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Arabic lessons offered to Alle-Kiski Valley residents

For the second time in less than a year, Zineb Outnouna will offer a free introduction to the language of the Arab world.

A native of Morocco, Outnouna will spend eight weeks teaching Arabic in a group setting to anyone who has an interest. She offered a similar course last year, attracting 17 area residents who met once per week in the fall.

The executive director of Atlas Dreams Languages, Outnouna will use the course to build a client list. She also teaches French and Spanish.

But there's more to it than simply generating business, Outnouna said.

Arab culture and the Arabic language are becoming more "global," and she hopes to introduce those to Alle-Kiski Valley residents.

Outnouna, 35, arrived in the United States in 1996, having taken a job at Walt Disney World. Now living in Springdale, she works as an auditor in Pittsburgh in addition to running Atlas Dreams Languages.

Borough resident Sarah Rodden, 19, decided after taking Outnouna's introductory course that she wanted to continue with the language, hoping it will make her marketable as a translator after she graduates from college.

"It should be great for job opportunities," Rodden said on Monday during a brief break in a tutoring session with Outnouna at Springdale Free Public Library. "It will be a nice asset to have."

During the introductory session, Rodden and the other students learned the alphabet and got acquainted with reading from right to left. Now, Rodden, a French major at Penn State New Kensington, is translating short paragraphs.

Borough residents Kathleen and Colleen Marsili, 11 and 10 respectively, said they took an interest in Arabic in large part because their dad, Jim Marsili, used to live in Saudi Arabia.

"We thought it would be a good idea to learn this language," Kathleen said.

All indications are that she and her sister are learning it at a rapid pace. Outnouna said last night she was impressed with the girls' ability to count in Arabic and their mastery of short phrases.

As for the difficulty in learning the language, Rodden said, "It seems intimidating, but it's doable."

To learn more

Zineb Outnouna, a native of Morocco, will teach Arabic in a group session for free over eight weeks at Springdale Free Public Library. The next classes will begin July 9. For more information, contact the library at 724-274-9729 or Atlas Dream Languages at 412-537-1525. You can also e-mail Outnouna.

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