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Nov. 17, 2014

Modern Languages secures grant for Arabic major

By Kevin Alquist

Cleveland State University will expand its Arabic program, which currently offers a minor, to an undergraduate major and a certificate program in Arabic translation beginning in the fall of 2016.

The opportunity came from a $180,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language program and will provide students with more course options for Spring, Summer and Fall semesters and more opportunities to study abroad.

The curriculum will cover more than just the Arabic language, but also the culture, history, linguistics and, most importantly, translation.

“One of the reasons we got this grant is because we included translation in this program,” Abed el-Rahman Tayyara, Associate Professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and Coordinator of the Arabic Program at Cleveland State, said.

With Cleveland’s large Arab population of around 80,000 people and Cleveland State’s 700-plus study abroad students from Arab countries, Tayyara stressed the importance of connecting the university with the community and the growing global demand for professionals with fluency in the Arabic language.

“We would like to make a connection between the Cleveland State community, the Arab community and also the general community of Cleveland,” Tayyara said.

With a large number of international students coming to Cleveland State because of its connections with the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, the ability to translate medical terms in Arabic will put them at a distinct advantage.

While knowledge of a second language and international culture can be beneficial in any line of work, Tayyara said that business, medical and communication students will be particularly boosted by the program.

There are about 25 students currently enrolled in the Arabic minor, but Tayyara expects interest to grow once the major is established. He said he expects 30-35 students to enroll in the major during its inaugural semester.

Hazem Jadallah, vice president of Cleveland State Student Government Association and an Arabic minor, believes the expansion of the program will be very beneficial to students looking to pursue an education in the language and culture. While he is confident in his career marketability because of what he has learned from the minor, he says pursuing Arabic as a major will only further students’ edge when entering the workforce.

“There is only so much that can be covered when a program is limited to a minor — a major will really give the opportunity for student to develop a stronger grasp of the material,” Jadallah said.

Though Jadallah will graduate in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and will not be able to take advantage of the Arabic major, he is happy to see growing interest in the subject.
“I certainly believe having the minor has benefited me personally in my career goals as an engineering student and I am inclined to think that a major can only be more beneficial for those who choose to pursue it.”

Arabic is the second-most popular language section offered by Cleveland State’s Department of Modern Languages.

Cleveland State will continue to offer Arabic as a minor after the curriculum expansion is implemented.