Meet our new faculty members in Asian Studies and learn more about their background and passions! In this Faculty Spotlight, we introduce you to Dr. Nesrine Basheer, the first faculty member of our new Arabic Language Program. She shares with us her longtime love of helping students achieve language proficiency, her goals for teaching Arabic, and the exciting new courses she’s spearheading this year.
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Could you tell us a little about your academic background prior to joining UBC Department of Asian Studies? What brought you to Asian Studies?
I’ve always loved languages, linguistics, and communication. My formative training was in teaching English as a foreign language, where I saw how effective communicative language teaching was in helping students achieve language proficiency. My experience as an English teacher motivated me to further my studies in applied linguistics and to transfer my knowledge and skills to the teaching of my native language, Arabic. My goal was to join the numerous researchers and practitioners who have been modernizing the teaching of Arabic at the K-12 and university levels.
In 2009, I travelled to the USA as a Fulbright Scholar to pursue an MA in applied linguistics at Teachers College, Columbia University. I then joined the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin to complete my doctorate in Arabic applied linguistics. At UT Austin, I was fortunate to also teach in the Arabic language program, develop my teaching skills, and enjoy invaluable mentorship.
The decision to join the Department of Asian Studies at UBC was an easy one for me. I am truly passionate about Arabic language and cultures, and starting the first Arabic program under a strong department at a reputable university seemed like the ideal context to share my passion and enrich the study of Arabic in Canada.
What inspires you to teach?
My students. They inspire me to stay up -to -date with recent trends in pedagogy, conduct research, experiment with new techniques, and design fun, challenging lessons. The best moment of my day is whenever students are so engaged in an activity or a discussion that they forget they are speaking Arabic.
Can you tell us what you will be teaching in the UBC Department of Asian Studies?
I will be teaching two beginner (ARBM 101/102) and two intermediate (ARBM 201/202) Arabic language courses where students can develop linguistic and cultural competence in both spoken and written Arabic. I am also offering two courses in English. In ASIA 310D we examine the contemporary political, social, economic, and cultural history of the Arab world through a survey of Arab film masterpieces. And in ASIA 380, we analyze and critique 20th and 21st century Modern Arabic literature emerging from the Middle East and North Africa.
Offered in 2022/23 Winter Session:
What do you want students to gain out of your courses?
A more developed curiosity and a deeper understanding of how diverse and rich the Arabic-speaking world is. An ability to ask better questions. A richer sense of self. And of course, a solid proficiency in Arabic.
What are some other interests you enjoy pursuing outside of your work?
I love history, stories, and music. I travel to an ancient city whenever I can, collect a mental archive of narratives and life stories wherever I go, and continue to be an amateur accordionist.