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Arabic – Beginners




Admission requirements

  • Class of 2017: this course is not available to first-year students, as it has been scheduled opposite the Global Challenges courses.

  • Classes of 2013-2016: None.

Course description

This is an MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) course for beginners. MSA is the common language in the 22 Arabic countries, and is widely spread in the inter-Arab media (such as al-Jazeera). This course will provide students with the basics in Arabic and give them a good background if they wish later on to learn one of the many dialects of the region. Introduction of communicative skills as well as grammar basics will be done through the story of Egyptian and Syrian students, introducing learners to an Arabic cultural environment.

Learning objectives

This course familiarises students with Arabic script and phonetics and aims at giving them the possibility to understand basic structures of MSA. With the following course in the second semester, it forms an integrated language course. At the end of the total learning process, participants will be able to read and understand simple texts (with help of the dictionary), to follow simple speeches, and to converse about routine matters.

Mode of instruction

The course is based on an interactive method, giving space to the student to practice and to make sure he/she is progressing in the learning process. Based on an attractive text book, with audio visual material helping the student to efficiently improve pronunciation as well as listening and fluency skills, the course requires a lot of self-teaching at home.

Compulsory literature


  • Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal, Abbas Al-Tonsi, Alif Baa, Introduction to Arabic letters and Sounds, Third Edition, 2010, Georgetown University Press. (For the two first weeks)

  • Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal, Abbas Al-Tonsi, Al-Kitaab fii Ta’allum al-‘Arabiyya: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic, Part One, Second Edition, 2004, Georgetown University Press.

Recommended Literature

  • Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Arabic-English). Edited by J. Milton Cowan. Fourth Edition, considerably enlarged and amended by the author. (Ithaca, N.Y., 1994).