Arabic major or minor at VMI

stevehorse

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Hi, first off if something regarding this has already been posted just let me know.

I have been offered a conditional appointment to VMI, and I am just wondering a little bit about the Arabic program there. No matter where I go, I definitely want to major or minor in Arabic. I am just curious as to how competitive it is to get a spot in the Arabic program at VMI. I know on the sheet that is supposed to be turned in to reserve a spot, it asks language preference #1, and #2. What would my chances be of being able to take Arabic. I'm not really sure how it works at VMI so my questions could be incoherent, but I could use any insight from those of you who know whats up. Thanks.
 

SF49ers

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I know nothing about the arabic program at VMI. I do know that arabic is a tough language. If you have no experience with the language, then you must be disciplined in your studying habits, and you must have a good teacher. I took Arabic 1001 at a local community college last semester. I had a bad teacher, and I only did well in the class because I worked hard. I imagine that the VMI environment would be conducive to learning a tough foreign language though. If no one here can answer your question, I would just e-mail the department/program head. Good luck to you.
 

RahVaMil2009

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You're in luck. :smile: Although my primary language in Spanish, I know the Modern Languages & Cultures (MC) Department Head very well. The MC Department here is excellent.

We have three full-time professors (two from Morocco, one from the US), as well as a part-time tutor (also from Morocco). The two Moroccan full-time professors generally go back home for the summer, and conduct a summer abroad program for cadets who are interested in going to summer school overseas.

Arabic is a very difficult language to master, but our Arabic program is very strong. A number of students from Washington & Lee University (the civilian school literally right next to us) come over here for Arabic classes. Between this and the Science & Security minor, VMI has really caught the attention of the DOD and other federal agencies over the past couple of years. To give you an idea, here's a direct copy/paste on a couple of the study abroad scholarships available to VMI cadets who are studying Arabic:

The State Department Grant for Study in the Middle East and North Africa: VMI has received a grant from the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs which will provide two $6000 study abroad scholarships per semester, beginning Spring Semester 2007. The purpose of the grant is to provide financial assistance so that cadets may go abroad with the goal of increasing mutual understanding between Americans and the people of the Middle East and North Africa.

Also:
DOD ROTC Arabic Scholarship: VMI has received a grant from the Department of Defense to increase the Arabic language proficiency of commissioning cadets. One element of the program is to provide scholarships to commissioning cadets who will study Arabic during the summer. There are three different categories of scholarships: 1. Five $5000 scholarships for cadets from any major to participate in the VMI Morocco program. 2. Five $5000 scholarships for science/engineering majors to participate in the VMI Morocco program or any other approved Arabic language program. 3. Two $6000 scholarships for cadets from any major to participate in a US based Arabic language program.

If you're serious about learning Arabic, this is a great place to learn it. It's very common for cadets to double major in a language and International Studies or History. It's more work, but the fields are very closely related, so it will help broaden your understanding of the world in general.

For more specific questions about the Arabic major, I would recommend contacting the Modern Languages & Cultures Department Head, COL Kathleen Bulger-Barnett (Bulger-BarnettKD @ vmi.edu) and/or CPT Ruth Rowe (RoweRE @ vmi.edu), one of the Arabic professors.

Good luck,

Jackie M. Briski '09
First Class Private
 

stevehorse

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Thank you very much for the thorough and timely responses. Do you start work on your major/minor your Rat year?
 

RahVaMil2009

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As a Modern Languages & Cultures major (regardless of language), you'll take a language course from the very beginning. You can take placement tests for any language to test out of the 100-level. If you've taken three years or more of the language while in high school, you have to start in -201 regardless of how great or terrible your profi was.

Here's what your first semester would look like:

Biology/Chemistry/Physics (you get to choose) - 4 credits (includes lab)
English Composition I - 3 credits
World History - 3 credits
Introduction to Probability & Statistics - 3 credits
ROTC - 1 credit
Arabic 101 - 3 hours
Total: 17 credit hours

For more information on the curriculum for the Arabic major (and all other majors), check out the VMI course curriculum: http://www.vmi.edu/Academics.aspx?id=54&rsm=35863&ekmensel=fb5d653b_14_0_54_1.

