Five College Consortium

Five College Arabic Language Initiative

Arabic Language Initiative Faculty

Faculty by Campus:

Amherst College

Mohamed ElSawi Hassan is a senior lecturer at the Dept. of Asian Languages and Civilizations at Amherst College and Director of the Five College Arabic Language Program. 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.

Hampshire College

Brahim Oulbeid received his B.A. degree in English Language and Literature, along with Arabic and French teaching certificates, in Morocco. He completed his master’s degree in Education and in Teaching French from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Brahim is currently a PhD Candidate under the Language, Literacy and Culture concentration at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst College of Education. Prior to joining the Five College Arabic Initiative, Brahim taught Arabic and French in Morocco, UMass Amherst, and Westfield State University. He has also taught intensive Arabic courses through the STARTALK Arabic Summer Academies at the United States Naval Academy and in Boston.

Brahim’s research interests include Second Language Pedagogy, Bilingual Education, and Language, Culture and Identity. His recent publication is titled: Arabic language teaching in the U.S.: Two Arabic language users’ views on culture and self-positioning as teachers.

Mt. Holyoke College

Prior to joining Mount Holyoke, Heba Arafah worked with the United National High Commission on Refugees in Amman, Jordan as a resettlement interviewer, interpreter, and translator.

Heba Arafah taught at Smith College after receiving a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) fellowship  at the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages. She has also been an active Fulbright alumna, assisting in the selection process for the FLTA program with the Jordan-United States Binational Fulbright Commission.

At Mount Holyoke, Heba specializes in teaching Modern Standard Arabic courses and examining oral proficiency in Levantine Arabic. In her first year at Mount Holyoke College, she was voted most popular language lecturer. Her students speak highly of her approach to language teaching as well as her friendly nature and dedication to their learning of Arabic. Heba is also directing the language assistant program at Mount Holyoke College. 

Heba specializes in foreign language acquisition, socio-phonetic/ linguistics, translation  and interpretation, as well as refugee resettlement and protection.

Smith College


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.


    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.


    Nahla Khalilpeople-pics 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.