Shalem College's Arabic-Studies Program Gives “Immersive” New Meaning

May 4, 2014

Source: Shalem College


According to British memory champion Ed Cooke, the closer learning feels to a game, the more quickly information is assimilated. No doubt he’d approve of Shalem College's recent Arabic immersion program, which used experiential games to teach basic proficiency in Arabic—in just three days. Alongside intensive language labs, hands-on activities reinforced the recognition and internalization of the Arabic alphabet, granting students basic reading and pronunciation skills, as well as a wealth of vocabulary words and the confidence to tackle one of the most notoriously difficult languages to learn.


The program’s highlights included playing “Sirat al-Mustaqim,” a game in which teams were required to identify Arabic words on wooden slates in order to progress on the “straight path” mandated by the Koran, and a treasure hunt in the old city’s Arab shuk, during which students were encouraged to practice their budding language skills on local residents and shop owners. By the program’s conclusion, students once intimidated by Arabic were strongly considering Shalem’s major in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.


Designed to produce graduates capable of conversing in a language of strategic importance to Israel and the world at large, Shalem’s Arabic Studies program will take the form of hour-long, one-on-one sessions four days a week, conducted entirely in Arabic. Its instructors, both of whom are native speakers, will lead students in discussions of cultural, social, and political issues specific to the region. Shalem’s insistence that native Arabic speakers teach its language course, explains one instructor, “shows that the college is aiming for a real depth of linguistic and cultural knowledge, and not mere ‘competency.’ Moreover, in our one-on-one speaking sessions, we can get a real feel for each student’s strengths and weaknesses, and tailor our instruction to meet his needs.”


Read more at Shalem College's Blog.

Updated: Jun. 25, 2014