Keep the questions comin'. The academics at VMI (especially the liberal arts) absolutely rock!

Jackie M. Briski '09
First Class Private
 

Annette

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Have you heard anything about Chinese being offered as a major next year?
 

RahVaMil2009

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I hadn't heard anything about Chinese, so I emailed the Department Head. She informed me that they are not currently planning to add a Chinese program, but they will certainly accept transfer credits from other schools. This means you could do an intensive summer program (or something similar) and receive credit for it at VMI.

W&L has a Chinese language program, and just like their students come here for Arabic, we can go there for Chinese. However, this process is very complicated. You can't do it as a rat. It's hard to manage because our class schedule is very regimented and theirs is structured differently. It is possible, but it's very hard to do.

For a minor in Chinese, you would need nine credit hours (3 classes) at the 300-level and three credit hours (1 class) at the 400-level. You could also do the split option, where you choose two languages: Chinese and a language that's offered at VMI. Let's say Japanese. You could get a minor in Modern Languages - Japanese and Chinese. This would consist of two 300-level Japanese classes and two 200-level Chinese classes. Obviously those could be switched up; I just used that as an example since it would be easiest to have your main language be one that's offered here.

Again, summer school (and summer abroad programs!) could very well be the answer you're looking for. They were planning on offering a summer abroad trip to China this year, but it got cut due to lack of interest. The summer abroad program in Japan is very popular, and I haven't heard many (if any, actually) negative reports about it from cadets I know who have gone on it.

A major would be far more complex, although you could do a similar split language option that would just require more classes of both languages. If you have any other questions, COL Bulger-Barnett said to shoot her an email and she'd be happy to help you out.

-JMB
 

Annette

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Jackie, Thank you for all the great info. Wish VMI or Citadel had chinese as a major.
 

SF49ers

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I was bummed about The Citadel's language offerings as well. They don't have any arabic, but they do offer an East Asian Studies minor. From what i understand, you would be able to take Chinese, and then take some east asian history & poli sci classes to get the minor. It's not a major, but I suppose that's the drawback of a smaller school.

Of course, there are a number of colleges nearby in Charleston, including the College of Charleston. I've heard of cadets being able to take classes there. The CoC also has a similar minor, but they also have more electives (literature, religion, art, etc). Between El Cid and the CoC there are plenty of applicable classes, so perhaps you could work out something. If you really wanted to learn chinese, and were interested in The Citadel, I think you should at least e-mail the modern languages department head.
 

RahVaMil2009

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I agree completely. Contacting the Department Head of any major you're considering is always a good plan. Hey, you never know until you ask... and it's always useful to have a good relationship with your Department Head. Academic connections go a long, long way.

Something I forgot to mention before is that you should always get pre-approval for credits you want to transfer in. While you'd get the benefit of learning a learning a language not offered by your school of choice, you would miss out on the benefit of getting credit for it through your school.

Also, beware of college schedules. Sometimes it's a pain to go from quarters to semesters and vice versa.
 

stevehorse

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So if I put Arabic down as my #1 language preference, am I guaranteed to get it or is it pretty competitive?
 

RahVaMil2009

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You're pretty much guaranteed a spot. I've never heard of an incoming rat not receiving their first choice for a language class, although I'm sure it has happened in the past.

On Matriculation Day, you'll spend all morning talking with everyone from the Institute Physician to the Band Director. One of the stops along the way will be your academic department and they'll confirm your class schedule. This was when I switched from AR-101 to SP-101 my rat year.

You'll also meet with you academic advisor before classes start, just in case you decide at the last minute you want to change something around.
 

stevehorse

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Okay thanks for the info. At VMI how is the academic day structured? Is it like high school where you go to each class one after another? Or do you only have certain classes certain days, and the rest of the time is spent studying? I'm just curious how the academic class schedules there are different than from regular colleges.
 

