The Modern Linguist
Faculty Spotlight

Eye on Alumni
A View from Abroad
Scripture of the Month

Faculty Spotlight

Rajai Alabid, Arabic

Rajai Alabidمممم Al-SalamALaykum. This is a common Arabic greeting, which in English means, "Peace be upon you."

For those of you who do not yet know me, I am currently in my second semester teaching Arabic at Whitworth University. (I can hear your voices as you read this, "What?! We have an Arabic class?" – Yes, we do. And it's tons of fun!)

Arabic is my native language. I speak the colloquial dialect that is used in the West Bank and Jordan because I lived most of my life in that region, in addition to Modern Standard Arabic (MLA). Even though there are many dialects in the Arab world, I teach MLA because it is the form used to teach at educational institutions all over the Arab world. After university, I taught English as a second language to non‐native speakers of the language, mostly Arabic speakers at different secondary schools. I moved to the United States in 2010 to pursue a master's degree at Gonzaga University in Teaching English as a Second Language. I spent the next two years studying second-language acquisition and learning the theories and methodologies important for teaching learners of all languages. At Gonzaga I also had the opportunity to teach beginning and intermediate Arabic to American undergraduate students in the modern languages department. I loved it!

The fact that I have been able to teach English to native Arabic speakers and Arabic to native English speakers has allowed me to perceive and analyze the similarities and differences between the two languages, thereby increasing my ability to predict the challenges that my students face in learning the new language. It is my firm belief that these dual teaching experiences have made me a stronger, more competent teacher in the field. More importantly, I have found my teaching passion in being able to share my native language with others. Learning languages has always been fun for me, and I love to make it so for my students. It is fun teaching my students the sounds, grammar and common vocabulary of Arabic, and I use a variety of strategies and activities to make this learning engaging in a fun and communicative way. Educational games and in‐class language workshops are just a few of the techniques that I employ and that students enjoy.

When I first started teaching Arabic, I was curious to see why students wanted to study the language. I wondered: Did they really want to use it, or was it just a requirement they needed to fill? After three years of teaching Arabic here in the United States, I have been pleasantly surprised to see that some of my students are learning the language because they plan to use it as they travel abroad in the Middle East. As a result, I include cultural training into my classes as well as focused oral-language development. The fact that Arabic has many uncommon sounds for speakers of English makes my students more determined to know, practice and perfect these sounds. This interest and enthusiasm continues to motivate me to prepare the best possible language learning experiences I can for my students.

During my short time here at Whitworth, I have been greatly impressed by the integrity, enthusiasm and strong work ethic of the students as well as the willingness of both students and staff to welcome me into the Whitworth community. I look forward to continuing this relationship in the years to come.

! شكراً ! Shukran (Thank you!)
ع عة ة   Ma'Alsalama (Good-bye.)

Rajai Alabid

Eye on Alumni

Savannah Hieronymus, '14, French and Communication Double Major

Savannah HieronymusComing into Whitworth as a freshman, I had no idea what I wanted to study. The huge course catalogue seemed both exciting and daunting; my options were endless. Since I didn't yet have a direction, I chose everything. The general education requirements never felt like a burden, just more opportunity to discover whether I enjoyed a new subject. One of these new subjects was French. I started at the 101 level during my first semester and fell in love with it. I was fortunate to have passionate, engaging professors who taught me to appreciate not only the language, but francophone culture and history as well. I continued to take French courses every semester, and eventually declared it as a major. I spent a semester in France with Whitworth's France study program during my junior year. At that point I didn't have a clear post-university career path in mind, but I knew that I wanted to do something that would allow me to use my skills as a French speaker, and that would, I hoped, involve traveling in some form.

Savannah HieronymusJust before graduating in May 2014, I found out I had been accepted to teach English in France through Teaching Assistant Program in France. The one-year program would place me in a French high school, working with students ages 15-18. I knew that moving to France would be a big step, but I was ecstatic to go back to the country I had come to love. I left home in September and am now in my second semester of teaching at Lycée Emile Littré in Avranches, a small town in Lower Normandy. I work with various grade levels, teaching English language skills as well as American culture. Though I teach mostly in English, I occasionally use French as a comprehension aid with the lower levels. I also speak French with students, teachers and administrators outside of the classroom on a daily basis. I never planned to become a teacher, nor could I ever have imagined how much I would enjoy working with high-schoolers. This job has proven to be challenging at times yet very rewarding, and I am so grateful to be where I am.

The language skills I learned at Whitworth have allowed me to begin this new chapter of life, in a place that has come to feel like a second home to me. I've built relationships with many kind and interesting people, natives and foreigners alike. I've had the opportunity to travel to numerous European countries during my stay; exploring new cities only heightens my desire to see even more of the world. I'm fortunate to be here now, doing something I love, because of the interest and appreciation for language and culture that I learned from Whitworth.

A View from Abroad

David Greenwood, '15, International Business Major
Teagan Brown, '17, International Business Major

David Greenwood "妈妈和爸爸, 你们好! 好久不见, 怎么了?"  "你好 大个字和帅哥儿!"

These were the words of perhaps our most common interaction during our semester in Beijing, China. Translated, the phrases are, "Mom and Dad, hello! Long time no see, what's up?" and, "Oh hello big stature and handsome guy" (our nicknames). This was our daily greeting to the middle-aged couple that ran our favorite convenience store, which we affectionately named "Ma and Ba's," located in the middle of our campus in a building no larger than an SUV. Almost everyone on the Whitworth in China trip frequented Ma and Ba's daily to purchase drinks, dumplings or ice cream, but more importantly, to test our Chinese with our close friends, Ma and Ba.

