OU is home to one of the few Arabic Flagship Programs in the country. A unique initiative from the National Security Education Program, the program is part of a larger objective to create global professionals, students who have language skills and cultural awareness. For students wanting professional-level proficiency in Arabic, OU is becoming a hub for intensive study of the language as well as cultures in the Middle East.
After completing the program at OU, students are expected to receive a superior or level 3 on the ACTFL scale. ACTFL stands for The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. It is one of the largest organizations working to create language-learning opportunities in the United States. “There are no other programs in the United States that claim to have a majority of students reach a superior level on the ACTFL scale by the time they graduate,” said Genevieve Schmitt, Assistant Director of the program.
Students take courses that focus on dialect and Modern Standard Arabic in an effort to help students achieve high levels of discourse, both personally and professionally. Emphasizing cultural awareness is also a critical aspect of the curriculum.
Kelsey Hawk, a student in the program, is no stranger to international cultures. She was born abroad and grew up in several cities across the United States. With many universities to choose from, she decided to attend OU in order be a part of the Arabic Flagship Program.
Since studying in the program, the community, cultural clubs, and summer spent abroad have worked to advance her knowledge of the language. “From the time I started learning Arabic, I have come a long way,” she said.
The five-year curriculum includes a capstone year abroad in Meknes, Morocco. Students take classes in Arabic, enroll at the local university and secure an internship in the city. Before the capstone year, students are encouraged to study abroad for a summer or semester.
Kelsey went to Oman for six weeks. “It was one of the best summers I’ve had,” she said. Her program included classes during the week and excursions on the weekends. “Being immersed in the culture alongside the natives was unforgettable,” she said.
Schmitt said the program is advantageous for students looking at a variety of professions. “The point of Flagship is to take these language skills and combine them with the degree of your choice,” said Schmitt.
Graduates of the program have pursued diverse careers. “It’s an amazing way to set yourself apart because you will have incredible proficiency in a critical language,” said Schmitt. Kelsey wants to become a translator or linguist for the U.S. government and believes the program will make her a competitive applicant.
The application for next year’s class is open now and due Friday, December 9, 2016. When asked what Kelsey would say to students considering the program, she said, “Go for it.” The flagship community is tightly knit and the program is a unique opportunity in higher education.