Arabic Flagship Program
Arabic Flagship Program

Meet Our Instructors

Al-Shalchi, Olla_Faculty Profile pictureDr. Olla Al-Shalchi

Arabic Coordinator and Lecturer of Arabic in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies

"Ustaaza Olla utilizes humor and empathy to complement the demands of first year Arabic in a fun and approachable environment. Her experience and insights reveal a rich and expansive Arabic world, and inspire us to strive to meet her expectations of us in the rigorous coursework." - Cayla, 1st year AFP

Dr. Olla Najah Al-Shalchi received her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas and went on to complete her master's degree in teaching Arabic as a foreign language from the American University of Cairo. She completed her doctoral degree in Instructional Design and Technology from Old Dominion University.

Dr. Al-Shalchi has taught a variety of Arabic classes including first-, second- and third-year Arabic, Arabic Literature in Translation, Iraqi Arabic Dialect, and Arab Culture. Before joining the University of Texas, she taught at Smith College, Williams College, the American University of Cairo, Middlebury College, the College of William and Mary, and the George Washington University.

Dr. Al-Shalchi's research interests include language pedagogy, the use of technology in the classroom, material development, learning strategies, and the cognitive load effect on learners with varying knowledge backgrounds. She has published an article about effective online learning and has published several works of poetry. She served as the Treasurer for the Virginia Association of Teachers of Arabic from 2012-2013.

 Dr. Cheng-Wei Lin

Co-Director of the Arabic Flagship Program and Lecturer of Arabic in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies

"Ustaaz Cheng-Wei is a wonderful instructor, and I hope to have him in more classes as I progress in Arabic. His upbeat, enthusiastic personality makes the material more interesting and his repetitiveness helps vocab and dictation stick." -Jordan, 1st year AFP 

Dr. Cheng-Wei Lin is the co-director of the Arabic Flagship Program and lecturer of Arabic at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. In the Arabic Flagship Program, he serves as the academic supervisor to oversee and maintain quality of instruction and the curriculum.

Dr. Lin received his Doctorate in Arabic linguistics and second language acquisition form the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the acquisition of Arabic as a second language using experimental methods and corpus-based analyses. His recent works appear on the Routledge Handbook of Arabic Second Language Acquisition and Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics.

Dr. Lin has taught Arabic in various levels with a focus on the Levantine dialect. Prior to joining UT, Dr. Lin has taught at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. He is particularly interested in developing computer-assisted curriculum for the students as well as development tools for the instructors.

Ayoub, Samy_WebsiteDr. Samy Ayoub

Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies

“Professor Ayoub has the perfect personality for his 'Arabic Readings in Islamic Texts' content course because he makes us feel welcome to share our thoughts and opinions on the topics we are studying in class. He encourages us in our Arabic studies and challenges our assumptions at the same time. He will go into detail on concepts that are harder to understand because he truly wants his students to grasp these difficult concepts and is gracious in growing our capabilities in comprehension.” - Emily, 4th year AFP

Dr. Samy Ayoub is a Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. He teaches courses on the late Ottoman Empire, Islamic law, comparative law, ethics, Islamism, and political violence. He also offers content courses such as “Arabic Readings in Islamic Texts.”

Dr. Ayoub received his doctorate from the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in 2014. In addition to his Ph.D., he earned a B.A in Islamic jurisprudence from Al-Azhar University in Cairo in 2006. He also received a MSc. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the University of Edinburgh in 2008. Dr. Ayoub’s dissertation and current book project, “We’re Not in Kūfa Anymore: The Construction of Late Ḥanafism in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire, 16th – 19th Centuries CE,” won the 2015 Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award. Furthermore, Dr. Ayoub was nominated in 2015 for the prestigious Margaret T. Getman Service to Students Award, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Students in Dr. Ayoub’s courses are introduced to diverse ways of knowing. Dr. Ayoub insists that commitment to Arabic and Islamic studies should go beyond mere academic engagement. Students will learn how to center indigenous epistemologies and build sustained networks of scholarship. “Arabic Readings in Islamic Texts” empowers students to speak and debate in Arabic about a highly complex set of issues in premodern and modern Arab and Islamicate societies.

 Reema Barakat

Lecturer of Arabic in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies

"Ustaaza Reema’s Arabic class isn’t just a place to learn the language. It’s a place to become immersed in the traditions, daily life, and real-world language usage in the modern Arab world. She prioritizes adapting lessons to accommodate each student and their interests while sharing personal anecdotes about her experience with the content. Although the material she teaches is challenging, her instruction ensures continual improvement and a community atmosphere. ." - Evan, 2nd year AFP

Reema Barakat earned her Master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Middle Eastern Studies and Cultures in 2015. Her thesis focused on discourse analysis. Reema, who grew up in Syria, earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and spent time teaching English to students at universities and schools in Syria before coming to the U.S. At UT, she is teaching various levels of Arabic and enjoys sharing her culture and language with her students. Reema was a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant at UT Austin in 2012 and a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Arabic there from 2013-2015. She also taught Arabic at Florida State University and at Cornell University. 