Gcokeley

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RahVaMil2009:

Outstanding answers. I have enjoyed reading this thread.
 

RahVaMil2009

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Okay thanks for the info. At VMI how is the academic day structured? Is it like high school where you go to each class one after another? Or do you only have certain classes certain days, and the rest of the time is spent studying? I'm just curious how the academic class schedules there are different than from regular colleges.

Sorry, didn't see this question 'til now.

They've changed the daily schedule at least four times since I matriculated in Fall '05, including a major overhaul of the class schedule this semester, so bear with me on this one. :smile:

M/W/F classes are scheduled from 0800-0850, 0900-0950, 1000-1050, 1300-1350, 1400-1450 and 1500-1550. In general, only labs that take up multiple CPs (class periods) will be scheduled to spill over into the 1500-1550 time slot.

1100-1215 is designated duty time. On Mondays it's Dean's Training Time (DTT), which is generally used for academic departmental meetings, Corps speakers, meetings with professors or makeup classes on the rare occasion that a professor has to cancel a class for some reason. If a cadet has no academic duty during this time, it's used for CQ (Call to Quarters), meaning cadets can study, eat lunch or take care of any administrative business they may have.

On Wednesdays it's Commandant's Training Time (CTT) which is almost always some type of inspection, either uniform or formal room. However, it can also be Company Commander's Time (meaning each company forms up in a designated company room for a briefing from their CO) or other briefings as designated by the Commandant of Cadets.

Fridays are a little bit different. We have Physical Training Time (PTT) during this time slot, so they bump afternoon classes back to 1315-1405, 1415-1505 and 1515-1605 (again, only for labs). This is to allow ample time for post-PTT hygiene and lunch. Yes, it's very confusing. But it seems to work well enough, I guess.

T/Th classes have a similar CP schedule, only the classes are an hour and 15 mins instead of 50 mins, so we end up with the same number of classroom hours as the M/W/F classes at the end of the semester. The CP schedule is as follows: 0800-0915, 0925-1040, 1050-1205, 1300-1415, 1425-1540. That last CP may or may not be the same deal as the 1500-1550 M/W/F one, I'm honestly not sure.

Basically, it's just like any other college/university in that you create your own schedule within these time periods. The main difference is that you'll never have a class scheduled during evening hours. That, and 8 o'clock classes are nothing to complain about since you have to be up for formation at 0700 anyway. :smile: It usually requires a considerable amount of juggling to make sure you stay on track to graduate, but this is why we have academic advisors.

In fact, your ac advisor will handle the scheduling of your fall semester classes for you. You'll receive your class schedule in one of the meetings you'll have with your ac advisor prior to the first day of classes. When it comes time to pre-register for spring classes, you'll work very closely with your ac advisor to ensure you know how to do it all.

Here's my class schedule for this semester:

Monday
0800-0850: PE-300
0900-0950: BI-218
1100-1215: DTT
1300-1350: SP-425

Tuesday
0925-1040: SP-426
1050-1140: Leadership Lab
1300-1415: PO-342

Wednesday
0800-0850: PE-300
0900-0950: BI-218
1100-1215: CTT
1300-1350: SP-425
1405-1440: PE-101

Thursday
0925-1040: SP-426
1050-1140: Army ROTC lecture
1300-1415: PO-342

Friday
0900-0950: BI-218
1000-1050: PE-411
1100-1215: PTT
1315-1405: SP-425

I'm also doing an Independent Research Project, for a total of 19 credit hours. I'm repeating a couple of PE classes because I didn't like the grade I got before. The nice thing about VMI is that if you repeat a course, the grade you get the second time around replaces the grade you got the first time (unless you somehow manage to get a lower grade the second time 'round). Replacing the D I got in first semester rat statistics with a B did wonders for my cumulative GPA, as did replacing the D in Techniques of Computer Analysis (the bane of every IS major's existence!) with a B.

Anyway, I hope this answers your questions thoroughly enough. :smile:

-JMB
 
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