Arabic Lecturer Saeda Tomnbay has spent the last three months drilling her class on writing and speaking the Arabic language and understanding the culture.
Students taking ARAB 1471, Beginning Arabic 1, agreed Tomnbay has helped them learn the basics.
"Mrs. Tomnbay is teaching us the basis for just about every Arabic language," sociology sophomore Daniel Collins said Nov. 27. "Once you know the basics, it won't be hard to pick up the other dialects in other Middle Eastern countries."
Tomnbay explained the demand for this language in America.
"It can be very helpful to know Arabic during these times because of all the political problems between the U.S. and the Middle East," she said. "The military is always looking for American citizens who can speak the language. They pay well, too."
In the United States military, Army enlistees who can speak and translate Middle Eastern dialects are offered $10,000 bonuses, she said.
An ad on Monster.com offered a salary from $151,200 to $186,500 for an Arab linguist to help the U.S. Army operation in Iraq.
President George W. Bush said in January that it should be an "urgent priority for Americans to learn the language of Africa and the Middle East for national security reasons."
Tomnbay focuses on basic conversation and allows the students to speak and hear the language as much as possible.
"My students are actually ahead because being in Arabic 1, they should barely be pronouncing basic words and learning the alphabet, but this class is reading, writing and having conversations," Tomnbay said.
She said she can tell who studies the materials at home because those students are learning material faster than they should be for first-time speakers.
Tomnbay makes an extra effort to be available to students any time they need her. She even skipped maternity leave to be in class.
"I had my baby boy on Friday, Sept. 14, and made it to class on Tuesday, Sept. 18. I have never missed a class. I think it is a cultural thing," said Tomnbay, who is Jordanian. She explained the customs growing up in the Middle East and said the women must stay home for 40 days after having a child.
Students in Tomnbay's class spoke about the cultural differences between the Middle East and the United States.
"Mrs. Tomnbay said that when men take an oath, they swear on their beard and if they go against their word, they must shave it off," Erik Haffner, international relations sophomore, said.