Arabic Language Courses By Subject

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)

15$ per hour

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), developed in the early part of the 19th century, is the literary standard across the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Most of the printed materials by the Arab League, including books, newspapers, magazines, official documents, and children’s reading primers, are all written in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

“Colloquial” Arabic refers to the many regional dialects derived from Classical Arabic (CA) spoken daily across the region, learned as a native tongue, and taught as a second language to bilingual and multilingual locals.

Although “Colloquial” Arabic dialects are not normally written, they are frequently used in plays, poetry and songs, some of which are part of Arabic literature.

Literary Arabic (MSA) is the official language of all Arab League countries and is the only form of Arabic taught in schools at all stages.

Additionally, some members of religious minorities recite prayers in it, as it is considered the region’s literary language.

Translated versions of the bible used in Arabic speaking countries are written in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Classical Arabic (CA). Muslims recite prayers in it and revised editions of numerous literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times are also written in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) .

The sociolinguistic situation of Arabic in modern times provides a prime example of the linguistic phenomenon of diglossia – the use of two distinct varieties of the same language, usually in different social contexts.

In this multi-dialectical means of communication, a speaker switches back and forth between two distinct dialects of the language, sometimes even within the same sentence.

People speak Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) as a third language if they speak other native tongues as their first language and colloquial Arabic dialects as their second language.

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is also spoken by people of Arab descent outside of the Arab world when communicating with other people of Arab descent who speak colloquial Arabic dialects.

As there is a standard dialect of vernacular Arabic, speakers of colloquial dialects code-switch between these particular dialects and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

Classical Arabic is considered normative. A few contemporary authors attempt to follow the syntactic and grammatical norms laid down by classical grammarians (such as Sibawayh) and to use the vocabulary defined in classical dictionaries (such as the Lisan al-Arab ِلِسَان العَرَب), with varying degrees of success.

However, the requirements of modernity have led to the adoption of numerous terms which would have been alien to a classical author, whether taken from other languages (e. g. فيلم film) or coined from existing lexical resources (e. g. هاتف hātif “caller” > “telephone”).

Structural influence from foreign languages or from the vernaculars has also affected Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). In Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) texts, for example, the format “A, B, C and D” when listing things may be used, whereas in Classical Arabic (CA) texts, the format “A and B and C and D” is preferred. Also, subject-initial sentences tend to be more commonly found in MSA than in CA.

For these reasons, non-Arab sources make a clear distinction between Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Classical Arabic (CA).

Speakers of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) do not always observe the intricate rules of the Classical Arabic (CA) grammar.

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) principally differs from Classical Arabic (CA) in multiple areas, including vocabulary, terminology, grammar and stylistics, not to mention, certain innovations on the periphery that have not yet been officially standardized.

On the whole, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is not homogeneous. There are authors who write in a style very close to the classical models and others who try to create new stylistic patterns on top of regional dialects and French (Africa and Lebanon) and English (Egypt, Jordan, and other countries) terms and phrases.

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is a revised and simplified form of Classical Arabic (CA) in which obsolete words used in Classical Arabic (CA) have been omitted.

Diglossic speakers of various Arabic dialects freely borrow words from Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). This situation is similar to Romance languages, wherein scores of words were borrowed directly from formal Latin (most literate Romance speakers were also literate in Latin).

Reading out loud in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) for various reasons is becoming increasingly simpler, using less strict rules when compared to Classical Arabic (CA). Notably, the inflection is omitted, making it closer to spoken varieties of Arabic. This depends on the speaker’s knowledge and attitude to the grammar of Classical Arabic (CA), as well as the region and the intended audience.

The pronunciation of native words, loanwords and foreign names in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is fairly flexible. Names, as an example, can be pronounced or even spelled differently in different regions and by different speakers. Pronunciation also depends on the person’s educational level and linguistic proficiency.

Phonetic sounds, including consonants and vowels, which exist in colloquial Arabic language varieties but are not part of the Classical Arabic (CA) language, may be used in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

Consonants – /v/, /p/, /t͡ʃ/ (often realized as [t]+[ʃ]) – may or may not be written with special letters.

Vowels – [o], [e] (both short and long) – there are no special letters in Arabic to distinguish between [e~i] and [o~u] pairs, but the sounds o and e (short and long) exist in the colloquial varieties of Arabic and some foreign words in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

The differentiation of pronunciation of informal dialects is due to the influence of other languages previously spoken and some still presently spoken in the regions, such as Coptic in Egypt; French, Ottoman Turkish, Italian, Spanish, Berber, Punic and Phoenician in North Africa; Himyaritic, Modern South Arabian and Old South Arabian in Yemen, and Aramaic in the Levant.

Standard Arabic or Literary Arabic is the standardized and literary variety of Arabic. It is used in writing and in most formal speech throughout the Arab world as a means to facilitate communication. Standard Arabic or Literary Arabic is considered to be a pluricentric language.


Classical Arabic (CA)

15$ per hour

Classical Arabic (CA), also known as Quranic Arabic (although the term is not entirely accurate), is the language used in the Quran as well as in numerous literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times (7th to 9th century).

Many Muslims study Classical Arabic (CA) in order to read the Quran in its original language.

It is important to note that written Classical Arabic (CA) underwent fundamental changes during the early Islamic era, adding dots to distinguish similarly written letters, and adding the Tashkeel (diacritical markings that guide pronunciation) by Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali, Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi, and other scholars.

It was the lingua franca across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa during classic times and in Andalusia, Spain before that.


