When announced to the students as an offering for Winter Term, the Arabic Workshop class filled with 20 people in five minutes. Now, students reflect on the workshop and its future.
As the Arabic workshop was a non-credit course, it could be taken at a relaxed pace, and the overall grade would not negatively impact a student’s GPA. Student rationale for joining the workshop varied from a desire to have a greater understanding of their major, to joining and understanding a global community. To taking a chance without having to worry about it negatively impacting their GPA.
By the end of the term, only about a fourth of the class remained in the workshop. Some had left due to stress, lack of interest or other activities.
When Arabic instructor Katie Kiraly petitioned at the end of Winter Term for more courses to continue her students’ introduction to Arabic and bring more students in, her request was denied.
The administration has yet to speak on whether the test-run showed a positive future for Arabic at Knox or not.
However, students who participated spoke positively of the experience.
“You got out of it what you put in, so if you attended class and did the homework then you would learn things,” Junior Katie Hutton said. “I liked that there was no stress. Because there was no credit, there was no grade, so I felt like it was a better way to learn a language than to have the stress of homework on top of it.”
For students who already knew a little Arabic, Kiraly created Arabic Table.
Senior Mark Muniz first encountered the Arabic language when he spent a trimester studying abroad in Jordan. In Jordan he spoke a little bit of Arabic every day, talking to classmates, teachers and his host family. But now that he’s back at Knox, Arabic is not as easy to practice. With Arabic Table he found a place to practice.
“I really liked [Arabic Table],” Muniz said. “It was a good way for us to practice our language skills after we stopped studying the language. It helped us retain what we’ve learned.”
When asked about how he planned to use Arabic in the future, sophomore Micah Wilger replied, “My language skills are very basic right now, but I would like to keep working on them. I do like to read Arabic texts online. I don’t necessarily know all the vocabulary, but if there’s a bilingual text that I’m just reading as part of personal research or studies, I can read the Arabic part now. So yeah, hopefully reading, and hopefully more opportunities for conversation.”
For students looking to learn the language, Muniz said, “Work on your handwriting, because it’s very important. Exercise your throat, because there’s noises in the alphabet that just don’t exist in our language. And be prepared to realize just how many weird quirks our language has compared to Arabic.”