This summer, Cal State San Bernardino will offer a program in Persian, long considered a strategic world language, complementing its Arabic Language Summer Intensive Program.
The university received nearly $195,000 from the Strategic Language Initiative, a federal program housed at Cal State Long Beach, to teach Persian, said Terri Nelson, chair of the CSUSB world languages and literature department. The federal grant will provide scholarships to cover the program fee for students as well as provide funds for faculty training and support along with summer peer tutors.
Twenty-four students will receive full summer scholarships for the five-week intensive program offering two levels of Persian. Six of the CSUSB Persian language program students are from Cal State San Bernardino, 12 from other California colleges and four are out-of-state students. The program will be taught by veteran instructor Ali Miremadi, who teaches Persian at Cal State Fullerton.
The Persian program has been relocated to Cal State San Bernardino from Cal State Fullerton, which had offered Persian for four years and is currently sending its last Persian language cohort to Tajikistan for summer instruction, said Dani Doueiri, a CSUSB assistant professor in Arabic. The Fullerton campus decided to stop offering the program because of the expected huge state budget cuts, Doueiri said.
Persian is the predominant language in Iran and is also spoken in a number of Central Asian countries, including Turkey, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. Like Arabic, the language is considered strategic for national security purposes, Doueiri said. The Strategic Language Initiative is designed to develop professional language skills in seven different critical languages, each with a CSU campus designated as the primary host institution.
In Southern California, CSUSB currently hosts the SLI Arabic hub, as well as Persian. Cal State Northridge hosts Russian; Cal State Los Angeles hosts Korean, and Cal State Long Beach hosts Mandarin Chinese. In Northern California, San Jose State hosts Arabic, San Francisco State hosts Mandarin Chinese and Persian, and Cal State East Bay hosts Dari and Pashto. The Southern California projects all began in September 2006; the Northern California projects began in September 2009 (Persian, Dari and Pashto). To date, 70 students have received SLI scholarships for Arabic language study at CSUSB.
The CSUSB's Arabic Language Summer Intensive Program focuses on teaching college students and some high school students in the greater Inland Empire to speak Arabic and explore Arabic cultures. Students receive individualized instruction by interacting with faculty, classmates and peer tutors (who are native-speaking college students). Approximately 70 students will be studying three different levels of Arabic this summer at Cal State San Bernardino, as well as 13 students who are studying in Amman, Jordan.
The Arabic Language Summer Intensive Program's growth, Nelson said, has been phenomenal. Now in its fifth year, the number of students has grown from 19 students in its first year to an expected 80 students this summer. Most are college students, who are from CSUSB, other CSU campuses and from other states. The program has also been expanded to include ROTC cadets, who are sponsored through the Project GO ROTC Language and Culture project. The Project Go grant is being renewed for the summer of 2012 and will include Persian. A grant from StarTalk will also provide scholarship support to 40 students to participate in the summer Arabic program.