Qatar Foundation International (QFI) will pay for 13 U.S. high school students to attend this year's Arabic Summer Academy at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont.
The awards -- which will include room, board, tuition and travel -- were announced this week by Middlebury Interactive Languages, the recipient of the grant and educational partner for the academy. QFI has provided 46 full scholarships to the academy during the past four years, a gesture that program officials hope will improve young Americans' appetite for Arabic, which is currently studied by only 1 percent of U.S. high school students, despite being the fifth most spoken language worldwide and increasingly important for U.S.-international relations.
"This partnership with QFI helps us in our goal of putting more students on a path to learning an important world language," Green Mountain College Director of Summer Language Academies Amy Kluber said. "But it also delivers a one-of-a-kind Arabic learning experience for these deserving students and helps them create deeper connections to Arabic speakers and cultures around the world."
The four-week immersion program requires students to sign a pledge to speak, read and write exclusively in Arabic in a program that includes real-world scenarios and cultural activities. The program will be led by Khalid Madhi, professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic at Loyola University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The program faculty consist of native and fluent Arabic speakers.
Academy officials said a recent independent review of the program found that the four-week immersion course yielded results equivalent to a full year of conventional Arabic instruction.