At our university, Minzu Daxue, an average day would entail Chinese language class from 8 a.m.-noon, followed by lunch in the underground café on campus, where we enjoyed a wonderful sub two-dollar meal. Then we would split up and study, go relax or play Ping-Pong with new friends, or explore the world's eighth largest city. One obvious yet crucial characteristic of our lives, vastly different from Whitworth, was that if we wanted to go somewhere, eat something, or really do anything at all, we had to use Chinese. This simple reality made the most basic tasks no longer basic. If we wanted to order food, buy groceries, or get a taxi, we had to overcome what sometimes seemed an insurmountable language barrier. Early on, we were especially dismayed at how onerous simple tasks were. That said, within a week or two of classes, we were shocked by our improvement.

Many of us had taken a year of Chinese before going on the study program, which certainly provided a head start, but what was astonishing to all was the speed at which we learned in this state of immersion. After two months the majority of us had taken a language pledge; while in some ways this felt like stepping off the plane in China for the first time all over again, it was also astonishingly helpful. It wasn't so much that we had great textbooks, or that our homework was extremely thorough, but rather that the progress came from the frequency at which we relied on Chinese to communicate.

The very simple experience of stopping by Ma and Ba's to pick up a snack and to try new grammar structures or vocabulary words, all the while being corrected and laughed at by our friends Ma and Ba, was one of the most influential language-learning experiences we had. This was simply because one cannot truly experience another language, or even understand the culture behind it, until relationships are created through it. Studying Mandarin from the source brought us more than just a basic proficiency; it brought us joy in learning.

Announcements and Upcoming Events

Cinco De Mayo Football (Soccer) Tournament
Friday, May 1, at 4 p.m.
The WLC department invites you to participate in the 5 X 5 football tournament on Omache Field. There will also be a short talk by Assistant Professor of History Rafaela Acevedo-Field, and the WLC Departmental Award winners will be announced. Refreshments will be provided. This event meets the cultural experience requirement for SN 102/111/202.

Class of 2015
Mark your calendars for the annual World Languages & Cultures Senior Breakfast on Saturday, May 17, from 9:30-11 a.m. Graduating seniors: invitations have been mailed. Stop by the front desk if you have not received your invitation. This event is for you and your family to enjoy on graduation weekend. Please stop by the WLC front desk to reserve your place or to purchase tickets for your guests.

See Yourself in Print!
The travel section of the University of California, Berkeley Comparative Literature Undergraduate Journal is currently looking for submissions! If you've traveled the world and have seen amazing sights, or even if you've traveled outside of your hometown, write about it, and get your writing published in our journal! We want to hear about your adventures, your discoveries, the people you've met, anything and everything you may have experienced while traveling. The deadline for submissions is March 20, 2015. Please go here for more information on how to submit your writing, and here to see travel writing we have already published. We look forward to reading your submissions.

Scholarship, Grant, Fellowship and Volunteer Information for Language Students

  • ISEP/STA travel scholarship drawing for $500. Deadline Aug. 1
  • Volunteer with América Solidaria

Also, be sure to check out information on scholarships, grants and fellowships posted on the WLC bulletin boards.

Tutoring: All Levels – FREE; Walk-Ins Are Always Welcome!
Review grammar, check homework, review for tests, get help with proofreading and editing papers, and practice your conversational abilities.

  • French: Every Sunday and Thursday, 8-9 p.m., in Westminster 113
  • German: Wednesday afternoons, 4:30-5:30 p.m., in Library 208 (across from Composition Commons)
  • Spanish: Five nights a week: Sun./Tues./Thurs. from 7-9 p.m.; Mon./Wed. from 7-8 p.m., in Library 208 (across from Composition Commons)

Scripture of the Month

English: John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?"


إنجيل يوحنا - الأصحاح 11 : 25-26
فرد يسوع: «أنا هو القيامة والحياة. من آمن بي، وإن مات فسيحيا.. ومن كان حيا وآمن بي فلن يموت إلى الأبد. أتؤمنين بهذا؟»

Chinese: 约翰福音 11:25-26
稣对她说:" 复活在我,生命也在我,相信我的人,虽然死了,也必复活。凡活着信我的人,必永远不死。你信这话吗?"

French: Jean 11:25-26
Je suis la résurrection et la vie, lui dit Jésus. Celui qui place toute sa *confiance en moi vivra, même s'il meurt. Et tout homme qui vit et croit en moi ne mourra jamais. Crois-tu cela?

German: Johannes 11.25-26
Jesus spricht zu ihr:  Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben.  Wer an mich glaubt, der wird leben, auch wenn er stirbt; und wer da lebt und glaubt an mich, der wird nimmermehr sterben.  Glaubst du das?

Greek: ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 11:25-26
εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς• ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή• ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. πιστεύεις τοῦτο.

Japanese: ジョン 11:2526

Spanish: Juan 11:25-26
Jesús le dijo: «Yo soy la resurrección y la vida; el que cree en mí, aunque esté muerto, vivirá. 26 Y todo aquel que vive y cree en mí, no morirá eternamente. ¿Crees esto?»

Swahili: Yohana 11:25-26
Yesu akamwambia, "Mimi ndiye ufufuo na uzima; mtu akiniamini mimi, hata akifa ataishi; na ye yote anayeishi akiwa ananiamini hatakufa kamwe. Je, unaamini haya?"

Vol. 21 Issue 5 April 2015

The Modern Linguist was birthed from the desire to unite those who study in the world languages discipline at Whitworth University. The newsletter features information, news and stories applicable to those involved in the program. Let it serve you well.

World Languages & Cultures Department
Westminster Hall
Whitworth University
Phone: 509.777.4765
Department Chair and Editor-in-Chief: Jennifer Brown
Editor: Stacey Moo
For student employment information, please contact Stacey Moo, program assistant, at 509.777.4765

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