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ISSUE 120 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/13/2006

Elnimeiry teaches language

By Stephanie Soucheray
News Editor

Friday, October 13, 2006

Nine students sit in Buntrock 142 on Tuesday night. Their pens are poised over their workbooks. They draw characters, pronounce words and ask the teacher questions. These students remain silent as their instructor writes on the white board, and checks their homework.

Though they may look like any other group of students in a St. Olaf night class, these diligent students are taking the Arabic language class on their own time.

It will not boost their GPA, impress their professor or fill a GE, but twice a week they gather to learn what is fast becoming one of the most important political languages of the 21st century.

Khider Elnimeiry ’'07, who is graduating in December, leads the class as a student teacher paid by the Student Support Services (SSS). He got the idea for an Arabic language class during his first year, but this year the class has grown in popularity.

"I have about 25 students so far, and the number is certainly higher that what I used to have in previous years," Elnimeiry said.

The class has no budget, but Elnimeiry tries to structure it so it can be effective in teaching students the difficult Arabic language in a comprehensive manner.

Elnimeiry gives in-class quizzes and assignments and would like to introduce testing this year.

"I learned the language when I was younger," Elnimeiry said, "and because the language is so hard to pick up, we go slower than a regular Arabic class but cover more material."

The students meet twice a week and so far none have complaints.

"As the linguist Ludwig Wiggenstein said, ‘'The limits of your language are the limits of your world,'’" said Anna Franske ’'07. "As a religion major, I would have to learn Arabic, and this is an awesome – and free – opportunity to do so."

Elnimeiry created the language class after he broached the subject at a Muslim Student Association (MSA) meeting and was met with a positive response.

Elnimeiry, who is from Rochester but was born in Sudan, plans to attend medical school after graduation.

The Arabic language class is the only one of its kind on campus. At first, Elnimeiry taught the classes for free, but then asked the SSS to help fund him.

"They gave me limited hours so I can now get paid," Elnimeiry said.

One welcome difference from the Arabic language class compared to other classes at St. Olaf is the course load.

"I do not give any homework, but I give a lot of classwork and advise students to take some time outside class to look over materials from lectures to keep it fresh in their mind," Elnimeiry said.

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