Arabic at Sacred Heart Greenwich

Upper School students at Sacred Heart Greenwich have the option to take classes in either Spanish, French, Latin, Chinese, or Arabic. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of students who take Arabic courses as interest in this culturally diverse and complex language grows. From Skype calls with Egyptian students to participating in the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (COLT) Poetry Recitation Contest, Upper School students study Arabic and learn about the language and cultures of numerous Arabic-speaking countries.
Over 185 million people worldwide speak Arabic, a Semitic language of the Middle East, according to encyclopedia.comThe Pew Research Center recently discovered that Arabic is the fastest growing language in the United States, according to There are also 60 Arabic-speaking countries, including Israel, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, making it the second most widely-spoken language in the world.

Georgia Ferguson ’20

Sophomore Kate Murray began taking Arabic classes at Sacred Heart after her sister, Sacred Heart alumna Alex Murray ’12, inspired her to take on the new challenge. Prior to participating in Arabic classes, Kate took French for four years until she switched to Arabic her freshman year. 
“Although Arabic is not the most popular language course taken at Sacred Heart, students each year join the Arabic program with the hopes of learning an exciting and difficult language to broaden their academic skills in and outside the classroom,” Kate said. 
Sacred Heart’s Arabic program also offers students the opportunity to travel abroad to Morocco to expand their vocabulary and immerse themselves in the culture which they are studying. Sacred Heart alumna Lindsay Ofori ’17 participated in the program over her summer break and, as a result, went from a beginner’s Arabic course to an advanced course during her senior year.
Studying Arabic at Sacred Heart has shown me a new way to approach language altogether. More specifically, in spending a great amount of time learning the new alphabet, sounds, and grammar structures quite different from those of typical Romance languages, I was able to appreciate language learning as an overall activity and the intricacies of intonations and sounds,” Lindsay said. 

Lindsay Ofori ’17 won first place at the COLT language competition in 2016. Georgia Ferguson ’20

Not only does the Arabic program offer an exchange opportunity, but all of the Arabic courses regularly conduct Skype calls with students at the Collège du Sacré-Coeur de Ghamra, the Sacred Heart network school in Cairo, Egypt. These monthly Skype calls allow students in Greenwich to have complex conversations with other Sacred Heart students living across the globe.
“I enjoy the sounds and pronunciation of Arabic because it is so different and challenging in comparison to French and English,” Lindsay said. “In order to sound more like a native speaker, students studying Arabic must spend a great deal of time trying to master these sounds.” 
The Connecticut Council of Language and Teachers is a non-profit organization that promotes the learning of world languages and cultures. COLT sponsors an annual foreign language poetry recitation competition, and, each year, Sacred Heart students prepare for the competition by memorizing and reciting a poem in their world language class. Upper School Arabic and French Teacher Ms. Souad Malih helps her Arabic students prepare for the competition with weekly practices. 
“I think Ms. Malih does a fantastic job with this aspect of Arabic-Language-learning since she requires first-year students to memorize and recite a poem,” Lindsay said. “This part of the course was my favorite and, with her help and guidance, I was able to receive first place in Arabic I during my junior year and first place in Arabic III during my senior year at the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers Poetry Recitation Contest.” 
Arabic allows students to deepen their knowledge about the world around them. Lindsay emphasized the idea that learning to communicate with new people and understanding complex ideas regarding Arabic culture is an opportunity in itself
“I would encourage all students to consider taking Arabic,” Lindsay said, “because it is an opportunity that most students in the U.S. do not have exposure to until they reach university.”