Two and a half hours was the time it took for a sizeable number of people – as many as 907 – to enroll in TAU’s “Arabic for Beginners” course, from the moment its registration opened. Hundreds more asked to be added to the waiting list.
“Arabic for Beginners” has been offered by the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies for many years. Each year, several dozen students interested in the Arabic language and Islamic culture have enrolled. An online version of the course has now been developed and TAU’s President, Prof. Ariel Porat, made the decision to open the course, free of charge for every employee and student at the University. The decision reflects a conviction that every citizen in Israel should have a basic command of the Arabic language, and recognizing the special status of the Arabic language on campus.
Of the enrollees, 60% are students, 20% members of the university’s administrative staff and 20% are from the academic faculty. The demand for the course is university wide, with enrollees belonging to all faculties and fields, inluding: chemistry, medicine, theater, computer science, literature, biology, and more.
Due to the high demand, TAU’s management and the Humanities Faculty Management made the decision to expand the project and open up additional groups.
The course comprises the Arabic alphabet, a vocabulary of about 200 words, declensions, and expressions in spoken Arabic, and an introductory lecture on the foundations of Islam and religious holidays.
Prof. Uriya Shavit, Head of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and the initiator of the course, comments that, “There is an across-the-board agreement in Israeli society that Arabic studies should be promoted. The huge demand is a pleasant surprise indicating a welcomed and in-depth change in the attitude to the language.”