Arabic language class adds Middle Eastern flavor to Quinnipiac course curriculum

By on October 24, 2006

Quinnipiac University will be introducing Arabic classes as its seventh language course beginning next semester. The new Arabic course will join already existing courses in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

The decision to add a new language, made by Ronald Quirk, chairman of the language department, was something the department had been planning to do for some time now. Quirk believes Arabic is a good language for Quinnipiac to offer because of the benefits its students can obtain.

“It is really helpful, especially in today’s world, to go into different fields,” Quirk said. “We need to widen our horizons and achieve a better overall general knowledge.”

Quirk pointed out the job opportunities that can be offered to people who understand Arabic.

“I just recently read that the FBI only has 33 people employed that understand Arabic,” he said.

In the spring semester, there will be one course called Elementary Arabic 101. It will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. The course will teach modern, standard Arabic. In the fall of 2007, Quirk said the university hopes to start teaching an Arabic 102 course.

In looking for a qualified instructor to teach the first Arabic-language course in Quinnipiac history, Quirk used the Hartford Seminary. Home of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. The seminary is the oldest center for such study in America.

There, Quirk was directed to Hazza Abu Rabia, who has already drafted the syllabus for his course next semester. Abu Rabia is currently studying at the University of Connecticut, and is expected to receive his second master’s degree next month.

“I’m looking forward to teaching here,” Abu Rabia said. “It should be a good experience for me. I hope the students benefit from my teaching.”

Although Abu Rabia is excited to teach, he thinks that it could be a “challenge” for him.

“I really hope that I have good students. That is really important. It is easier to teach the material if the students are into it.”

Abu Rabia has heard only good things about Quinnipiac, especially through students he previously taught who now attend its law school.

Quinnipiac plans to add more languages to its repertoire in the future, but the department is in no rush, citing the issues of allotting classrooms as one issue the university deals with in adding new courses.

The university will concentrate on “one language at a time,” Quirk said.


About Jason Braff