Arabic for the Media

15$ per hour

This writing-intensive course seeks to familiarize students with Arabic journalism writing styles over a comprehensive range of story styles and regional news outlet house styles. Special attention is paid to the specialized vocabulary of news reporting.

Level 1 (3 terms)

Media Arabic offers students the tools to access news information without any prior knowledge of media jargon. It introduces students to the vocabulary, style and content of the Arabic press and broadcast media, focusing largely on news-related material.

The course systematically covers current affairs in Arabic language mass media, and includes topics such as diplomacy, elections, economics, trade and industry, as well as interviews with prominent Arabic speakers.

Students receive practical training to learn how to comprehend specialized vocabulary, style and subject content through texts by reading, analyzing, translating, listening, debating and summarizing.

Students will be using a wide range of resources and materials such as newspaper articles, interviews and political speeches. Students will enhance their knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and learn new structures.

If your knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is at the intermediate level, Media Arabic offers the opportunity to widen your reading abilities and overall comprehension of the language used in Arabic newspapers and broadcasts.

Please see the following link for assessments.

Level 2 (3 terms)

After completion of Level 1, students can progress to Further Media Arabic (3 terms).

Details of this course will be available later this year.


The course is taught in English and Arabic and includes the following:

  • Coverage of the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing
  • Establishing a balance between understanding the systems of Arabic grammar and vocabulary
  • Developing the skills of comprehending and producing Arabic Language in speech and writing
  • Guided practice in language usage and authentic communicative activities

Class size is limited to fifteen students to allow for comprehensive interactive practice with individual feedback and advice on progress.


Arabic Literature

15$ per hour

The Arabic Literature Study Program consists of a series of thoughtful analyses of Arabic literature and philosophy designed to evoke aesthetic and intellectual discussion on topics involving the Arab culture and language.

The Arabic Literature program (برنامج الأدب العربي) is dedicated to teaching literature related to the theoretical and applied topics of Arabic literature and its various aesthetic and linguistic components.

Its purpose is to provide an introduction into Arabic literature, as well as to dissect and analyze the literary genres to which it belongs. For this reason, the course includes both theoretical and practical materials on a variety of different topics.

Arabic literature courses also seek to introduce new vocabulary and literary styles that students can use in daily communications, giving them access to the enormous depth of the Arabic language – from the roots of Classical Arabic (CA) all the way to the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) used across the world today.

Arabic Literature – An Introduction

Language programs that teach Arabic to non-native speakers incorporate literary texts in multiple contexts.

Courses specifically dedicated to Arabic Literature are often created with the idea that students of the Arabic language cannot truly reach an advanced level of proficiency without some exposure to literary texts and the ability to recognize and distinguish these texts from one another.

Through these courses, Qalam wa Lawh targets students who begin with some level of linguistic communication competence by emphasizing the beauty of Arabic writing, enabling the student to understand not only the language but also the culture of the language.

Arabic Literature courses

The Arabic Literature Program is comprised of six courses, divided into three two-semester sessions:

  • The first year introduces students to the world of Arabic literature through a broader understanding of theoretical concepts.
  • The second-year examines differences and similarities between older texts and modern writing.
  • The third year consists of a more in-depth analysis of themes, issues, and methodologies.

Students should begin the Arabic Literature program with an intermediate level of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

Students will take a placement test before the program begins.

The program is divided into the following stages of study:

FIRST YEAR- Arabic Literature: Theoretical Approaches and Concepts

  • LIT201: Chronology of literature and literary genres

This course focuses on the history of Arabic literature through its major stations and the transformations of literary forms – poetry and prose.

Additionally, the course covers the artistic and creative differences between poetry and prose in a more general sense.

The course uses a variety of texts and theoretical materials to assist the students as they explore the wonders of Arabic literature.

  • LIT202: Mechanisms of literary criticism

In this course, students will examine formal and thematic differences and changes depending on the period of the text, as well as changes within the same prose forms, by identifying various technical elements in the text and noting thematic developments of the art over time.

The materials used in this course prepare students for the continuation of the study of Arabic literary eras and their focal points, as well as major entries of literary criticism.

SECOND YEAR- Arab Literature and Criticism: Comparing the Old, the Modern, and the Contemporary

  • LIT301: Aesthetic and artistic characteristics of the literary era

As students study the depth of the literature in both poetry and prose throughout this course, they begin identifying distinctive characteristics from the pre-Islamic period, through the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, up to the Renaissance and the modern era.

  • LIT302: Poetry and prose: technical and structural characteristics

During this course, students examine the literature in terms of technical construction and formative molds, social and cultural changes of the Arab environment at the time of its production, and the details of its presentation (i.e, rhyme and eloquence).

Abandoned schools of literature are also studied, along with their cornerstones and creative and critical visions, with an intense look at Andalusian literature as a guide to a range of creative issues, modern arts, and the response to the cultural environment of the period.

THIRD YEAR- Critical Issues and Methodologies of Arabic Literature: From Ancient to Postmodern

  • LIT401: Monetary issues in Arabic literature: between the Ancients and Modernists

This course begins by analyzing the ways in which the Arabic literary arts have been influenced over time.

Students re-examine the literary periods before Islam through the Abbasid Era and into the modern day with a specific eye for the historical processes of the foundations throughout the literary ages and literary criticism.

  • LIT402: Critical approaches between classical and modern monetary schools

Using the techniques and knowledge gained in the previous levels, students continue their critical study of monetary themes in Arabic literature throughout this course.

The most exciting part of this class is the study of the Renaissance period, with its openness to Western traditions and, with it, new schools of thought.

Students take part in the analysis of creative texts, poetry, and prose of the period and compare them to contemporary and modern opinions.