Video: Jordanian scholar teaching Arabic at UW-Green Bay

Foreign language courses aren’t unusual at UW-Green Bay. But this one is.

This is Arabic 101.

The instructor is Ahmad Al Janadbeth, a visiting scholar from the University of Jordan.

“I like Wisconsin so far,” al Janadbeth said. “I’m very glad to be here.”

Al Janadbeth, who has a master’s degree in teaching Arabic as a second language, is teaching students in person at UW-Green Bay and by video at UW-LaCrosse through the UW-System Collaborative Language Project.

Al Janadbeth says after two months, four days a week, the students can speak and write in Arabic. But this class is about more than just language.

“The language is key for understanding culture,” Al Janadbeth said. “If you want to understand the culture you should learn the language.”

The course is offered in conjunction with UW-Green Bay’s Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships.

UW-Green Bay student Jeremy Wildenberg is the assistant instructor for the course.

“It’s been a challenge,” Wildenberg said. “Obviously, with the distance-learning format you face some different challenges than you would in a traditional course.”

Wildenberg, who spent 14 years as an Arabic and Russian linguist in the Army, says the course has a lot to offer students.

“We have political science students that may be someday working in international politics and international relations,” Wildenberg said. “I think it’s important to offer them a course like this that can broaden their horizons throughout the world and not just with your traditional romance languages.”

Wildenberg says he hopes the course will dispel some myths about Arabic.

“A lot of people consider Arabic to be incredibly difficult and inaccessible because of the writing system and it does sound very foreign,” Wildenberg said. “But really the way we teach it, and Ahmed does a great job of this, we use a very communicative approach, meaning we use the language right away in class. And I think that really makes it more accessible. I think anyone can learn Arabic if they have a desire to do that.”

Al Janadbeth will teach a second Arabic course during the spring semester.

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