MSU students have the chance to begin a new four-year, intensive Arabic language program that promises fluency in a language highly sought by employers in national security fields.
MSU is one of the first universities in the country to provide students with this opportunity, in addition to the other less commonly taught languages the university already offers.
The Arabic Language Instruction Flagship program began this fall after the U.S. Department of Defense awarded MSU with a multimillion-dollar grant.
"A student can pursue regular course work for their collective majors, and at the same time, take advanced, specialized courses in Arabic designed specially to enhance their Arabic proficiency," said Wafa Hassan, coordinator of the program.
Seven students are enrolled in the program this fall. Each of the students was required to have studied the language and be advanced in both spoken and written Arabic.
By the end of the four years, students will be able to fluently participate in conversations socially and in the workplace, Hassan said.
"It is one of the most critical languages, especially in the National Security Education Program," she said.
It will increase students' opportunity for obtaining jobs within government, private sectors and the international job market, Hassan said, adding that there are more than 300 million native Arabic speakers worldwide.
This program also is partnered with the Dearborn Public School District to develop a curriculum for Arabic in kindergarten through 12th grade.
However, Arabic is not the only rarely taught language offered at MSU.
The Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages has a program devoted to less commonly taught languages.
Kim Nguyen, a Lyman Briggs freshman, said she started taking Vietnamese because she wanted to learn more about her native language and culture.
"It's a part of me and I feel I should be able to speak my own language," she said.
All languages except for English, French, German and Spanish are considered to be in this group of less commonly taught languages.
There are 10 such languages taught this fall, including Indonesian, Nepali, Persian, Turkish and Vietnamese. All the classes are taught by native speakers.