Mason Wins Grants for Foreign Language-Related Programs

Posted: June 7, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By David Driver

With the help of international grant coordinator Susan Graziano, Mason recently received two separate grants that will strengthen already-existing foreign language programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

One of the grants will enable students to pursue an 18-credit minor in Arabic language and culture. The other grant will help train Chinese language teachers for K through 12 schools and strengthen linkages between the Graduate School of Education and the Chinese language program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Arabic Language Program

Sana Hilmi, term instructor in Arabic in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, says the $100,000 grant from the Department of Education will go toward hiring a new faculty member with expertise in Arabic language and culture and creating a faculty development seminar and four new advanced-level courses. Altogether, these efforts will support the Arabic language and culture minor.

Hilmi, who hopes the grant will help more students study abroad, says there are many reasons students want to learn Arabic.

“Some students want to speak, some want to learn about the culture, some say I want to travel and use it. Some students say I got married to a person who speaks Arabic,” says Hilmi, the first full-time Arabic instructor at Mason.

Hilmi notes Mason already has students in its program who are studying Arabic for existing or future jobs with the U.S. government since there is a lack of U.S. government personnel who know even basic Arabic.

Chinese Language Programs

“There is an incredible increasing interest in studying Chinese language and culture in the United States right now,” says Marjorie Hall Haley, associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and the principal investigator for the $400,000 award from the Freeman Foundation.

Part of the grant will go toward training teachers in the Graduate School of Education’s Chinese Language Licensure Program.

Haley notes, “There is an interest in what we do [at Mason] and how we prepare teachers. We are well positioned to enhance our Chinese licensure program. This grant is critically important to expanding our ability to fill a void in the paucity of Chinese language teachers. With this funding over a three-year period, we can train a critical mass. ”

Haley adds that top administrative support from the president, provost and dean of CEHD made the process easier. This support assured her that “there would be sustainability at the end of the grant.”

In CEHD, the grant will allow the licensure program to hire a Chinese language licensure coordinator, create two new language training courses and revise three licensure methods courses.

In addition, the grant will fund hiring a full-time faculty member as a Chinese applied linguist and creating three new Chinese courses at the 400 level.

Karl Zhang, assistant professor of Chinese in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, is the point of contact for the Chinese language program. Zhang says several factors aided Mason’s winning bid for the grant.

“We have the licensure program, one of the earliest programs of its kind in the nation. We were already connected with the local public schools. That is a big plus. And we are in a strategic location near the nation’s capital,” says Zhang, who adds the grant will allow students to visit China in the summer of 2008.

For more information or assistance in applying for international grants, contact Graziano in the Office of the Provost at or 703-993-2995.

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