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Arabic Language Studies

Offered in Washington DC and SAIS Europe

The Arabic program 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.

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.

Pre-Proficiency Levels

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.

Post-Proficiency Levels

In addition to the Basic Program, we also provide courses that go beyond the minimum 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:

Listening: Intermediate Mid
Speaking: Intermediate Mid
Reading: Intermediate Mid

PhD 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 the school, 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.