The Language Center and the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures are pleased to announce that the Arabic language program has been added to the PACE Project effective January 1, 2015.
When the PACE Project proposal was submitted to The Language Flagship during the spring of 2014, the Arabic program was in a period of transition. A search was underway for a new Director of Language Instruction (DLI), and other instructional positions were open. The department did not have the personnel in place to commit to a two-year project.
Since then, a new DLI, Katrien Vanpee, has been hired, and open instructional positions have been filled. Under Dr. Vanpee's guidance, the Arabic program began a process of substantial institutional and curricular change. In addition to a revamped language program, the department is offering a new upper-level course for students on the topic of reading Arabic texts. ALL is in the process of hiring additional instructional staff and is planning for its first tenure-line faculty member in Arabic Literature & Culture.
To improve the oral language proficiency of its students, Arabic requires that students engage in some form of extracurricular language practice, which can include the Language Center's TandemPlus language exchange program. In this program, learners of Arabic are matched with Arabic native speakers for extensive oral practice and cultural exchange outside of class. Arabic language students meet with their partners regularly throughout the semester to practice Arabic, and to offer their partners help with English. The Arabic program works closely with TandemPlus on the coordination and supervision of the exchanges.
Dr. Vanpee is enthusiastic about the Arabic program joining the PACE Project. There is limited historical data about the proficiency level attained by Arabic students, and this is an outstanding opportunity for the program to receive concrete information about what Arabic students can do with the language, and to receive direction on how to further develop the curriculum. Dr. Vanpee is particularly interested in data about students' ability to speak Arabic and plans to use the data gathered by the project for continual curricular improvement.
Arabic students will be tested using the same speaking assessment as other PACE languages, the ACTFL OPIc. Reading and Listening will be assessed by brand new adaptive tests developed at Brigham Young University and available through ACTFL. The full list of PACE languages is now Arabic, French, German, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
The PACE Project is funded by a grant from The Language Flagship.