The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is planning to add an Arabic language and culture degree program, which will be conducted fully online.
There are over 200 million Arabic speakers in the world. It goes without saying that the numbers are much smaller in the state of Pennsylvania. However, many students are eager to learn Arabic, as it’s spoken in many areas of political interest at the moment. Institutions also feel as though they needed to diversify their language offerings.
The one thing standing in the way are budget cuts. Proposing an Arabic degree at a time when languages are often the first programs to go isn’t be easy. But with the demand still present, California University of Pennsylvania managed to set up a time- and cost-saving 100% online degree in Arabic language and culture. Although it’s only offered at the California campus, PASSHE plans to make the program available at all 14 campuses in their system very soon.
Although the program is in it’s beginning stages, the overall plan is for students to participate in online courses using various communication tools (webcams, audio files, etc.) and finally ending their degree earning their final credits abroad in an Arabic-speaking country.
With the technology available now, learning a language online is significantly easier than it would have been a decade ago. Still, many argue that there are certain aspects of language learning that simply cannot be taught online. It will be interesting to see where this program goes, as it could be a great model for colleges and universities who are on a tight budget, yet wish to offer their students a broad range of courses.
The full article from Inside Higher Ed can be found here.