After years of absence, Arabic classes will once again be making a comeback in the academic year of 2016-2017 as one of the newest additions to the Modern Languages and Culture Department programs. The Arabic program was previously cut due to the low demand and lack of available funding to keep it going. Now with the opportunity ripe once again, the program will be expected to make its debut at Seattle University next fall quarter.
Despite limited information about the program itself, Chair of the Modern Languages and Culture Department Victor Reinking gave some insight to what the course could entail, and what students should expect from it.
“The first year will be parallel to other languages’ programs,” Reinking said. “Hopefully we will have a cohort for the second year and the following year and perhaps be able to add a capstone course to top off the minor, but by that time we hope to offer a study abroad possibly in Morocco.”
Reinking explained that it was the department’s long term goal to eventually offer a minor in Arabic if it turns out to be successful within the three year trial that the administration has granted it. It wasn’t solely the Department of Modern Languages’ decision to bring Arabic within the language department, but was also brought back due to high demand from both students and administration at Seattle U.
“It is the most requested language by students and is frequently mentioned by prospective students,” Reinking said. “It’s rare to find a program in Arabic in this area.”
Emphasizing that the program would target more than just students interested in linguistics, Reinking commented that it was also people such as the Director of International Studies, Robert Andolina, who specifically asked him if the department was planning on making Arabic an offered course. Reinking found that Andolina often heard his international students wishing that they would be given that option.
With the new program underway, professor Amina Moujtahid, a current French professor, has taken the opportunity to pilot the program. Having taught Arabic for the past 16 years at the Seattle Language Academy and Everett Community College, Moujtahid feels confident in teaching the course, and optimistic in its ability to take off.
“It’s kind of my passion to teach languages,” Moujtahid said. “It would be a great experience to share this language with students as well as the culture and historical aspects of the language. When the language is spoken, we can get people looking a bit closer to each other.”
Moujtahid hopes that despite the difficulty level associated with Arabic, the program will teach the language in an accessible way.
“In the beginning it will look very different, but after the second week everybody will be comfortable. Once we learn the alphabet, and start to connect the lessons to each other, people will be able to read words, and they will enjoy it,” Moujtahid said.
Sophomore International Studies major Marthadina Russell is among the students that have expressed interest in the program. She anticipates registering for the course next fall.
“I really love languages; I think Arabic is both a beautiful and complex language, so I love the idea of learning how to speak it,” Russell said. “I also think that based on what my job will be in the future it will come in handy to know Arabic. I wanted to take Arabic from the start but they didn’t offer it before so I’m really excited that it’s back.”
Russell, hoping to be a foreign service officer, sees the Arabic program as an opportunity to jumpstart her career, and spend her time learning material that will benefit her overall goals in the long run.
“I’m assuming people who are looking to take Arabic are probably interested in traveling or working in that region and are interested in the culture surrounding countries that have Arabic as their primary language,” Russell said.
With registration quickly approaching, Moujtahid is optimistic.
“We’re going to have a very good year of studying the language. It’s going to be for sure successful, I am positive about it. It’s going to work.”
Shelby may be reached at [email protected]