Arabic language gains popularity

Nancy Preteau

Nancy Preteau

Students seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree are required to take a foreign language. The majority of students take Spanish, German or French, fairly common languages. However, SDSU offers quite a variety of languages, including Arabic.

“Arabic is in high demand in different careers lately, especially in the security and commerce fields,” said Maria Ramos, head of the modern languages department.

SDSU offers Arabic classes at the beginning and intermediate levels along with a course focusing on the Arabic culture.

Instructor Brahim Garaoui uses a wide variety of sources for teaching the classes. Along with two textbooks, one focusing on language the other on both language and culture, Garaoui uses the Internet for inspiration.

Guest speakers are also brought in who reflect the Muslim and Arabic cultures. Students also learn about the religions of Arabic-speaking countries such as Iraq and Palestine.

“It is important that students learn about other cultures,” Garaoui said. “With 280 million Arabic people in the world, there is a common misconception about them, especially about religion. It (Muslim) is not a religion of terrorism and students will learn this.”

Melissa Lefers, a 21-year-old enrolled in the beginning Arabic class, enjoys the class for a multitude of reasons.

She enjoys the small class size, which helps her feel comfortable enough to ask questions.

“The class is a little tougher,” says Lefers, “When you look at Spanish and French words, you can sort of tie some of the words together with English words. It is quite different with Arabic, making it a little harder.”

When she went to Egypt to visit her husband who was studying there for a semester, Lefers got to experience a little bit of the Arabic culture.

“I would like to move overseas in the future,” Lefers said. “I felt Arabic would benefit me. When I spend time overseas, I would like to be able to interact with those who are from the country.”

The Arabic curriculum is in its seventh year at SDSU. The program began as a distance education course taught by an instructor at the University of Montana.

The program was popular, so SDSU hired Garaoui to teach the on-site Arabic class three years ago. In that time, it has continued to gain in popularity with the students.