Arabic Language Initiative

The Five College Arabic Language Initiative allows students at each of the five campuses to develop a concentration of study devoted to the Arabic language and culture. Students are able to work with faculty at all campuses to pursue their studies.

On This Page


Ahmad Alswaid teaches Arabic language courses at Amherst College and Mount Holyoke College.

Dr. May George holds a doctoral degree in education from the University of Arizona with a focus on bilingual education. After receiving her Ph.D., she has held two prestigious post-doctoral fellowships, an Andrew Mellon Fellowship and a Fredrick Douglas Fellow, to support her continued research on bilingual education.

Dr. George has more than 20 years of teaching experience in higher education nationally and internationally. She has also worked with the United Nation Missions in Kurdistan Iraq to educate women. Dr. George’s research interests center on curriculum theory design, classroom pedagogy, and language acquisition.

Mohamed ElSawi Hassan is a senior lecturer at the Dept. of Asian Languages and Civilizations at Amherst College. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Ain Shams University, Egypt in 2008.

His research interests focus on Systemic Functional Linguistics, Critical Discourse Analysis and Discourse theory. He is a contributing editor of Metamorphoses, the Journal of the Five College Faculty Seminar on Literary Translation. Recent translations include articles for Wasla magazine in Egypt and co-translating African Folklore: An Encyclopedia into Arabic.

Nahla Khalil received her PhD in literary studies in 2008. Before joining the Dept. of Comparative Literature at UMass Amherst, Nahla taught at Amherst College, Smith College and The Five College Center for the Study of World Languages. Nahla teaches language classes at all levels in addition to literature and culture classes. Nahla’s research interests include Arabic and Arab American literature, foreign language pedagogy, translation, cultural studies and women and minority studies.

John Weinert received his bachelor's degree from Bard College and went onto complete his master's degree in Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Texas at Austin.  He has worked as Director of Program Operations at the Subul Assalam Centre for the Arabic Language in Fez, Morocco, and in 2010, he was awarded a year-long fellowship from the Center for Arabic Study Abroad for advanced studies in Damascus, Syria. 

Before joining Smith College, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of New Haven, and the United States Naval Academy.  John's research interests include Arabic language pedagogy, dialects, code-switching, and shifting patterns of language use in Arabic-language media.


Note that if you don't see classes from all campuses currently listed, they will appear as the campuses release their course schedules for the semester. The five campuses release their schedules on different dates. Visit this page for specific dates.

Fall 2024 Arabic Courses

Subject Course # Sect # Course Title Instructor(s) Institution Meeting Times
ARAB 101 01 First-Year Arabic I Ahmad Alswaid Amherst College M/W/F | 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM
ARAB 201 01 Second-Year Arabic I Mohamed Hassan Amherst College M/W/F | 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM
ARAB 301 01 Third-Year Arabic I Ahmad Alswaid Amherst College M/W/F | 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM
ARAB 401 01 Media Arabic Mohamed Hassan Amherst College M/W | 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM
ASIAN 130 01 First Year Arabic I John Weinert Mount Holyoke College MWF 01:45PM-03:00PM
ARA 100 01 Elementary Arabic I John O. Weinert Smith College M W F 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM
ARA 100 02 Elementary Arabic I John O. Weinert Smith College M W F 9:25 AM - 10:40 AM
ARA 200 01 Intermediate Arabic I May George Smith College M W F 9:25 AM - 10:40 AM
ARA 300 01 Advanced Arabic I May George Smith College M W F 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM
ARABIC 101 01 Elemntr Four-Skilled Arabic I Nahla Khalil UMass Amherst TU TH 11:30AM 12:20PM; M W F 11:15AM 12:05PM
ARABIC 201 01 Intrmd Four-Skilled Arabic I Nahla Khalil UMass Amherst TU TH 10:00AM 10:50AM; M W F 10:10AM 11:00AM

Contact Us

Program Director

Steven Heydemann, Professor in Middle East Studies, Smith College

Five College Staff Liaison

Ray Rennard, Director of Academic Programs