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Arabic Language

Why Study Arabic?

The study of Arabic is essential to gaining insights into the cultural, religious, and political contexts of the Middle East, which is ever-present in our daily lives. The United Nations adopted Arabic as one of its six official languages in 1974; the governments of twenty different countries list Arabic as their dominant language. It is the native language of over 300 million people within the Arab world, a region that stretches from Southwest Asia to Northwest Africa.The Middle East is the birthplace of civilization and filled with warm, hospitable people. In addition to informing your academic studies, a good knowledge of Arabic will greatly enhance your travels to the Middle East and your ability to work and interact effectively with Arabic-speaking people.

The study of Arabic and the Middle East can lead to an interesting career as a foreign correspondent, reporter, translator, international banker, international consultant, political risk analyst, manager of government relations for oil companies, market analyst for export companies, foreign service officer, development program officer, intelligence analyst, government relations specialist, interpreter, contractual and corporative consultant, or as an educator. The US government currently considers Arabic a critical language and many scholarships and study abroad opportunities are available.

Language Program Information

The Arabic language curriculum at U-M is a comprehensive one. It offers a learner-centered proficiency-oriented sequence of courses at all levels of Arabic instruction and meets the different needs and demands of today’s students coming from a variety of disciplines. It aims to support active and interactive student engagement with reading, writing, listening and speaking Arabic. The program has a strong focus on developing students’ autonomous language learning ability through the development and application of good language learning strategies and critical thinking skills so that students learn not just Arabic but learn how to learn Arabic or any other language they may choose to study in the future. The program requires a serious time commitment for success and seeks to challenge students to excel. Incoming students with prior background or exposure to Arabic are required to take a placement which is offered at least twice a year.

Michigan is the home to the second largest population of Arabic speaking Americans, which offers a special resource for language learners. Also, the program maintains an MCommunity group called “arabicactivities” used to disseminate information relevant to learners of Arabic, including information about study abroad, lectures and films. It is an open group, so any UM student or faculty member can join.

Please Note:

  • UM's Arabic curriculum is a dual register curriculum in which students learn to speak and understand either the Egyptian dialect or the Levantine dialect (the dialect of Jordan, Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon) in addition to learning to read, write, and understand formal Arabic (fuSHa). 
  • Students starting to learn Arabic, if they have no background in the language, can choose to take either dialect or can switch their dialect focus from one semester to the next.
  • Learners who already have a basic conversational ability (Novice high or above) in either Levantine Arabic or Egyptian Arabic, however, must register in a section of 101 that is teaching the dialect that they do NOT know so that they are learning something new. The dialect focus of each class section is indicated in the schedule of classes.

Arabic Language Courses

Fall term courses:

ARABIC 101: Elementary Arabic I (5 credits)

ARABIC 201: Intermediate Arabic I (5 credits)

ARABIC 401: Advanced Arabic I (5 credits)

Winter term courses:

ARABIC 102: Elementary Arabic II (5 credits)

ARABIC 202: Intermediate Arabic II (Completion of this course with a grade of C- or better meets the LSA Language Requirement) (5 credits)

ARABIC 402: Advanced Arabic II (5 credits)

Intensive Courses

ARABIC 103: Intensive Elementary Arabic I and II (10 credits)

ARABIC 203: Intensive Intermediate Arabic I and II (Completion of this course with a grade of C- or better meets the LSA Language Requirement) (10 credits)

This course is typically offered for 10-weeks every summer as part of the LSA Summer Language Institute. 

Please note that changes are being made to our Summer Language Institute, once plans are finialzed we will share more on our website. 

500-Level and Above

Beyond the advanced level, each semester the Arabic Language Program offers at least one language proficiency class at a fourth year level, as well as one higher level content/culture class taught in Arabic. The following courses are taught on rotation or when need exists:

ARABIC 501: Advanced Arabic Conversation and Composition (3 credits)

ARABIC 503: Classical Arabic Grammar (3 credits)

ARABIC 504: Advanced Arabic Media I (4 credits)

ARABIC 506: Arabic Phonology and Morphology (3 credits)

ARABIC 507: Arabic Syntax and Semantics (3 credits)

ARABIC 508: Arabic Historical Linguistics and Dialectology (3 credits)

ARABIC 509: Arabic Second Language Acquisition (3 credits)

ARABIC 513: Arabic-English Translation: Theory and Practice (3 credits)

ARABIC 600: Reading Modern Arab Authors in Arabic (3 credits)

ARABIC 601: Modern Arabic Fiction (3 credits)

ARABIC 602: Modern Arabic Nonfiction (3 credits)

Arabic Textbooks

For the first two years of the program, we use the Al-Kitaab fii Ta'allum al'Arabiyya series, 3rd Edition published by Georgetown University Press, which includes an extensive interactive online website companion. The 2nd Edition materials are used during the third year courses.