Lincoln High School Receives STARTALK Grant to Expand Summer Arabic Program

Lincoln High School is the recipient of a $100,000 grant from STARTALK which will allow the school to expand its offerings of the Arabic language during the summer and enable high school students to learn more about the Arabic speaking world.

Lincoln High School is the only school in Iowa to offer an Arabic language course. This is the third consecutive year they have been awarded this funding from STARTALK. This summer, however, the course is open to all Des Moines high school students.

STARTALK is the newest of the component programs of the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) announced by former President Bush in January of 2006. The initiative seeks to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important world languages that are not now widely taught in the US.

This summer’s intensive course in Arabic instruction will be held June 6-28, Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Students who complete the course will earn one semester of high school credit. Visit the Lincoln High School web site to download an application.

Lincoln High School has offered a year-long Arabic course since the 2011-2012 school year. A summer Arabic course was offered in 2011 and 2012 for 50 students. This summer the grant funds will allow 100 students to take the class.

Students taking this summer’s Arabic class will be assigned according to their level of experience with the language: beginners, prior instruction, and native speakers. The instructors are native speakers from Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, Palestine, and Jordan.

Lincoln High School foreign language instructors Hicham Jennane and Mary Stimmel started the Arabic program at the school. According to Stimmel, there are several positive outcomes for the students taking the course.

“Students learn they can learn something really hard and still have fun,” said Stimmel. “Arabic is a critical language according to the US government. We have found that many students who take Arabic in the summer also enroll in another language. In addition, students make friends with others outside their peer group and their attendance increased while the number of tardies decreased.”

STARTALK’s mission is to increase the number of Americans learning, speaking, and teaching critical need foreign languages by offering students (K–16) and teachers of these languages creative and engaging summer experiences that strive to exemplify best practices in language education and in language teacher development, forming an extensive community of practice that seeks continuous improvement in such criteria as outcomes-driven program design, standards-based curriculum planning, learner-centered approaches, excellence in selection and development of materials, and meaningful assessment of outcomes. For more information, go to