as-Salaam 'Alaykum to UCT

21 October 2002
IT'S BEEN 75 years in the making, but the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures will make history this coming summer term when it hosts the University's first Arabic course (of any kind).

The accredited Initial Arabic will run as a four-week introductory language course for students from UCT, Stellenbosch and University of Western Cape. The programme will be presented by Aslam Farouk-Ali, who recently completed his Masters degree in Religious Studies at UCT.

He has obtained his instructor qualifications at the Arabic Language Institute of the King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, where he did courses on Arabic language proficiency and teaching Arabic to non-Arab speakers.

The course assumes no previous knowledge of the language, and will therefore start with the very basics, explains Farouk-Ali. “Essentially, we'll try to get the students to some level of proficiency in the four basic language skills, namely reading, writing, speaking and listening,” he says.

According to Associate Professor David Wardle, who heads the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, UCT has since the 1920s, under the terms of the will of Hajee Sullaiman Shahmahomed, had the wherewithal to offer Arabic, although it is still prevented from using the bequest as it would like. The first offering is a trial, which may lead to a full major.

“Arabic is an exceedingly important world language, and Islamic culture has had an enormous influence in the world and will certainly continue to do so,” he says. “And any culture is best studied through its original language.”

Initial Arabic will run from November 18 to December 13.

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