Japanese and Arabic language classes for students by students

Meeting the two students responsible for bringing these classes together.

For the past few years UW Tacoma’s Office of Global Affairs has offered informal language classes as an opportunity for students to learn another language. The program connects interested students with knowledgeable student teachers in order to instruct various languages. The classes that are currently being offered include Japanese and Arabic. 

Cindy Schaarschmidt, the director of Student Fellowships and Study Abroad at the Office of Global Affairs, took the time to answer some questions regarding the brief history along with the future of these courses. 

“The language lessons have been offered since fall 2017, initially funded by UW Tacoma’s Strategic Initiative Fund and now by SAFC,” Schaarschmidt said regarding the history of the program. “We started these informal lessons because we wanted to broaden opportunities for students to engage in global learning right here in Tacoma. We also knew that our students were interested in learning languages that weren’t offered for credit. We started with Korean and Arabic, and now offer Japanese and Arabic,”  

With programs like informal language classes, it is sometimes difficult to gauge how many students actually attend. Speaking on how well these courses are received, Schaarschmidt explained that students, faculty and staff adopting these courses have had generally positive results.

“Last academic year, over 100 students, staff and faculty attended these informal lessons. Some just once, others on a regular basis. I would say they’ve been well received.”

Finally, when asked about the future of the classes, and if students could expect a rotation of offered languages, Schaarshmidt had this to say: 

“We would love to add languages and have been approached by students with that very same question. Unfortunately, we only have funding and capacity for two languages at the moment.”

Links to the drop-in Zoom sessions for these classes are available in UWTs calendar on the website. Currently, the classes being offered are beginner’s Arabic and Japanese and the next classes will be held on Friday, Nov. 13 at 3:45 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively.