STARTALK: Isaac's Story

              Real ability in Arabic opens doors--and more and more students are starting their study of the language and culture earlier. For example, Isaac, then a high school student from Orem, Utah, enrolled in Brigham Young University's 2007 STARTALK intensive summer Arabic camp and continued his studies during the 2007/8 academic year with Arabic Without Walls (a distance-learning course developed by NMELRC and U.C.-Berkeley). During the summer of 2008, he studied in Cairo on a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship. As a result of a lot of hard work and favorable learning conditions, Isaac made impressive gains and was funded to study in Jordan during the summer of 2009 (the first high school student ever admitted to BYU’s intensive Arabic program). That August, at the ripe age of 18, he certified as an Advanced-level speaker and correctly answered every Advanced-level item on the NMELRC Reading Proficiency Test (only three of the forty-one BYU students with whom he studied did this well). Two weeks later he began BYU’s Middle East Studies/Arabic major at a level of proficiency that many such majors aspire to reach by the time they graduate.