Photo of students in seminar in Jordan.

All students are required to take Modern Standard Arabic (6 hours/week), Jordanian Colloquial Arabic (Ammiya) (4 hours/week), and two elective content courses (3 hours/week per course), for a total of 16 hours of classes per week. Each language course will have a maximum of 12 students.

MSA course placement will determine a student’s eligibility to take either Intermediate-high or Advanced elective content courses. MSA course placement is determined through a placement test that is administered on-site, as well as an internal Oral Proficiency Interview conducted before arrival in Jordan.

Elective course offerings are based, in part, on enrollment, student interest, and instructor availability. At least three Intermediate-high courses and at least two Advanced courses (listed below) are offered in a typical semester.

Modern Standard Arabic (Required)

This course aims to help students reach Intermediate-High or Advanced proficiency levels (depending upon their proficiency upon arrival in Jordan) in reading, speaking, writing, and listening in MSA. Through extensive exposure to authentic texts on a range of subjects, students develop both linguistic and cultural proficiency in approaching MSA as it is used in the Arabic–speaking world today. Modern Standard Arabic is taught on a variety of levels to suit the needs of incoming students. In addition to work in all skill areas, intensive study of vocabulary, structures, and stylistic features is a focus at all levels. The textbook Al-Kitaab fii Ta’allum al-a’Arabiyya (Part 2) is used in the lowest level of Modern Standard Arabic, along with supplementary material specific to a Jordanian context. All other levels utilize authentic reading and listening material selected by faculty. At the higher levels, course units focus on cultural, social, historical, political, and literary themes relevant to Jordan and the wider Arab World.

Colloquial Jordanian Arabic (Required)

This course aims to increase students’ ability to carry out practical communicative tasks in colloquial Jordanian Arabic (Ammiya). Each unit of the course explores topics relevant to daily life and society in Jordan. Students will build fluency through a combination of oral practice, listening, and study of new vocabulary and grammatical structures. The course utilizes pedagogical and authentic material to enhance the learning experience and broaden students’ knowledge of the local culture.

Gender Issues in the Arab World (Intermediate-High Elective)

With a focus on women’s rights, this course deals with issues related to gender and equality in the Arab World in general, and in Jordan in particular. With an analytical perspective, the course provides an overview of the political opportunity structure in Jordan and the Arab region, and its influence on human rights in general and women’s rights more specifically. Moreover, this course aims to discuss both Arab and Muslim feminist schools of thought and to highlight the debate on the relation between Western and Eastern feminism. The issues of honor killings, migrant workers, female refugees, and the stance of Jordan with respect to international human rights conventions are core elements of this course.

Introduction to Current Issues in the Arab World (Intermediate-High Elective)

This course explores recent and ongoing issues in the Arab World such as the Arab spring, the Arab-Israeli conflict, regional conflicts, and political issues in Jordan. Additionally, the course familiarizes students with theoretical concepts and frameworks that are necessary for understanding current events as they consider local contexts and challenges of democracy, as well as the demographic makeup of the Arab world, specifically with regard to minorities. The course includes a focus on the terminology needed to understand and discuss political issues and utilizes authentic materials to develop students’ reading and listening skills. The assigned case studies, papers, and final presentations further develop students’ subject-area knowledge and communication skills.

Media Arabic (Intermediate-High Elective)

This is an integrated-skills course that introduces Arabic-language audiovisual and written media at an upper-intermediate level. Through reading and listening assignments, as well as targeted study of vocabulary and grammar/grammatical structures, students will develop proficiency in reading, listening to, and commenting on Arab media. Course topics may include meetings and conferences, protests, terrorism, economics, conflict, elections, and the Jordanian media landscape. Current events and developments in the Middle East and Jordan may also be discussed. Classroom activities will be supplemented by occasional lectures and field visits.

Translation (Intermediate-High Elective)

This course aims to provide students with a basic framework for understanding aspects of Arabic–English translation and to develop students’ translation competence. To achieve this aim, the course will start with improving students’ skills in Arabic language, particularly: reading comprehension of Arabic texts, understanding complex sentences, and familiarity with Arabic usage and sentence structure. It will then introduce the basic principles of translation from Arabic into English. Classes are held twice a week, during which time students will perform practical work in Arabic-English translation. Throughout the course, students will be trained to think of translation strategies that can be used to solve problems encountered during the translation process. Students will also be trained to evaluate and edit English translations of Arabic texts. The translation materials include cultural, political, and literary texts.

