Why Study Arabic?

Boston University Arts & Sciences Modern Languages & Comparative Literature

A Critical Language. Arabic speakers are in greater demand than ever before. The U.S. State Department has named Arabic a “critical language,” creating scholarships for language study in the U.S. and overseas. At BU, Arabic language enrollment has risen by 68 percent just since 2005. Practical as well as curious about the world, BU students feel that knowing Arabic will give them a career edge in such fields as diplomacy, intelligence, business, engineering, international development, and academia.

A Solid Program. The Arabic program at BU covers four years of modern standard Arabic. We use the most widely taught textbook series, Al-Kitaab, supplemented with a variety of authentic materials (newspapers and magazines, songs, advertisements, menus, YouTube videos, etc.) to make the cultural context come alive. The program is structured to get you speaking in Arabic as quickly as possible (this is called the communicative method); by the end of the first year, classes are conducted primarily in Arabic.

A Lively Approach. Our program emphasizes all four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). As a beginner, you’ll start by learning to write the letters and distinguish the sounds of the Arabic alphabet. Throughout your study, one class per week will focus on practical vocabulary and commonly discussed topics (colors, parts of the house, clothing, fruits and vegetables, family relations, the weather, etc.). As you advance, you’ll learn the grammar and vocabulary you need to maintain an interesting college-level conversation in Arabic. Our upper-level language courses use a growing array of authentic sources (Arabic online media, novels and poems, films, blogs, etc.) and address topics such as translation, styles of writing, and the Arab media. We also offer a course in Levantine Colloquial Arabic and a special introductory track for students from Arab backgrounds.

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