West Virginia University students interested in learning a new language at a slower pace and in a fun atmosphere are encouraged to consider taking an Arabic course.
After Sept. 11, 2001, the WVU Muslim Student Association and professor Sohail Chaudhry started an Arabic class in the hope of reaching out to students and teaching them the language and culture.
Chaudhry said he came to WVU as a student, and later developed the idea for the course in 2001 and began teaching it.
"After discussing the idea with MSA, they liked it a lot, and we started the course right away," Chaudhry said.
Even though there are other classes for credit through WVU, this course requires no pre-requisite and is taught in a stress-free environment once a week," he said.
"We offer two Arabic classes: 101 and 102," Chaudhry said. "Arabic 101 is based on reading and writing, and Arabic 102 is more language and conversation."
Chaudhry said students are able to take these courses either together or in separate semesters.
Pre-speech pathology and audiology student Olivia Plazak said while registering for courses, she was interested in taking a class like this one prior to attending WVU.
"Arabic is a long-term course and I've had students in the past that have been with me
continuously for more than five
semesters," Chaudhry said.
For a fee of $50, students can have access to an informal, intimate language-learning environment.
"We started the fee more so because we had seen that some students would join, but they wouldn't be committed," Chaudhry said. "The money also goes to the Islamic Center of Morgantown or local charities."
So far there are 13 students enrolled in 101 and nine students in 102; however, students are still welcome to join or wait until next semester.
Chaudhry said he enjoys learning the diverse reasons behind students' interest in the course.
"Some students might be working in the military and feel that they will use Arabic, and others just want to learn the more about the Middle Eastern culture," Chaudhry said.
Plazak said learning a language such as Arabic for the military after participating in the Air Force ROTC on campus can result in a higher pay grade.
In addition to the altered pace of the class, the style of teaching is very unique.
"For instance, when learning Arabic we take four or five letters from the alphabet and study them at a time before we move on, and we practice having conversations with one another," Chaudhry said.
"After taking these Arabic classes, I hope that students will be able to introduce themselves, communicate basic needs and also appreciate the richness and depth of the language."
Plazak said she believed the courses are beneficial to her major and personal interests.
"I took the class for two semesters last year and we covered quite a lot of material, from colors, places, to conjugations and the most important part – read and write the alphabet," Plazak said.
Plazak said another unique thing about the Arabic language is that it reads right to left, and as opposed to the English alphabet, there are 28 characters in the Arabic alphabet.
"It's a fun and involved class, it's a lot of work but worth the time and effort you put in," Plazak said.
"Writing Arabic is a beautiful art form in itself," Chaudhry said. "And with practice, students can see that."