Sijal provides expert language instruction to learners at all levels of Arabic. Based on best practices in foreign language pedagogy, the curriculum is comprehensive and relates to real-life situations. Students learn both Modern Standard Arabic/MSA (al-fuSHa) as well as colloquial Levantine Arabic (al-arabiyya al-mashriqiyya). This is the dialect spoken in Jordan, where Sijal is located, but also in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon. Students with proficiency in colloquial Levantine Arabic are able to communicate across the Arab world.
The intensive curriculum offers the same content as a full academic year of university study and covers the same topics and breadth of material as the most rigorous courses. Unlike many Arabic programs (which focus solely on standard or formal Arabic), Sijal engages the diglossic aspect of Arabic, enabling students to learn and produce casual spoken Arabic as well as formal MSA by including both in the curriculum.
Sijal’s instructors build an environment in which the student is at the center of a highly interactive learning process. Throughout the program, students learn about and actively engage with practices and products of Arab cultures, using Arabic in interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes. All language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar) are integrated into the full range of activities.
The curriculum is based on the best-selling series from Georgetown University Press, Al-Kitaab fii Tacallum al-cArabiyya (Brustad, Al-Batal, Al-Tonsi), the most widely used Arabic language textbooks in schools and universities in North America. These include online activities as well as extensive video and listening passages available on DVD and as audio files. The texts in the Al-Kitaab series are supplemented by selections from Arabic language media and the internet, academia, literature, and the arts. For Colloquial Arabic we use the Spoken Arabic for Foreigners: An Introduction to the Palestinian Dialect series, by Dr. Moin Halloun of Bethlehem University.
Homework provides a crucial opportunity to reinforce skills as well as internalize new language structures and material. Review and written assignments will require approximately 3-4 hours each day. Instructors hold regular office hours to meet with students on an individual basis. In addition, an in-house bilingual tutor is available for questions and review after class to provide additional learning support.
Students are constantly immersed in Arabic within and outside the classroom. By using the colloquial Arabic they learn in class, students can successfully interact and build relationships with the local community around Sijal.