The Arabic Language program at the University of Texas is quite possibly the best in the nation. It incorporates some of the best teaching and learning methods for a foreign language that includes audio/visual learning, an intense acquisition of vocabulary, and some of the most able professors and teaching assistants in the nation.
I entered my first semester of an Intensive Arabic course at the University of Texas this fall, and will be completing it in the beginning of December 2010. I have desired to learn Arabic for years, as my father is a native speaker but never spoke it to me growing up, so I never acquired the language. I enrolled to learn and to also fulfill my language requirements at the University.
I am required to take four semesters of an alternate language. The first and best part about the Arabic program here is that the program is Intensive. This involves six hours a week of class. It will only take me two semesters to fulfill my four semester requirements. Because I go to Arabic class every day of the week, I never stop using it or learning. This has allowed me to excel as a beginning student extremely quickly.
My professor is one of the best professors I have had at the university. Her name is Zeina Halabi, and she is a native speaker from Lebanon who is about to acquire her PHD in teaching Arabic as a second language. The teaching assistant in my class is an American who spent a year in Syria studying Arabic, and is now a graduate student in Arabic morphology. He is completely fluent, and is sympathetic to new speakers as he one was one himself.
The grading system in the class is also an amazing addition to the class. We constantly have homework, every day in fact. It is graded and is 20 percent of our grade. This makes sure that we practice and use the new vocabulary and grammar every night. After we receive a grade for our homework, we are required to correct our mistakes for an additional five percent of our overall grade. This allows us to see what we are doing wrong and work on it. We have five quizzes, one six-minute skit, a 10-15 minute interview with a different professor, and a final exam. Our grade is spread out over many assignments, allowing us a great opportunity to do well in the course.
The program that is designed for the class is in a brilliant book combination of “Alif-Baa” which teaches the alphabet system and some vocabulary, and “Al-Kitaab”, the book that teaches more grammar and vocabulary. These books were co written by two UT professors, the famous Kristen Brustad, and Dr. Mahmoud Al-Batal. Both are extremely enthusiastic and created a brilliant program that has videos, audio files, worksheets, and great exercises in a well put together book.
If you plan to attend the University of Texas and are wondering what language to take, I highly suggest Arabic, as the program is extremely good.