Grant gives support for students to learn Arabic

May 29, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- A new federal grant received by the Department of Comparative Literature will provide scholarship support for high school students who live near University Park, and for college students at Penn State campuses other than University Park, to learn Arabic this summer. Students can earn four Penn State credits in a four-week intensive Arabic course, called the STARTALK Arabic Academy, that will be offered on the University Park campus. These scholarships could benefit faculty and staff families with eligible students. Because the Arabic Academy begins June 15, anyone interested should contact Bonnie Rossman in the Department of Comparative Literature at as soon as possible. Applications are being received now and students will be admitted on a rolling basis.

As Department Head Caroline D. Eckhardt explains, the grant comes from federal funds that are administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. The federal STARTALK initiative seeks to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important world languages that are not now widely taught in the United States. In particular, STARTALK's mission includes expanding access to critical foreign languages by offering students creative and engaging summer experiences. For 2009, STARTALK has funded 125 summer programs nationwide; funds just recently became available.

Penn State's program in this initiative is called the STARTALK Arabic Academy and will begin on June 15. In this four-week intensive program, which meets Monday through Friday, students can complete the equivalent of a full semester's study of Arabic and receive four credits for Penn State's Arabic 001 course. For STARTALK students, morning classes are enhanced by activities including an afternoon immersion session and e-mail or video partnerships with students in Tunisia who speak Arabic and are learning English.

The STARTALK grant includes tuition scholarships for high school and college students. Because housing is not provided for high school participants, they should live within daily commuting distance of the University Park campus. College students may be able to live in the University Park residence halls or make housing arrangements on their own. Also, because the grant focuses on expanding access, applications are sought from under-served students, for whom Arabic language coursework is not available at their current high school or Penn State campus.

Additional information is available at or from Bonnie Rossman at or (814) 863-0589.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 02, 2009