Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

University adds full-time Arabic faculty

Come fall 2009, DU students can learn Arabic from a new faculty member, the first full-time Arabist in DU’s long history.

Maha Foster, who also speaks French and German, will join the languages and literatures faculty in September as a lecturer in Arabic. She has taught Arabic for more than 15 years.

“Ever since the federal government lamented the fact that there was a lack of critical languages speakers, Arabic has become one of the foreign language classes most sought after by college students,” Foster says.

Because Arabic is a Semitic language and includes sounds foreign to the American ear, Foster understands why people perceive that it is a hard language to learn. However, she says it is very learnable.

“Arabic is a very useful language to learn and it looks good on a student résumé,” she says. “I also find that students learning Arabic realize how misinformed they have been about the Arabic culture and they become a lot more open and accepting of that culture.”

Victor Castellani, chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures, says it’s important for DU to offer Arabic because it’s the fastest-growing of all world languages at U.S. colleges and universities.

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