- Global Careers
The Arabic program at SAIS is designed to enable students of international affairs to pursue successful careers in the Foreign Service or other governmental, private or international agencies, as well as in fields such as journalism, business, finance, and education. The program is proficiency-based and its materials are designed to help students develop their communicative abilities, to the extent that they will be able to perform tasks that a native speaker carries out in formal and informal situations.
Courses range from the beginner to the upper-advanced levels. Conversation skills and reading comprehension are the mainstay of all levels. The intermediate and advanced-level courses focus on pronunciation and grammar and seek to stress ways in which the language functions as an integral part of the Arabic culture. The upper-advanced levels deal with economic, political, and social issues affecting the modern Arab world, and analyze current events in the Middle East. Advanced-level courses emphasize the acquisition of thematic vocabulary and more specialized grammatical structures pertaining to culturally authentic contexts.
The Arabic language is one of the required languages for the following two study areas: Middle Eastern Studies and African Studies.
While learning Arabic is a demanding process, once started, it is rewarding and enjoyable. We believe that what makes our program particularly effective is the high level of commitment shown by all students, dedicated faculty members, suitable study materials, and the high expectations that students and faculty alike strive to satisfy.
Pre-proficiency courses provide students with a basic knowledge of the Arabic language. These courses focus on the main language skills and foster students' ability to use the language in daily-life situations. They also lay the foundation for studies at the advanced stage.
Post-proficiency courses continue to develop the main language skills, providing students with specialized vocabulary to further broaden their knowledge of the Arabic language and enhance their awareness of cultural differences.
Arabic language training in the Middle East Language Program offers two years (two semesters each) of core language-centered coursework, which introduces students to both formal and colloquial Arabic via the use of authentic materials. Students are expected to reach the Intermediate Low level by the end of the first year, and the Intermediate Mid II level by the end of the second year.
Novice Arabic (Level 1)
This is the first in a four-course sequence. It uses a student-centered approach to introduce basic grammatical structures and sound patterns of Arabic. In this course, students will begin to master pronunciation, listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Arabic. The development of these skills is vital for the process of communication. Students entering this course are expected to achieve the Novice High level on the ACTFL scale (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages).
Novice High Arabic (Level 2)
This is a continuation of Novice Arabic. This course is designed to reinforce and continue fulfilling the objectives set for Novice Arabic in terms of equipping the students’ to be able to communicate in basic daily-life situations, and helping them to progress to the Intermediate Low level. This course focuses on strengthening the four main language skills. Lessons focus on the skills of reading and listening, and introduce more complex grammatical structures. In addition to the main textbook, further materials from daily newspapers and Arabic media broadcasts will be introduced.
Intermediate Low Arabic (Level 3)
This is the third in a four-course sequence in the SAIS Arabic Program. Students entering this course are expected to achieve the Intermediate Mid-level by the end of the semester. The course aims to expand vocabulary and to further develop the four main skills. The course aims to help students successfully perform linguistics tasks, gain self-confidence, and expand their risk-taking in real-life communicative situations. The language that students practice in class reflects what they would use in an Arabic-speaking environment.
Intermediate Mid I Arabic (Level 4)
This is the fourth in a four-course sequence. It provides additional practice to help students attain a higher level of linguistic accuracy. The course favors a skill-based approach in which students gain mastery of the language through the use of authentic materials (e.g., periodicals, video and radio documentaries). This course seeks to build a media vocabulary to enable students to grasp the gist of newspaper articles or news broadcasts with minimal use of the dictionary. The selection of the materials is based on the complexity of the tasks and the students' professional interests. Grammar and vocabulary are integrated into task-based activities and incorporated in all class activities. Teaching techniques are student-centered, with the instructor acting as facilitator. The ultimate goal is to make students independent users of Arabic.
In addition to the Basic Program, we also provide courses that go beyond the minimum SAIS language requirement. These courses are taught at a higher level of proficiency and tailored to the students’ specific needs or professional interests (e.g., Advanced Arabic, etc.).
Intermediate Mid II Arabic (Level 5)
This course will offer an in-depth review of grammar structures in Arabic. It is important to realize, however, that vocabulary and grammar are means to an end. Therefore, the review will be accomplished through a variety of practical, student-centered activities. The course is tailored to the students’ specific needs or professional interests, and therefore covers specific topics (media, international relations, economics, politics, etc.), each of which requires the development of reading and writing skills and the construction of specific vocabulary.
Proficiency exams in Arabic consist of three separate sections: Listening Comprehension, Oral Expression and Reading Comprehension.
In order to pass the exams, students need to obtain the following levels:
|Intermediate Mid||Intermediate Mid||Intermediate Mid|
Ph.D. students only need to pass the reading proficiency exam to meet their second foreign language graduation requirement.
Students who pass the Arabic proficiency examination upon arrival at SAIS, or after their first or second semester, are encouraged to continue their language learning by enrolling in post-proficiency courses. Post-proficiency courses are only offered to groups of five or more.
Senior Professorial Lecturer in the Middle East language program
Rome, Room 319
Associate Lecturer in Arabic