Brustad, Kristen_FacultyDr. Kristen Brustad

Associate Professor of Arabic in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies

"I came into Dr. Brustad's second-year class as a freshman, feeling very unprepared for the fast paced and rigorous course load of an advanced Arabic course. Not only did Dr. Brustad recognize early on that I was struggling, but she immediately, and without my needing to ask, set up one-on-one tutoring and met with me often to track my improvement. Without Dr. Brustad's individualized attention, I could have slipped through the cracks. Instead, with her help, I am able to excel and learn more than I thought possible." - Kylie, 2nd year AFP 

Dr. Brustad is an Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. She is also co-author of the Arabic textbooks used worldwide, al-Kitaab fii ta’allum al-‘Arabiyya, Volume One, Two and Three and Alif-Baa, Introduction to Arabic Sounds and Letters,and she served as Chair of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at UT from 2010-2013.

Dr. Brustad received her Doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate levels classes in Arabic language, dialect and diglossia, Arabic literature and culture, and Arabic literature in translation. Dr. Brustad has received numerous awards including the Faculty Research Award, Dean’s Fellowship, Emory Language Center Excellence in Language Teaching Award and Harvard Certificate of Distinction in Teaching.

Dr. Brustad has been at the forefront of developing integrative curriculum accessible to learners of all linguistic backgrounds, including both heritage and non-heritage speakers, to help them achieve near fluency in the Arabic language. She has played an important role in advancing the integration of Arabic dialect and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in Arabic courses at all levels her at UT.

Students in Dr. Brustad’s courses are challenged to push themselves in advancing their language skills while receiving personable, individually catered assistance to their specific needs. Students really engage in the language, witnessing their skills grow at an unbelievable rate, while developing the strategies to continue building their language skills on their own.

Housen, Ghada_FacultyGhada Housen

Lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies

"Ustaaza (Instructor) Ghada’s enthusiasm for teaching the Arabic language is evident daily in the classroom and extends well beyond the hour! Her office door is always open and her ‘Ahlan wa Sahlan’ motto provides every student the chance to truly succeed in this challenging, yet beautiful language." - Courtney, 2nd year AFP

Ghada Housen is a Lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern studies and instructs for "Intensive Arabic IV," "Intensive Arabic V," and content courses including, "Advanced Spoken Media Arabic I."

Ms. Housen received her degree from the Department of Arabic Language at the Damascus University in Syria and has extensive experience teaching students learning Arabic as a second language through programs including the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) and SOAS Arabic Language in the United Kingdom. Ms. Housen focuses on the Syrian dialect in addition to Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

Ms. Housen brings a contagious energy and joy to her classroom instruction where students can’t help but fully engage in classroom activities. Students will have the unique experience of studying under a native speaker with extensive knowledge of the Syrian culture and if you’re lucky, may even learn the ‘dubka.’


Mohammad, Mohammad_websiteDr. Mohammad Mohammad

Associate Professor of Arabic in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies

"The experience and cultural knowledge that Dr. Mohammad brings into his classroom is unique and engaging. He balances historical content with personal anecdotes and is capable of making complicated grammar concepts interesting and understandable. His humor and spontaneity make him approachable and easy to learn from." - Helen, 4th year AFP

Dr. Mohammad Mohammad is an Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Language and Literatures in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. He teaches Arabic language and content courses including "Arabic Grammar through Literature," "Palestine and the Palestinians," "Arab Political Speeches on War & Peace" and "Advanced Spoken Media Arabic".

Dr. Mohammad received his doctorate from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Southern California with a concentration on Syntactic Theory, Palestinian Arabic, Classical and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Comparative Arabic Linguistics. Dr. Mohammad has been nominated for numerous Faculty Teaching Awards and received the Teaching Improvement Program Award from the University of Florida.

Dr. Mohammad provides a unique perspective on the Arab world, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the politics, culture, and recent history of the Levant help students understand how the region evolved into its present form.  Never afraid to address controversial topics, Dr. Mohammad’s irreverent style has endeared him to many UT Arabic students.  Laid back and approachable, Dr. Mohammad can often be found chatting with students outside the classroom on the South Mall lawn of the University.



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  • The Arabic Flagship Program

    Department of Middle Eastern Studies
    204 W 21st Street
    F9400, CAL 528
    Austin, Texas 78712
    (512) 471-1724

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