Placement in a specific level is determined by language proficiency. All students, except for complete beginners, take a language assessment prior to the start of the program. The language assessment is not part of the application process. 

Explore our course catalog to see the courses offered in past years.

Level 1: Elementary Arabic

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The beginning level is designed for students with no prior knowledge of Arabic. During the first week, elementary level students sign a modified pledge allowing them to interact with their instructor in English while in class. In all other aspects of their daily life in the school, beginning level students abide by the full Language Pledge. From the first day of classes, students are exposed to authentic reading and listening materials. They engage in functional activities, often in small groups, necessary to their survival in the school community and later on in an Arab setting. Students at the elementary level are introduced to the use of Arabic computer software and to listening materials in digitized form and on the Internet. Reading assignments from Arabic sources on the Internet are also a feature of this level. Students write long compositions and make oral presentations in class in a way that makes the use of Arabic a natural process and helps students at this level blend in with students from higher levels. Students are expected to spend between four and five hours outside of class working on assignments and preparing for next day’s class. (4 units)

Level 1.5: High Elementary Arabic

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This level of study is designed for students who have had some exposure to Arabic through an academic institution, through living for a period of time in an Arab country, or through private tutoring in the language. Students at this level typically come from different backgrounds, have studied using different textbooks, and have different levels of proficiency. Students are expected to use Arabic exclusively from the outset and all instruction is conducted in Arabic. Students in this level are exposed to authentic reading and listening materials that are of more depth and length than those used in Level 1. The speaking and writing assignments are more varied and more demanding than Level 1 assignments. Students at this level are required to write and edit their compositions using Arabic word-processing software available at the School, in addition to other technological features such as digitized sound for Al-Kitaab lessons and reading and listening assignments from the Internet. Students are expected to spend between four and five hours a day outside of class working on assignments and preparing for the next day’s class. (4 units)

Level 2: Intermediate Arabic

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Students placed in Level 2 normally have taken two or three semesters of Arabic in an academic setting and have knowledge of the basic grammatical and lexical features of Arabic. Sometimes a “lower intermediate” class is created to accommodate those students whose proficiency and language skills require that they go at a slower speed than regular intermediate students. Typically, students in the lower intermediate class have finished only two semesters of college Arabic, or more than two semesters but have been away from the language for some time. The objectives of Intermediate Arabic are, in general, to solidify knowledge of the basic rules of Arabic grammar, to expand vocabulary in terms of complexity, and to increase the acquisition of words for active use in a wide variety of topics and settings. Emphasis is placed on the use of authentic reading and listening materials, and on communicative writing and speaking tasks. Students at the intermediate level are required to go to all Arabic lectures and movies. Usually, there are homework assignments designed to enhance each student’s benefit from the cultural activities. At the end of the course, students at the intermediate level are expected to write a long composition of at least 1,200 words. Oral presentations of 15 to 20 minutes are regular activities at this level. In addition, work outside of class requires an average of four to five hours a day. (4 units)

Level 2.5: Intermediate Arabic II

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This level enables students at the intermediate proficiency level to further strengthen the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Modern Standard Arabic and to understand key aspects of the Arab world and the Arab culture. Typically, students in this level have finished three or four semesters of Arabic. Students will acquire a broad range of intermediate level vocabulary, learn higher level rules of Arabic grammar, and increase the acquisition of phrases for active use in a wide variety of topics and settings. Students write lengthy paragraphs in their daily assignments and give oral presentations in class in a way that makes the use of Arabic a natural process. Work outside of class requires between four to five hours a day.

Level 3: High Intermediate Arabic

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Students at this level have a broader range of vocabulary, more fluency in speaking, and more advanced skills in Arabic than students at the regular Intermediate Arabic level. The main objective of this course is to move students in a short period of time across the threshold of the high intermediate level of proficiency and provide opportunities and learning strategies towards the advanced level of proficiency. This level is characterized by extensive readings and discussions on a multitude of political, social, cultural, and literary topics. Writing assignments are geared toward stylistic and aesthetic aspects of the Arabic language. Students produce lengthy expository and argumentative discourse. Attending lectures and films and participating in follow-up discussion sessions either with their instructor or the visiting lecturer are regular features of class activities. Listening activities focus on authentic materials of considerable length and content. At this level, students choose one of the colloquial dialects offered in the School. The objective is to equip students with the necessary conversational skills that would enable them to engage in meaningful discourse with educated Arabs in a medium that is not considered artificial or unfamiliar in the Arab World. The study of the dialect is uniquely integrated into the general curriculum emphasizing the linguistic realities in the Arab World. Work outside of class requires between four to five hours a day. (4 units)

Level 3.5: High Intermediate Arabic II

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This level builds on the writing and conversational skills the students already have in order to take them up to the advanced proficiency level. The students study literary discourse and news reports, along with listening to authentic interviews and talks, writing lengthy assignments, and giving short oral presentations. In addition, they review some advanced grammatical rules on a daily basis. They also choose one of the dialects offered in the School to acquire the necessary conversational skills that will enable them to engage in a meaningful discourse with educated Arabs in a medium that is not considered artificial or unfamiliar in the Arab World. The study of the dialect is integrated into the general curriculum emphasizing the linguistic realities in the Arab World. Work outside of class requires between four to five hours a day.

Level 4: Advanced Arabic

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Students accepted at this level are expected to have mastered language mechanics and possess the high intermediate level of proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic. The course is designed to enable students to attain solid, advanced level proficiency or higher in the various language skills. Readings at this level are extensive and varied in terms of genres and academic interests. They consist exclusively of authentic materials on various contemporary and classical topics in language, literature, and the social sciences. Chapters from books, novels, and lengthy articles form the backbone of this course. Students analyze the stylistic features of different genres and texts. Special emphasis is placed on understanding the nuances of the language and the use of idiomatic expressions and rhetorical devices. Home assignments are varied and typically consist of attending or watching a recording of a lecture, reading a chapter from a book and making an oral presentation in class based on that reading, engaging in a panel discussion with other classmates and one or more of the other instructors in the School, or watching a live TV broadcast (via satellite) of a cultural, historical, political, or religious nature. At the advanced level, students also study the basic structures and phonological system of one of the major colloquial dialects. Students are encouraged to adopt the same linguistic medium that intellectual and educated native speakers of Arabic adopt in their conversations on academic topics. The study of the dialect is uniquely integrated into the general curriculum emphasizing the linguistic realities in the Arab World. Work outside of class requires between four to five hours a day. (4 units)

Level 4.5: Advanced Arabic II

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This level helps advanced-high students refine and practice their listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students learn how to use and extend their advanced vocabulary, grammar, and communication skills more consciously and effectively. Emphasis is on speaking extemporaneously, use of idioms and special expressions, and identifying intent and emotions by recognizing tone, content, and word usage. An increased focus on reading novels, short stories, and media analysis, along with listening to authentic interviews, debates and talks, serves as the basis for dynamic oral communicative practice. Students engage in class discussions and have the opportunity to express their opinions about contemporary issues in the Arab world. They are to write a research paper and give lengthy presentations. Work outside of class requires between four to five hours a day.