In summer 2014, the CLS Arabic immersion program will offer courses in first-, second-, third-, and fourth-year Modern Standard Arabic. Arabic was one of the first languages offered in our program in 1983; however, it was dropped in the late 1980s due to low enrollments. We revived the Arabic program in summer 2002 in the aftermath of 9/11 by offering a small course in first-year Arabic. Since that time, Arabic has grown into one of our strongest programs, with two sections of first-year Arabic and one section of second-year Arabic offered in summers 2007 and 2008. The STARTALK grant awarded in those same summers has not only supported high school students to learn Arabic, but has also provided additional funding to enrich the cultural aspects of the program. If you doubt the ability of a high school student to perform well in a college-level, fast-paced course, then please take the time to read Rachel Friedman’s story.
While a wide range of students have participated in the Arabic program—high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, professionals, and retirees—a strong desire to learn Arabic and a commitment to help each other achieve this goal have persisted in the Arabic program over the past seven years. Students play an active role in the language tables, study together in groups, and highlight their artistic or culinary talents during the evening of international poetry and song or the international dinner. None of these goals—high-level, fast-paced language acquisition and cultural enrichment —would be possible, however, without the fine instructors of Arabic whom we have had over the years. Students consider their instructors’ talent and creativity, willingness to help students, and dedication to the teaching of Arabic language and culture to be some of the greatest qualities of our program.
Rachel Friedman began her study of Arabic at CLS in summer 2005. Three years later, she returned as a TA to teach the same class in which she had studied. We present two perspectives of our program from her, one as a student and another as a teacher (click on either to read the complete text):