While many students spend their summers working, traveling, or just relaxing, a few choose to use those months studying the languages and cultures of distant lands right here in Madison. Beginning June 12 and continuing through August 7, 2010, part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus was transformed into a site for nearly 24/7 Middle Eastern language immersion, as the Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Immersion Program (APTIP) drew students from across the country for an intensive summer learning experience.
Since its origin in 2004 as an Arabic immersion program with a handful of attendees, followed by the addition of Persian in 2005, APTIP has grown significantly in both size and national recognition. Now in its second year housed at UW-Madison, the APTIP 2010 cohort of 65 students was the largest group yet. The program offered a range of course levels from beginning to advanced in Arabic and Persian, as well as new courses this year in beginning and intermediate Turkish. Each student received the equivalent of a full academic year of study in eight weeks.
Professors and native speakers from diverse social, cultural, and linguistic disciplines from UW and around the world were on hand to facilitate this unique learning experience. One of the key requirements of the program was that participants agreed to use their language of study exclusively for the full eight weeks, with the exception of Friday nights. Outside of the classroom, students and staff continued their language immersion through group housing and meals in the Lakeshore dorms, weeknight activities, movies, and tutoring sessions. Weekend excursions gave them opportunities to practice their language skills in new settings, such as the Dane County Farmer’s Market, the House on the Rock, and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. In addition to the formal language study, students attended “minicourses” on a range of topics covering music, politics, history, religion, literature, and cuisine of the Middle East, all conducted in their language of study.