In 2014, The Programme of Armenian Studies successfully provided its first year of Summer Intensive Courses in Western Armenian. This year, the Programme expanded on this experience to offer a second successive year of summer intensive courses. The continuation of the summer courses is conducive to the overall development of the Programme in terms of fulfilling its aim of providing education in Western Armenian and attracting interest in Armenian Studies.
Three levels of courses were offered – elementary, intermediate and advanced. This year, 2 people joined the elementary course (one American-Armenian from New York and one British-Armenian from London); 8 people participated in the intermediate course (3 American-Armenians from Los Angeles, New York and Boston, 2 French-Armenians from Paris, one British-Armenian from London, one British from Oxford and one Czech-Armenian from Prague). The advanced course unfortunately saw no participants.
Lessons for the elementary class were held in July and lasted 5 hours 15 minutes per day, including two breaks. The elementary class was taught the foundations of the Western Armenian language. The students began by learning the Armenian alphabet, then moving on to grammatical themes, studying simple tenses, verb conjugation and noun declension. Students were asked to keep a diary of their progress from the second week onwards.
The intermediate class was held in August. Lessons for the intermediate class have been catered to be a natural progression from the elementary. Students were exposed to a great variety of tenses and intricacies of the Western Armenian language. Intermediate students kept a diary from the very start of the course. They were constantly given homework, which was checked by the teacher the day after. The students were directly exposed to the Western Armenian language through cultural productions such as Armenian songs and films. In addition, all students gave presentations in Western Armenian of a fairly high standard. Their presented topics were as follows: “Paris”, “Magical realism”, “Towards Ani”, “Krikor’s App”, “My Grandfather’s Lullabies”, “Visit to Edinburgh”, “Russia”, and “The Armenian Community in Paris”.
During coffee breaks held between lessons, students discussed a variety of interesting personal, cultural and political topics related to their experiences and academic work. These discussions were extended during two dinners held at the start and end of the course respectively.
Students of the intermediate class had a number of opportunities to improve their linguistic and cultural knowledge of Armenians. On the first Sunday of August the society of Western Armenian speakers held a meeting in which the elementary and intermediate classes actively participated. They practised their Western Armenian with native speakers with fruitful results. Furthermore, three lectures were held specifically for students of the intermediate class. Two lectures were presented by renowned Armenian historian, Ara Sarafian, who focuses his work on the situation of the Armenians of the late Ottoman Empire and the Armenian Genocide. His lectures were entitled “Building Communities, Building a Nation: The Armenian National Constitution of 1863” and “The British Parliamentary Blue Book on the Armenian Genocide and its Contemporary Significance as an Object of Denial”. The third lecture was presented by Vazken Davidian, a PhD candidate in Art History at Birkbeck College, University of London. His research is connected to the heritage of Armenian art, the subject of his thesis engages with Realism and Armenian artists of the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century. His lecture was entitled “Ottoman-Armenian Painting: A Discussion”.
All participants of this year’s summer intensive courses were very pleased with the programme thanks to the constant exposure to the Armenian language and culture. The amicable atmosphere within classes and professionalism of the teaching provided a harmonious setting for the learning of Western Armenian. The Programme of Armenian Studies hopes to push on with further successes in the coming academic year.