WARE - A native of Morocco will introduce foreign language studies in standard Arabic at Ware Junior Senior High School when classes resume on Aug. 27.
Farida Ellouizi, 48, of Quincy, has been hired in the foreign language department by Superintendent Mary-Elizabeth Beach to teach French and a special exploratory course in the Arabic language and culture.
Ellouizi, who has lived in the United States for 13 years, speaks Arabic in a Moroccan dialect and studied standard Arabic in school in her homeland. She said that the Moroccan dialect of Arabic is her native tongue.
She learned French in elementary school, English in secondary school and is studying Spanish as a fourth language. She holds a bachelor's degree in French from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and her master's degree in applied linguistics is pending at the same university.
She is certified in Massachusetts, as well as in Morocco, to teach French. The state does not offer certification in Arabic.
In addition to teaching French in Morocco for five years, Ellouizi was a substitute teacher for three years in Boston's public schools and has worked as a French reading specialist in Milton's public schools. She is an international patient liaison at Boston Children's Hospital.
She said she will relocate to this area for the new school year. She came to America with plans to become a fashion designer, and studied the design and clothing creation in Boston.
But she said teaching has become her first love as a profession. In the Ware district, which will mark the return this fall of the junior-senior high school alignment for grades seven through 12, Ellouizi will teach seventh- and eighth-graders how to read, write, speak and understand Arabic.
She said she will focus on students' being able to communicate in the language and will use cultural documents, articles, movies, books and other media as teaching tools.
She said she also will rely on songs and games in the classroom to acclimate students to the language.
"It's a new way to teach (language)," she said. "I hope to make them a little fluent. I think (initially) it will be a bit of a challenge."
She said that learning proper pronunciation and the Arabic alphabet may be tough at first. She noted that unlike English, Arabic script moves from right to left and its characters are "like a drawing" to most English readers and writers.
Principal Lucille L. Brindisi suggested the course when Ellouizi applied to teach French. Brindisi said there will be eight sections with 23 students in each, and nearly all seventh- and eighth-graders will be exposed to the course.
She said Arabic could develop into a credited foreign language in the senior high school, which starts at ninth grade. French and Spanish are the only credited courses now.
She said standard Arabic as a foreign language is considered a "rigorous and relevant" undertaking in American public schools, especially small secondary schools.
"My understanding is that it's cutting edge, in great demand, like Chinese," Brindisi said. "It's exciting for Ware."
Beach agreed, and said she is excited about the prospect of having such a foreign language option available in the district.
"We all talk about the global society, and this (course) is truly part of that," she said. "I'm always interested in increasing diversity within our campus, both among adults and students."