Politics, Society, and Identity in Jordanian Movies and Traditional Songs (Intermediate-High Elective)

This course aims to scrutinize Jordanian identity, social values, and politics as demonstrated in Jordanian movies. In addition to introducing well-known Jordanian movies that represent and discuss current issues in Jordanian society, the course will highlight what they exemplify in the Jordanian tradition. Movies will be chosen thematically and will cover three topics: identity, society, and politics. Students will engage with the chosen works by using interdisciplinary methods to analyze them thematically and artistically. The course will also host a number of Jordanian filmmakers and actors in and outside the class.

Economics in the Middle East (Advanced Elective)

This course aims to enrich students’ understanding of contemporary economic issues and challenges in the Middle East. Students will learn key macroeconomic concepts, examine the structures and growth of Middle East economies, and compare key economic indicators including population, regional trends, policies, and foreign trade. The economies of select countries and sub-regions will be explored in detail, and the role of the Middle Eastern region in the global economic system will also be examined. Course themes may include the oil sector, labor migration, capital flows, population transition, and poverty. Prior coursework in economics is useful but not required.

Refugee and Migration Studies (Advanced Elective)

This course aims to explore key concepts in the study of migration and refugees and analyze their relevance for the study of migration in Jordan and the Middle East. Using the Jordanian example, the course will delve into the social-political spaces occupied by refugees and analyze the approach to resettlement and durable solutions from the perspective and experience of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The course will also engage in practical learning by visiting CBOs, NGOs, and refugee camps to gain a realistic view of the situation and observe community development and protection efforts in action. Through these activities, the course will review major refugee group situations without leaving minorities behind. Class discussions, guest speaker sessions, and field visits are integral parts of the course.

Contemporary Arabic Literature (Advanced Elective)

This course aims to familiarize students with modern and contemporary Arab literary writings, including novels, short stories, plays and poetry. The course will scrutinize various literary issues, both objectively and stylistically, and will include extensive reading from authentic texts. The literary works chosen for the course will be approached through various literary, social and philosophical perspectives. The course will introduce well-known literary writers from across the Arab World, as well as young writers, from Jordan in particular. The course will include description, text analysis, and literary analysis, and may also include meeting Jordanian writers.

Civil Society in Contemporary Jordan (Advanced Elective)

Over the past 10 years, popular demands for change and reform have shaken the Middle East and led to historical transformations in the region. Jordan has not been an exception and has pursued structural reforms and liberalization in civil society. This course aims to deconstruct the concept, development, and challenges of civil society in Jordan. We will identify leaders and activists of civil society in Jordan, as well as key stakeholders such as the Jordanian parliament, with a special focus on the contributions of minority groups (to civil society). We will also analyze the emergence of social movements, NGOs, labor unions, the environmental movement, and religious and political organizations, and explore their role in social service delivery, development, advocacy, and democratization processes in Jordan. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to conduct research on a local or international organization working within the civil society context and enrich the course with their personal experiences.

Contemporary Issues in Islam (Advanced Elective)

This course explores selected issues in Islam. It will familiarize students with the main principles of Islam that underlie the topics dealt with in this course and discuss some of the current problems facing the Arab world and Western societies. Students will expand their knowledge of the religious dynamics and conflicts that shape both the “East” and the “West”. Among others, students will explore concepts of religious freedom, liberal and Islamic feminism as seen in the Arab world, the phenomenon of Islamophobia, and selected issues relating to Islam and youth in Jordan.

Reshaping Perspectives: Conflict Transformation in the Palestinian-Israeli Context (Advanced Elective)

This course is organized around the three pillars of Middlebury’s Conflict Transformation (CT) programs: knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Building students’ contextual knowledge of the Palestine issue, their ability to practice conflict transformation, and the mindset required for a transformative view of conflict is crucial to teaching conflict transformation in its entirety.
    In addition to becoming better equipped with a set of skills needed to improve their response and engagement with conflict, in general, students will learn about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through sessions on the history of this particular conflict, the parties involved, and contextual factors. The course also explores the current situation and how it is reflected in Jordan, both politically and socially. The course incorporates field trips to Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, guest speakers and a reflection-day trip. It aims to provide students with an overarching grasp of the topic, and also explores key events of the conflict by consulting both primary and secondary sources.