July 13, 2005
The war in Iraq, recent bombings in London, September 11, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Muslim culture in the United States have all contributed to the growing demand for Arabic language instruction. In response to this need, HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, is among the first colleges in the area to offer Arabic 101 with the start of the fall 2005 semester.

"There are 250 million people worldwide who speak the Arabic language. This is second only to Chinese," explained Inas Hassan, Ph.D., who will teach the course for HACC. "There are many misconceptions between the people of the Middle East and the United States. By learning the language, we can understand the basic Muslim culture and decide for ourselves whether to believe the media or guess what is right or wrong."

Knowledge of the Arabic language also can prove beneficial when looking for a job. Opportunities exist in the United States government, industry, international finance and academia.

"There is a growing opportunity for people who can speak Arabic to work in the United States government or non-government agencies now as translators, in diplomacy, foreign service and Homeland Security," said Hassan. "Not all Muslims can speak and read Arabic. While there are 1.2 billion Muslims all over the world in many countries, for these people Arabic is not their native language, but it is their religious language. Muslim students usually take Arabic in order to read the Qur'an and other religious texts."

Hassan previously taught Arabic at HACC as a non-credit course. Many students in her classes asked for a more intensive academic course.

"The students in my class were very diverse. Some were Muslim but for the most part most of the class was American," she said. "They want to know the language, the culture--what the people are like. Arabic is the language of Islam. If you learn Arabic, you also will learn about Islam."

Arabic is unlike the romance languages, such as French, German and Spanish, according to Hassan.

"You may just need twice as long as you need to reach proficiency in any European language," she said. "It is not tough to learn and its script can be learned quite quickly. If you want to get a job [using it], you would need at least three years instruction."

For more information on the four-credit course, which will be offered Monday through Friday from noon to 12:50, call the college at 717-780-2557 or click on the Web site below.

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