Within the rankings of world languages, Arabic takes a prominent place, being the fifth most-spoken language in the world (Lane, 2016). Despite the surge of concern in modern media with relations in the Middle East, particularly in Arab-populated countries, very little focus has been put on improving enrollment in Arabic programs in the United States, and in particular in the Midwest. At Purdue University, enrollment in Arabic language courses have only been low and no effort has been made on the part of the university or the department to understand this trend from more than a purely statistical analysis of enrollment numbers (Purdue, 2016). In the present study, freshman and sophomore perceptions of an undergraduate Arabic program at Purdue University were evaluated with specific regards to the relationship between enrollment and motivations students had for enrolling or not enrolling in the program’s courses. Despite the participation of only one student enrolled in Arabic language courses at the university, factors found that significantly affected student enrollment into foreign language courses included student perceptions about personal abilities and the foreign language departments themselves, student perceptions about the availability of jobs in their field which required the use of a foreign language and the requirement or non-requirement of foreign language courses in student plans of study. Results were discussed in terms of student responses to qualitative survey, whose responses are described and characterized quantitatively.

Date of this Version



Department of Technology, Leadership and Innovation

Department Head

Ragu Athinarayanan

Month of Graduation



Master of Science

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

Dr. Linda Naimi

Committee Member 1

Dr. Ahmed Idrissi Alami

Committee Member 2

Dr. James Mohler