Grant Funds Summer Language Experience

A grant from the National Security Agency will help Maissa Khatib, Ph.D., faculty member of Women’s and Gender Studies and the coordinator of the Arabic program, put on STARTALK@UTEP, a language camp this summer. The program targets 40 local high school students and introduces them to Arabic and Portuguese.

“STARTALK@UTEP enables participants to achieve one level of proficiency in the foreign language and develop positive attitudes toward those who speak the foreign language and their culture(s),” said Khatib. “During those four weeks students are immersed in the selected language (Arabic or Portuguese) and are exposed to related cultural practices and traditions for a holistic experience.”

The National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland oversees the implementation and administration of STARTALK summer programs. STARTALK’s mission is to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning, speaking, and teaching critical need foreign languages. At UTEP, the program creates a pipeline to increase the enrollment in the Arabic and Brazilian Studies programs at UTEP.

This year, UTEP organizers added an advanced level for returning students. Khatib and her team will recruit 20 students who do not have any previous knowledge of the offered languages and 20 students who participated in UTEP’s STARTALK 2016 program. Students who successfully complete the program will continue through yearlong language and cultural awareness training.

In addition to the design and implementation of the language immersion program, STARTALK @UTEP entails a research component. Lead Instructor Ms. Fatima Masoud and Director Mr. Jecoa Ross will assist Khatib in conducting research assessing participants’ learning and their perspectives and attitudes toward cultural diversity.

UTEP has been able to secure this grant for the past three years 2015-2017.

For more information, please visit their website.