|TUCSON (AP) - The Arabic language is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide but few Tucson residents speak it and it's even more rare in high school.|
|But if you walk into Nour Jandali's seventh period class at Cholla High Magnet School, you will find 25 students learning to speak the Modern Standard Arabic language.
The Tucson Unified School District, which also offers German, Chinese, French and Spanish, is the first district in Pima County to offer a class in Arabic, said Assistant Principal Tariq Rasool.
Jandali, who also works as the Arabic translator for Tucson Unified School District and teaches math, said teaching another language is important for students.
"It's about bridging cultures together," the Syrian-born Jandali said.
"That's part of the problem," he said. "We don't know each other. There are many misconceptions and no understandings."
Rasool taught the class the alphabet during the first weeks of school, as the school struggled to find an instructor.
"It has to be drilled into their heads like second nature," Rasool said of the alphabet. "They had to begin on the fundamentals but they were thrilled to death of the class."
Students taking the course had their own ideas about utilizing the language.
Racheal Boulio, 17, a junior, hopes that someday the language will take her to the Middle East, where she dreams of studying ancient Egypt.
"I want to be an Egyptologist," Boulio said. "There's a mystery behind the place and I want to learn about it. The people have a very interesting culture and the only way to do that is to learn the language."