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CSUF Offers Intensive Persian Studies Program
Applications accepted through April 20 for summer institute

April 3, 2007 :: No. 160

Beginning this summer, community members will have the opportunity to learn Persian through an intensive, six-week program at Cal State Fullerton.

The summer institute is offered as part of the California State University Strategic Language Initiative, which is designed to teach Persian, Arabic, Korean and Chinese so that Americans can work more effectively with the citizens of countries where those languages are spoken.

Cal State Fullerton is taking the lead in teaching Persian.

The summer institute is scheduled for June 25 through Aug. 3, with two tracks offered: one for beginners and one for “heritage” speakers, or students who already speak some Persian but are not considered fluent and may not read and write at an advanced level. Up to 15 students will be able to enroll.

Those interested in enrolling have until April 20 to apply for the Intensive Institute in Persian Language and Culture that will begin with the summer class. Admitted students will receive scholarship support that will cover virtually all expenses, said Thomas P. Klammer, dean of the CSUF College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The summer institute features all-day Monday-through-Friday instruction. Students will receive college credits and free campus housing. They also will be introduced to Persian meals and cultural activities and entertainment. In addition, members of the Iranian community will make presentations on Persian history, culture, music and dance.

During the academic year following the summer institute, the students will be offered more Persian studies classes, and the program will culminate with a study-abroad project the following summer. Expenses, including books, travel, and room and board will be paid for through scholarships.

Other campuses participating in the Strategic Language Initiative are: Cal State Long Beach, offering Chinese; Cal State San Bernardino, offering Arabic; Cal State Los Angeles, offering Korean; and Cal State Northridge, offering Russian.

“We are one of the few universities in the country to provide summer intensive courses in Persian,” said Ghazzal Dabiri, director of Persian studies at CSUF. “It is a great opportunity for students who wish to become more familiar with Persian language and culture since the program is free, and they will be immersed in the language and culture while enjoying Southern California.”

Cal State Fullerton has been offering classes in Persian for several years but the intensive summer course is designed for those who wish to learn the language more rapidly.

Global situations in the past few years have highlighted the critical need for expertise in the “strategic languages,” Dabiri said. For that reason, the U.S. departments of Defense and State have called for collaborative efforts to fill critical shortfalls in speakers of Persian, Korean, Arabic and Chinese.

The languages chosen as “strategic” are those that are critical not just for national security, diplomacy, intelligence-gathering and international business, but also for developing deeper levels of cross-cultural understanding.

The Strategic Language Initiative is a CSU system priority, and seven CSU campuses are sharing $1 million in second-year federal funding through a U.S. Department of Defense bill that U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) sponsored for the CSU. President George W. Bush signed the bill in September.

The consortium of seven CSU campuses received $950,000 in first-year funding to develop the program, hire teachers and gather materials needed to offer this summer’s courses.

“In addition to those studying the language for professional reasons, we anticipate attracting a wider audience for the program,” Klammer said. “Some students may have a Persian heritage and desire to advance their abilities in the family language. Others may be interested in gaining linguistic access to literary and philosophical masterpieces written in Persian.”

Added Dabiri: “With two tracks, we can teach a great deal in an immersion-type program like this. By the end of six weeks, beginners will be able to conduct a simple conversation, including asking for directions, the time and how to order food. They will learn how to read basic text, conjugate verbs and so on. Heritage speakers, depending on their levels, will have a better grasp of grammar, be able to read more complicated texts such as poetry, and gradually develop the ability to converse at a higher level.”

The program is not limited to Cal State Fullerton students, and individuals may enroll in the institute without being formally admitted to the university. Those 18 years and older are eligible.

“I am hopeful that students will be interested in learning Persian,” Dabiri said. “With such close proximity to a large Iranian population in Los Angeles, as well as in Irvine, it’s a wonderful language to consider. Another consideration for studying Persian is to better understand the situation in the Middle East. If you can read and understand Persian, you can see what’s being said in the media. This gives you special insight into how Iranians view the world.”

To register for the institute, call Dabiri at 657-278-3534 or visit the website A brochure is available at

Media Contacts:

Ghazzal Dabiri, Persian Studies, 657-278-3534,
Thomas P. Klammer, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, 657-278-3526,
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs, 657-278-7586 or

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