MSU to offer teacher certification in Arabic language

January 12, 2011

Michigan State University will help increase the number of teachers certified to teach Arabic language in K-12 public schools by offering new academic programs for both current and prospective teachers.

Demand for teaching Arabic is particularly great in Michigan, home to one of the largest populations of Arab Americans in the country. However, few teachers are actually certified in the subject area because state-approved preparation programs have been limited.

MSU will now offer an Arabic endorsement and related master’s degree program for certified teachers who wish to add Arabic to their credentials. This option, primarily expected to serve native Arabic speakers working in southeast Michigan schools, can be completed almost entirely online.

The university also will offer a traditional teacher preparation program for undergraduates who want to become certified Arabic teachers. Both programs will enroll candidates starting in fall 2011.

“Many schools want to grow their programs in Arabic and better serve the linguistic and cultural needs of their students, but they have been stymied because there hasn’t been a good pipeline for teachers to get certified,” said Jeff Bale, assistant professor and subject area leader for world languages in the MSU College of Education. “We can use the strengths of our top-ranked teacher education program to meet a pretty urgent state need.”

The programs will be administered by MSU’s Department of Teacher Education in partnership with the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages, which houses the Arabic major and minor programs at MSU launched in 2009.

Teacher candidates will be able to pursue Arabic certification at the elementary, secondary or full K-12 level. Course requirements will be adjusted based on each student’s knowledge of Arabic language, culture and literature and their teaching experience.

“There are so many native speakers in Michigan who are currently teaching other subjects, or who would like to become teachers,” said Wafa Hassan, an MSU outreach coordinator in the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages who provides workshops on Arabic teaching around the state. “Offering these certification programs will help us standardize the teaching of Arabic, as much as any other teaching area in the field.”

MSU also hopes to offer an experimental, post-baccalaureate certification program for people who want to become teachers of a world language, including Arabic. This program, for which the university is seeking approval from the Michigan Department of Education, would be open to candidates who already hold a relevant bachelor’s degree and who are proficient in the target language.

Students interested in the programs may contact Bale at jbale@msu.edu or (517) 353-0750.