Anna Brewer, 19, sits in the front of the classroom, watching closely as professor Atallah Alroud writes a new letter of the Arabic alphabet on the white board. She is the first to raise her hand and repeat after Alroud as he introduces students to an unfamiliar sound — for which, he says, English has no equivalent.

Brewer says she spends about six hours a week studying the new language, but she isn’t doing it just for fun. Like many students in the Bridgewater State College classroom, she has a more practical goal in mind: “I spoke with an FBI special agent, and they said if I could speak Arabic, I’d be more likely to be hired by the bureau.”

Brewer is one of more than a handful of local students who have been drawn to the study of Arabic, now offered at an increasing number of state and community colleges around the state.

In recent years, smaller private colleges and even state and community colleges have begun teaching the language, which previously was offered only at large universities, according to William Granara, the director of Arabic Studies at Harvard University.

“What you’re seeing now,” he said, “is the demand for Arabic has gone beyond the elite universities and has progressed to the small private universities and state universities.

“All of a sudden in the post-9/11 world, Arabic could be a key to getting a good job.”


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