Mercyhurst offers Chinese, Arabic to general public

Want to learn a language without tests? No quizzes? No worry about grades?

The World Languages Study Program at Mercyhurst College will offer non-credit courses in both conversational Chinese and Arabic beginning in January 2007. The courses will be open to area high school and college students as well as the general public.

“There is a shifting interest in languages,” said Alice Edwards, Ph.D, chair of the world languages and cultures department at Mercyhurst. “Something hits the news and everyone says ‘Wow, we need to learn Arabic.’ Colleges have trouble responding to that.”

Colleges can’t always find someone who meets academic requirements to teach a language for credit, though a person without the needed academic credentials might be available who can simply teach the language, she said.

“If our archaeology students need to learn Portuguese, we can go out in the community to someone who knows Portuguese but not necessarily someone who has academic standing. This program allows us to be very flexible,” Edwards said.

It does that by offering language instruction without the chance of getting college credit for it, she explained. “This is just to have the experience,” Edwards said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

“We are glad to be able to provide this resource to the Erie community, said Michael Lyden, EdD, director of adult and graduate programs at Mercyhurst. “Chinese is, of course, the most prevalent language in the world. The number of Arabic speakers is about equal to the number of German and French speakers combined. Although they are commonly spoken, these languages are not commonly taught.”

The courses, which include Conversational Chinese I and II as well as Conversational Arabic I and II, will start the week of Jan. 15. The fee is $149 per person, plus books and study materials. Classes will be held one night a week from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the language lab at the Hammermill Library. The term will end the week of May 14, 2007.

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