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WKU Arabic instructor speaks at education summit in Qatar

Arabic is the fastest growing language taught in the United States, at both university and high school levels. WKU continues to be on the cutting edge of this growth in Kentucky. Since starting the only Arabic major program in the state, WKU is taking its message across the ocean.

WKU Arabic instructor Lhousseine Guerwane (left) speaks to a workshop of Arabic educators at the World Innovation Summit on Education in Doha, Qatar.

WKU Arabic instructor Lhousseine Guerwane (left) speaks to a workshop of Arabic educators at the World Innovation Summit on Education in Doha, Qatar.

From Nov. 2-5, Lhousseine Guerwane, Instructor of Arabic at WKU, traveled as an official guest of the Qatar Foundation International to share his insights and experiences at the World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE) in Doha. This summit brought together leaders in education from more than 130 countries, including Michelle Obama, Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Roberta Gbowee, prime ministers and education ministers from across the globe.

While at the summit, Guerwane addressed the audience regarding his work integrating language and culture into Arabic classrooms while at WKU and during summer programs with The Center for Gifted Studies’ VAMPY program offered on the main campus at WKU. “It was an amazing experience to share ideas with some of the finest Arabic educators in the world,” said Guerwane, who has participated in Qatar Foundation professional development programs for years. “The Qatar Foundation is leading the way in spreading the teaching of Arabic in the United States and in the Americas. I am very excited to be part of this effort.”

Guerwane started the first Arabic programs at Atherton and Seneca high schools in Jefferson County, both of which are going strong.

Lhousseine Guerwane at the WISE conference hall, before First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech.

Lhousseine Guerwane at the WISE conference hall before first lady Michelle Obama’s speech.

The Arabic Program at WKU has had a great response from students. “Students are trying Arabic and sticking with it,” said Dr. Laura G. McGee, head of the Department of Modern Languages. “They love really learning to communicate in the language. The testing we have done shows that their language proficiency is developing beyond our expectations. They’re learning a lot and they are enjoying the cultural exchange we offer. That’s what we want. At the core of this success is good teaching. We’re so glad to have Lhousseine Guerwane on our faculty. He’s clearly an asset to our program.”

The Department of Modern Languages is working with schools in Bowling Green and beyond in a vision to develop K-12 Arabic instruction throughout Kentucky. “We hope the Qatar Foundation becomes a key partner in an effort to diversify language offerings in the region,” McGee said.

The Arabic Program at WKU has grown since its inception in 2014. The 32 current Arabic majors come from all walks of life. They plan to use Arabic to enhance careers in a variety of fields, here and abroad. “We can’t wait to see the amazing things they do,” McGee said.

Contact: David DiMeo, david.dimeo@wku.edu

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