to be a top item searched on Google.
In addition to his work on language acquisition and technological advancements in pedagogy, Jiyad has a personal passion for current events in the Middle East. He continues to appear in national and local media to address the situation in Iraq.
- "Language in Its Cultural Context," Office of Communications, November 12, 2010
- "Iraqis Here Are Jubilant; Saddam's Capture 'Wonderful,' " Daily Hampshire Gazette article featuring Mohammed Jiyad
- "Education under Attack: Mass Kidnapping in Iraq Hits Home for MHC Professor," Office of Communications, November 17, 2006