Every spring, Brunswick School Arabic teacher Ali Al-Maqtari encourages his students to "Live the language to learn it." As part of Arabic Immersion Week, students dress in traditional clothing from Arabic speaking countries, speak to one another in Arabic inside and outside the classroom, and participate in a variety of activities involving use of the language, including traditional Arabic dances, music, film and television.
"Arabic Immersion Week is the best. You get a taste of the Middle East without leaving Greenwich," said Chris Barnett, a Brunswick sophomore and Arabic II student.
Brunswick School's Arabic program, under the guidance of Al-Maqtari, has continued to evolve since it was launched in 2006. The program now offers Arabic I to IV and goes from introduction to the alphabet, vocabulary and conversation skills, to mastery of the language, working towards fluency, and striving for comprehension.
"It's really interesting to learn Arabic," said classmate Petey Briggs. "Dressing in the native garb and speaking only Arabic gives us a chance to expand our understanding of the Mideastern culture."
"My students always look forward to Arabic Immersion Week," said Al-Maqtari. "It's a great opportunity for them to enhance their cultural education at many levels."
This spring, Brunswick School launched an initiative called the Foreign Language Immersion Program (FLIP). The endowment will enhance the Upper School Modern Language curriculum -- which includes Arabic, Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Latin and Spanish -- by offering study abroad opportunities to every Upper School student, regardless of financial need, so that they can practice their language skills, live with host families, and further their understanding of the world.