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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.

The MENA Languages Placement TESTS

The 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. Click here for more information about the Placement Tests for Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish.  


Majoring or Minoring in MENA STUDIES

Click here to see how to use MENA Languages courses towards a Major or Minor. Arabic courses at and above the 211 level can be used towards an Arabic Minor.  Many courses in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish can be used towards a MENA Studies Major or Minor.  Hebrew courses can be used towards a Jewish Studies Major or Minor, or a Hebrew Studies Minor.  And Turkish courses can be used towards a German Major or a German Studies Minor.  

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.