Beautiful and rich in history, the Arabic language is spoken by over 422 million people. The language has significant social and political importance, and it is increasingly taught in universities around the United States. When languages are taught their aim should be not only to teach learners to communicate effectively, but also to gain a deep understanding and respect of culture, people, and history. The Al-Kitaab textbook series by Georgetown University Press is utilized as the main learning material in most universities in the United States to teach Arabic language. The highly political and negative nature of the series limits students’ comprehension to a political perspective influenced by the conflicts in the Middle East and has a severe impact on not only students’ learning ability but also their perception of the Arabic language and culture. While the series sufficiently provides the political vocabulary necessary for roles in government, it overlooks the importance of a full understanding of the cultural richness and nuances of the Arabic language necessary for an appreciation of history, arts, and literature of the region. The overarching objective of this project is to analyze the Georgetown University Press Al-Kitaab textbook series for Arabic language instruction and compare it to the Vista Higher Learning Sentieri textbook for Italian language instruction to plan a new Arabic curriculum to increase student enrollment. This comparison will explore recurring themes present in each textbook series and display the detrimental and outdated depictions of Arab culture presented throughout the Al-Kitaab series. Different aspects of the textbooks will be discussed including vocabulary and vocabulary progression, biographies of important figures, in-text activities, reading passages, and recurrent themes. Through revamping the learning materials used to teach Arabic, Arizona State University (ASU) and the School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC) can become innovative leaders in the instruction of university-level Arabic language.
- The Politicization of Arabic Language Education: A Comparative Analysis of Language Materials Utilized in Arabic versus Italian Courses at Universities in the United States