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Black Tie International Magazine - Friends of Black Tie:Professor Soukkary



LaGuardia Community College  Professor
Teaches Arabic Through Song


Professor Soukkary

Professor Soukkary


LaGuardia Professor Jack Gantzer

LaGuardia Professor Jack Gantzer



LaGuardia Professor Mabel Gonzalez

LaGuardia Professor Mabel Gonzalez


Students in the play

Students in the play


Students in the play

Students in the play


 - left: Professors Soukkary, Gantzer, Gonzalez and Vice President Katopes

NYU Professor Art Hughes in the front row


 - left: Professors Soukkary, Gantzer, Gonzalez and Vice President Katopes

Professor Soukkary and Peter Katopes, Vice President for
Academic Affairs



 - left: Professors Soukkary, Gantzer, Gonzalez and Vice President Katopes

 Professors Soukkary, Gantzer, Gonzalez and Vice President Katopes

Long Island City, NY—February 25, 2010--LaGuardia Community College has launched a unique method of language teaching that has students learning Arabic solely through song.
Professor Sohair Soukkary, of the Education and Language Acquisition Department who is teaching this course, explained that this unique method combines music and song with the structuralist approach to language teaching.  Through this method, the basic patterns of a language are carefully graded from the simple to the complex.
“This approach taps into the right side of the brain, which deals with the arts, bypassing the interference with the mother tongue, which is entrenched in the left side of the brain,” she said.
For six weeks, the students, the majority of whom were not of Arabic descent, learned the language by learning simple songs.  Through this method, the students gained an understanding of basic structure and were able to fluently communicate in Arabic.
To demonstrate their proficiency, the students put on an original end-of-the- semester play, which was performed for the college community.  The play’s script contained the vocabulary and basic sentence structures based on the songs the students learned in class. 
“I was struck by the ease and comfort in which the students performed,” said Peter Katopes, Vice President for Academic Affairs. 
Dr. Katopes said that one of the important initiatives at LaGuardia is the teaching of modern languages.  “As a public institution we understand the importance of training people to speak Arabic,” he said.  “The American job market is in dire need of all kinds of professionals who are proficient in Arabic.  I hope our students will be encouraged to go into public service where Arabic will be useful.”
Along with Arabic, the Language Acquisition Department offers courses in American Sign Language, Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.
According to Professor Jack Gantzer, the department chairperson, the department also offers weekend language courses.  The 12-session basic-language classes are taught in a combination of in-class lessons that are conducted by a qualified professors, and online exercises.  Classes can be taken for college credit or non-credit. For more information, visit
                                                         •     •     •     •
Located in Long Island City, Queens in New York City, LaGuardia Community College, part of the City University of New York, is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges. Founded in 1971, the College is recognized as an innovator in educating students who are under prepared for college work and/or are not primary English speakers. A catalyst for development in western Queens and beyond, LaGuardia serves New Yorkers and immigrants from 163 countries through over 50 majors and certificate programs, enabling career advancement and transfer to four-year colleges at twice the national average. Visit  to learn more.

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