The university's Arabic Flagship Program will feature an intensive summer program for the first time this year.
The summer program will allow students to finish the equivalent of the first year of Arabic classes, totalling the 10 credit hours of ARAB 1115 and ARAB 1225, during two sessions, according to the program.
The summer program will be offered to high-school students, incoming freshmen and current OU students, and neither prior involvement in the flagship program nor Arabic speaking experience are required to participate.
"A lot of OU students realize that learning Arabic would be valuable and this gives them the opportunity to catch up, and be ready to keep learning it the second year," program coordinator Heidi Logsdon said.
OU is one of five universities in the country to offer the Arabic Flagship Program, including Arabic classes, extracurricular activities, guest speakers, discussions, cooking classes, movies and other culture-specific events.
The flagship program's overall focus is on creating proficient speakers who also are able to read and write on the level of people who use Arabic as their native language, Logsdon said.
"Arabic is not offered in any high school, even though it is such a beautiful and critical language," Logsdon said. "We hope to awake the passion of studying Arabic in some students who don't have the opportunity to do so."
The summer program will familiarize students with the Arabic script and develop basic proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Students also will work in smaller groups with language tutors who will assist them in practicing material, completing homework assignments and carrying out tasks assigned by the class instructor, according to the program.
Like the flagship program, the summer program also will offers exposure to Arab culture through films, presentations and cooking.
The program's curriculum is intended to combat a current lack of Arabic speakers in the U.S., Logsdon said.
"We have a lack of people trained in Arabic language and culture for our national security and our diplomatic relations," Logsdon said. "There's also a need of Arabic teachers and the personal growth and career path in those domains are tremendous."
To accelerate the program's impact, students will be asked to communicate in Arabic whenever possible, and the use of English during the program will be kept to a minimum, according to the program.
In addition to the intensive summer program, the Arabic flagship program offers several study abroad opportunities, including a 12-month program to Alexandria, Egypt, that only one OU student has experienced thus far.
"It's certainly a challenging program ... You have to be ambitious and know where you're getting yourself to," program participant and political science senior Chase Smithburg said.
Smithburg said he has been studying Arabic since 2007 but was still surprised when he used it in real situations.
"The Arabic we learned, the formal Arabic used by media for example, is completely different than the colloquial Arabic," Smithburg said. "They sure keep you very busy, which is good, because you're forced to be constantly in an Arabic-speaking environment and that is the only way to learn."