Supporting Arabic Teachers in the Midwest: Northwestern University and QFI Partner to Support Local Arabic Educators


December 5, 2016, CHICAGO –– Qatar Foundation International (QFI) and Northwestern’s Middle East and North African Studies Program (MENA) are partnering to expand the Chicago Arabic Teachers’ Council.

Since 2012, QFI has supported Arabic Teachers’ Councils in Washington D.C., Michigan, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. The councils provides a forum for Arabic teachers to network, collaborate, and share innovative approaches to teaching, supporting educators and their communities.

Northwestern’s MENA program offers Modern Standard Arabic students up to their fifth year, as well as dedicated courses in three regional dialects and media Arabic.

“We are delighted to continue supporting the Chicago-area Arabic Teachers’ Council with a new partner, Northwestern University’s MENA Program. The Council has been active since 2013, and our nationwide network has reached over 1100 members,” said QFI Executive Director Maggie Mitchell Salem. “We’re proud of the existing ties to Northwestern University’s Doha, Qatar campus in Education City, and look forward to extending our partnership to include Northwestern’s MENA program in Chicago. We look forward to collaborating with Northwestern University and to continuing the active teacher participation of the past three years with community-driven programs.”

The Chicago Arabic Teachers’ council serves the needs of K-16 Arabic language teachers and administrators throughout Chicago, including public, private, and religious school teachers. It seeks to bridge the gap between elementary and university professors. The council is focused on professional development, curricular enhancement, community outreach, and certification of Arabic education.

“Arabic is taught to more than 3,000 students in Chicago Public Schools, from Volta Elementary School on the north side to Lindblom Math and Science Academy High School on the south side, a remarkable achievement in itself. Add to that the many vibrant private schools and weekend programs where Arabic is taught and Chicago has one of the most dynamic, diverse, and substantial bodies of young Arabic learners in the country,” said Brian Edwards, Crown Professor in Middle East Studies, Director of Northwestern’s MENA Program and chair of the Chicago Arabic Teachers’ Council. “As a university program committed both to Arabic language education and public outreach to the Chicago area, MENA is thrilled to have been selected to host the Chicago Arabic Teachers’ Council.”

“Language is an area where misunderstanding flourishes, and educating young Chicagoans in this beautiful, complex, and widely used global language prepares our next generation for the challenges and opportunities of the next generation,” Edwards continued. “MENA is thrilled to work with the dedicated and talented teachers from CPS and Chicago’s private and weekend schools to help facilitate the best practices and dynamic new approaches to language instruction. Together we hope to think of Arabic education as reaching from Kindergarten through elementary and high school and beyond.”

The Chicago Arabic Teachers’ Council will also focus on expanding collaboration between student communities at the K-16 level, providing opportunities for Arabic language students to participate and benefit from the Teachers’ Council, and communication with native speakers through video conferencing and digital media.

To learn more about QFI’s Arabic Teachers’ Councils, watch