Students learn Arabic in Olson’s new class

By Cassie King 

With thousands of possible languages to learn, the options are almost unlimited. Snider has had French, Spanish, and German classes for many years. This year, a new world language has been added to this list, Arabic.  

Ms. Anna Olson, English 12 teacher, is now Snider’s first Arabic teacher to a class of 32 students. A wide variety of students are taking this new class, from freshman to seniors looking to learn a new language before graduation. Some students are already fluent in Arabic, and others have never spoken a word before stepping into the classroom.  

Having learned Arabic as an undergrad and then getting her masters at the University of Edinburg in Scotland, Ms. Olson wants to help students learn this challenging language. 

“I love the language and I think it’s beautiful,” Ms. Olson said. “It is also considered a critical language so there are scholarships for people who speak it. There are also a lot of students at Snider who are Muslim, or whose parents come from the Arabic world. So I think it’s a good option to have.” 

Reasons for taking this class vary from person to person. Some thought it would be an easy class to take, and others have family members who speak Arabic so they want to learn more. The first day of school people went around the room discussing their reason for taking the class.  

Senior Simone McCowan has taken three years of German at Snider and is now taking Arabic for her senior year. 

“Arabic is one of the three languages I want to learn before I die,” McCowan said. 

While Arabic is a difficult language to learn, freshman Charles Monroe took on the challenge in his first year at Snider. 

“It is an interesting language that I wanted to try,”  Monroe said. 

Students have learned how to introduce themselves and are now learning the Arabic alphabet. The class started learning words using transliteration, which is representing characters from one alphabet with those of another, such as using English letters to represent Arabic words. It is important for students to learn the alphabet in order to communicate with native Arabic speakers when reading or writing. More difficult topics, such as grammar, will be taught later in the year. 

“The grammar in Arabic is pretty different from English grammar, so when you learn Arabic you have to let go of direct translations to English. There are also a lot of sounds we don’t have in English that can be hard to understand.” Olson said 

The class has just started, but students are looking forward to learning basic conversations, learning to read stories, and learning about the culture surrounding the Arabic language. 

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