KSU Plans To Start Courses In Asian And African Languages

RIYADH: King Saud University (KSU) has announced plans to start courses in Chinese, Urdu, Swahili and Hausa. The university’s College of Language and Translation (COLT), which has emerged as the largest language teaching facility of its kind in the Middle East, has also geared itself to start three postgraduate programs in French, English linguistics and translation.

“Chinese as a language will be taught from the next academic year,” said Saad H. Al-Hashash, the dean of COLT.

He said COLT’s ambitious expansion program, both in terms of infrastructure as well as in terms of teaching and hiring faculties, would not be hampered by the global economic recession. “We have sufficient funds,” he said.

He pointed out that the college would expand its activities since it was shifting to a multimillion-riyal newly built building of its own. The new building has smart classrooms, which are now being equipped with new gadgets, including audio-visual aids, Internet and Intranet facilities.

COLT currently has an enrollment of over 2,000 students. More than 400 women students are pursuing courses in 10 different languages at the center.

The European languages currently being taught include English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Russian. As for Asian languages, Persian, Japanese, Turkish and Hebrew are taught.

Al-Hashash said the translation skills in these languages would open up numerous job opportunities for Saudis. “There is an acute shortage of translators and interpreters in ministries and government departments, while interpreters are also needed in great numbers during Haj,” he said.

Al-Hashash said COLT had also undertaken a project under which it sends students abroad for language proficiency.

“We have already sent some 30 students to France and have finalized plans to send 30 students to Spain,” he said.

“With new employment avenues opening up in the Kingdom, Saudi students are also being groomed for a career in diplomacy, tourism promotion and pilgrim guidance,” he said.

To this end, Al-Hashash noted the recent appointment of Faisal Mohanna and Hamid Al-Fattah as cultural attaches at Saudi embassies in Canada and Pakistan respectively.

Al-Hashash said the need for translation and interpretation had also gained importance in the context of international conferences that take place in the Kingdom as well as to engage in dialogue with non-Muslims to clarify misconceptions about Islam.

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