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First-year focus


Welcome to the MENA Languages Program. We are excited that you are interested in learning more about our program. Whether you are trying to fulfill the WCAS Language Requirement with Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish, or would like to continue studying a MENA language, we have the right courses for you. This page provides the most important information for First-Year Students and links to other pages on our website that we think might help you decide which course(s) are right for you.

We would like to impress on you that advanced proficiency in a Middle Eastern language requires several years of study. If you think that you would like to study Arabic, Turkish, Persian, or Hebrew while at Northwestern, it would be best to start as a first-year student. If you had Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish language instruction before, or have learned the language at home or through an y other means, you must take a placement test before you can sign up for any classes in the MENA Languages Program. This is to ensure that you re starting with the right class.

Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement

WCAS, Journalism and various other schools have a Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement.  In order to fulfill the Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish, you will have to pass 121-3 (the third quarter of second-year language instruction) with a grade of C- or better.  Note that Persian may not be offered every year and it should not be taken by students who are seeking to fulfill the Foreigh Language Proficiency Requirement in a timely manner.

If you need to take the placement exam, would like to discuss results, need to validate your placement results, or have general questions about studying Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish, please contact any of the following instructors below:

The MENA Languages Placement TESTS

The MENA Languages Placement tests will place a student in the appropriate language class from which he/she will begin work towards either fulfilling the Language Proficiency Requirement in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish or continuing to study to the advanced level. If you have questions regarding your placement, contact the instructors listed above:

Please observe the online Placement Test dates so that you can be placed into the correct class(es)

Majoring or Minoring in MENA STUDIES

MENA Studies offers an interdisciplinary major which combines substantial training in a relevant language – Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or Hebrew – and a stimulating, well-rounded mix of History, Humanities, and Social Science courses related to the Middle East and North Africa. "History" classes are offered by the departments of History and Classics; "Humanities" classes are offered by the departments of Art History, English, Radio/TV/Film (School of Communications), Religious Studies, and the Program of Comparative Literature; "Social Science" classes are offered by the departments of Anthropology and Political Science. Course topics taught by faculty in a variety of disciplines include MENA in international politics, mass media, migration, digital cultures, arts and literature, law, and religious movements. Some students decide to complete a MENA minor by taking a varied but smaller roster of courses, without a language requirement. Many students study abroad in the region, and their courses count towards the major.

Studying Abroad

Study abroad is a valuable complement to language and culture studies in class. MENA Studies and the MENA Languages Program work carefully with individual students to integrate a period of study  into their overall academic plans. Students have the opportunity to not only improve their language skills but also to live and interact with native speakers and foreigners. Students typically return from their time abroad with a much firmer grasp of the language. The varied contacts with other students, travelers, and local residents are invaluable for the development of a balanced, global perspective. For more information on study abroad opportunities go here.

Student Mentoring Program

If you are undecided about studying a language in the MENA Languages program, you will have the opportunity to meet a MENA upperclassman once a quarter for a meal in a local restaurant paid for by the program. These mentoring sessions are designed to give you insights into the program from the point of view of an upperclassman. You will learn more about relevant curricula, programs, undergraduate research, internships, and study abroad opportunities from students who have direct, recent personal experience with these issues. If you have any questions about this program or would like to meet an upperclassman for a meal, please contact the Franziska Lys, Director of the MENA Languages Program.


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