All students are required to take Modern Standard Arabic (6 hours/week), Jordanian Colloquial Arabic (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. 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.
Islam in Jordan (Intermediate-High Elective)
This course seeks to introduce the religion of Islam and the practices of Muslims in a Jordanian context. Course topics include Islamic history, basic concepts and tenets of the faith, the proscribed rights and duties of Muslims, Islamic traditions, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and the interplay of religion and the Arabic language. Students will be asked to examine and evaluate their own perspectives, and to critically engage with, and reflect on, new perspectives. In studying Islam within a Jordanian context, while living and learning in a majority-Muslim country, students will be able to more fully investigate, appreciate, and reflect on the creed and lived experience of Islam.
Introduction to Current Political Issues in the Middle East (Intermediate-High Elective)
In this course, students will develop the background knowledge necessary to understand current political issues in the Middle East. Course topics may include the Arab-Israeli conflict, Political Islam, the Arab Spring, and the influence of the recent regional conflicts on the political and social situation in Jordan. The course includes a focus on the terminology necessary to understand and discuss political issues, and utilizes authentic materials to develop students’ reading and listening skills. Class presentations, papers and projects further develop students’ subject-area knowledge and communication skills.
Media Arabic (Intermediate-High Elective)
This is an integrated-skills course that introduces the language of Arabic audiovisual and written media at an upper-intermediate level. Through reading and listening assignments, as well as targeted study of vocabulary and structures, students will develop proficiency in reading, listening to, and commenting on the Arab media. Course topics may include meetings, protests, terrorism, economics, conflict, and the Jordanian media. 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 will familiarize students with English-Arabic and Arabic-English translation through practical experience in translating written and audio-visual materials. Through in-class activities, lectures, workshopping, and projects, students will be introduced to theoretical and practical aspects of translation. Students will improve their communicative skills through close reading, listening, and study of Arabic usage conventions. They will leave the course with an enhanced understanding of the linguistic and cultural challenges of translation. The course will expose students to a variety of media and topics, with materials to include newspapers, stories, poetry, video clips, recipes, and more.
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 and traditional songs. In addition to introducing well-known Jordanian traditional singers whose songs have become part of the collective identity in Jordan, the course will highlight what they represent in the Jordanian tradition. Like songs, movies will be chosen thematically, and will cover three topics: identity, society, and politics. The chosen works will be approached through interdisciplinary methods to analyze them thematically and artistically. The course will also host a number of Jordanian musicians and filmmakers in and outside the class.
Political Transformations and Conflicts in the Arab World (Advanced Elective)
This course aims to acquaint students with dynamic current political transitions and conflicts in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and Jordan, as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Students will examine the correlation between political transformation and conflict throughout the region. Through lectures, field visits, readings, and research activities, students will develop a more extensive and complex understanding of the historical, political, economic, religious, and social realities of conflict and transformation in the region. Prior coursework in Middle Eastern politics is useful but not required.
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 to analyze their relevance for the study of migration in Jordan and the Middle East. Using the Jordanian example, the course will explore issues of legal status, living conditions, identity, and reciprocal effects between refugees and host societies. The course will also address the rights and obligations of refugees in Jordan by referring to human rights law, international humanitarian law, and relevant Jordanian legislation. Students will examine legal, economic, social, demographic and political dimensions of hosting refugees and migrants in Jordan, with a focus on recent refugee influxes as well as Palestinian refugees in Jordan. The impact of the media on the recent refugee crisis will also be discussed. Class presentations, discussions with guest speakers, and field trips 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 in civil society as well as in liberalization. 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. We will also analyze the emergence of social movements, NGOs, labor unions, 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 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.