Arabic Language Studies

Why Study Arabic?

  • Because the writing is so beautiful … and it is an alphabet, so it’s not nearly as hard to learn as you might think!
  • Because the language itself is so beautiful and rich.
  • Because it’s one of the few languages that has been in continuous use for over 1400 years. You can read texts from 1400 years ago with the skills you’ll learn in ARA 101!
  • Because Arabic is the 5th most commonly spoken native language in the world. Arabic is the official language of over 20 countries and there are well over 300 million native speakers of the language. These speakers are largely concentrated in the Middle East, but there are minority groups of native speakers throughout the world. It is also an official language of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the African Union.
  • Because Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam, so in addition to the millions of native speakers, many more learn Arabic as a foreign language for religious purposes.
  • Because there is a high demand for (and low supply of) Arabic‐speakers in the Western world. Those who study Arabic can find careers in a variety of fields: journalism, business and industry, education, finance and banking, translation and interpretation, consulting, foreign service and intelligence, and many others.

Arabic Language Courses

The recommended path for those who have no prior exposure to Arabic is to begin with ARA 101/102, progress to ARA 105/105, and then select from a variety of 300-level courses. The most advanced level of Arabic, ARA 403-404 requires the instructor’s permission in order for students to enroll.  

ARA 101-102  | Elementary Arabic I & II  | Fall, Spring

Students in this course are trained to speak, understand, read and write Modern Standard Arabic, the form of Arabic shared by all Arab countries. Classroom time is devoted to conversation (skits and discussions) and grammar exercises (including skim-reading tasks) stemming from audio-visual materials. Emphasis is placed on authentic materials that derive from the living cultural context. Both semesters must be completed in order for students to receive credit.

ARA 105-107 | Intermediate Arabic I & II | Fall, Spring

Building upon the skills gained in Elementary Arabic, students in this course will receive additional speaking and listening practice and attain greater reading and writing proficiency through the study of more elaborate grammar structures and the reading of more sophisticated texts.  Discussions are held in the Arabic language to enhance the students' speaking ability. Prerequisite: ARA 102 or the equivalent.

ARA 301-302 | Advanced Arabic I & II | Fall, Spring

Development of speaking, listening, reading and writing at the upper-intermediate to advanced levels of proficiency. Course is taught primarily in Arabic.  Prerequisite: ARA 107 or the equivalent.

ARA 303 | Media Arabic I | Fall, most years

Students will improve their skills in reading and listening to Arabic news media, including newspapers, magazines, websites, and radio and satellite TV broadcasts (including the BBC and al-Jazeera, among others). Attention will also be given to informal discussion of these subjects. Study will be arranged by subject matter.  Prerequisite: ARA 107 or the equivalent.

ARA 305 | Levantine Colloquial Arabic | Spring, alternate years

This course offers an introduction to spoken Levantine dialect. Materials in the course are designed to promote functional usage of the language, stressing the vocabulary and grammar of conversation as used in daily life, and will explore the varieties of language used in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.  Prerequisite: ARA 107 or the equivalent.

ARA 307 | Egyptian Colloquial Arabic I | Fall, Spring alternate years

These courses provide an introduction to the spoken dialects of Egypt, particularly of Cairo. Students in these courses are assumed to have a functional, working knowledge of classical Arabic, and the course will focus on developing the ability to use conversational language in common, everyday situations.   Prerequisite: ARA 107 or the equivalent.

ARA 308 (LA) | Theory and Practice of Arabic to English Translation Spring, alternate years

This course trains students in the practice of translating Arabic texts from a wide variety of genres into English. Attention will be given to both theoretical and practical problems of translation for research and professional ends.  Prerequisite: ARA 107 or the equivalent.

ARA 309 (LA)  | Advanced Arabic Reading:  The Short Story | Spring, alternate years

This course will use the genre of the Arabic short story to help students expand their reading and, to a lesser extent, their speaking skills in Modern Standard Arabic. In addition, students will learn about the development of the Arabic short story through reading representative examples of the genre from a variety of periods and authors.. Prerequisite:  ARA 107 or the equivalent.

ARA 313 | Arabic Skills for Every Day Living | Spring, most years

This course is based on thematic instruction featuring audio-visual materials of native speakers discussing their daily lives. Emphasis is on improving fluency in reading and speaking skills used in everyday contexts.  Prerequisite: ARA 107 or the equivalent.

ARA 314 | Readings in Arabic Drama | Spring, alternate years

The course will focus on a selection of short plays in Modern Standard Arabic with a view to strengthening language skills as well as providing a sense of the cultural and political impact of the theater over the past century. Prerequisite:  ARA 107 or the equivalent.

ARA 403-404 | Topics in Arabic Language and Culture | Fall, Spring

This course enables advanced students of written Arabic to explore various topics in depth, as selected by the instructor.  Prerequisite:  ARA 301 or the equivalent.  Admission to the course is by permission only.