The need for Arabic studies

Apr 042005
Authors: Chris Tarver

Colin Mielnick has put forth the extra effort to achieve a high level of comprehension in CSU's Arabic program.

Mielnick, a sophomore finance major, has taken advantage of the Arabic program while it is available. Mielnick, a student in Dr. Mohammed Hirchi's fourth semester Arabic class, is quite advanced for someone who is in his or her fourth semester of studying Arabic, Hirchi said.

While most students at this stage can carry on a conversation and understand the language, Mielnick speaks and understands the language thoroughly and can write in the Arabic as well, Hirchi said.

"I didn't really start putting in the extra work until a little ways in the course. That's where I started taking off with it" Mielnick said. "I don't personally think I'm that much better at it. I just have a stronger motivation to learn it."

Though Mielnick is quite advanced in Arabic, he considers it his fun class in contrast to the strenuous workload of the College of Business. Most of the resources Mielnick uses come from outside sources such as Al-Jazeera and the Arabic outlet of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Mielnick said he was able to achieve a higher level of fluency in Arabic because of his outside work. He said students need additional resources to make them more comfortable with the language, although it may not be as practical for some students. He feels that steady funding will provide students with resources they need to succeed outside of class.

Hirchi agreed the outside resources are important to learning the language.

"Arabic is definitely a learnable language." Hirchi said. "I think it just takes determination and effort."

Mielnick said the more he learned Arabic, the more interested he became in the subject matter. Although Mielnick is proficient at speaking Arabic, he does not know what he is going to do with it. One day, he would love to travel to an Arabic country to see what it is like.

Hirchi and Mielnick helped start an Arabic club last year as an outlet for students with an interest in Arabic. Hirchi said the program is still in its initial stages, but hopefully through the program they can recruit students and generate more interest about the Arabic language.

Recently, the program was promised three more years of funding from the Office of the Provost. Hirchi hopes that after the three-year funding period ends, the school will have enough funds to offer Arabic as a major of study.

Sara Saz, foreign language department chair, said that adding Arabic to the list of foreign language majors might be possible in the future. Saz added that the university must protect programs already in existence and secure the proper funding for the Arabic program.

"It's a language we need to be offering." Saz said. "But what it comes down to is student interest and the availability of funds."

The program was brought to CSU because of interest from Saz, Hirchi and the former director of the International Programs, Jerry Booker Weiner, who helped provide initial funds for the program. In the beginning, the Arabic program was started as an experiment. However, due to student interest and popularity, the program was added to the curriculum.

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