GW to house Arabic center

Researchers at a GW graduate school have been tapped to help coordinate and improve the nation’s K through 12 Arabic language education programs.

The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development recently received a grant to develop the country’s first resource center to provide nationwide access to materials for teachers and administrators of Arabic in grades K through 12.

Under the leadership of Professor Anna Uhl Chamot, the program will develop and maintain an Arabic K through 12 materials archive to be housed at GW and made available to the public. It will also develop an electronic mailing list to provide teachers and other faculty with the opportunity to share information, and distribute a quarterly newsletter with news about methods and resources.

GW’s GSEHD is currently ranked 19th in the nation, and officials said the new program could help the school become more prominent

“I think it will increase the visibility of the school. When people are looking for the information on this database, they will automatically think of GW,” said Mary Futrell, dean of the GSEHD.

GW responded to a request for a proposal by the Department of Education Title VI Higher Education Act International Research and Studies Program this past January to establish an Arabic center, and was rewarded a $115,000 grant in June.

“The basic impact on our school will be in the area dealing with foreign language education … diversity is a contributing issue in the rank, and this will help us in that area,” Futrell said.

The GSEHD surveyed 61 public and private accredited day schools over the past three years. Officials from all of the schools stressed the need for better teaching materials, more teacher training and more contact with fellow Arabic teachers, said Dr. Catharine Keatley, associate director of the National Capital Language Resource Center, which is working with GW on the resource center.

“The grant aims to meet this need by developing a Web site with these 60 schools, which represent about half of the schools that teach Arabic in the U.S,” Keatley said.

The GSEHD does not house an Arabic department, but the program will be utilizing resources of the National Capital Language Resource Center, which is a collaboration between GSEHD, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), and Georgetown University. Georgetown has the only doctoral program for Arabic studies in the country.

“We will also be collaborating with the American Association of Teachers of Arabic and the Language Resource Center for the Middle East, headquartered in Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City,” Keatley said.

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