Arabic Language Programs at Sijal
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.
Beginner
Core Objectives:
  • Build a strong foundation in all skills in Arabic (listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar)
  • Introduce cultural awareness
Students Can:
  • Read and write in Arabic
  • Use courteous and culturally appropriate expressions
  • Introduce and identify themselves
  • Command an active vocabulary of a few hundred words
  • Expand their vocabulary using the root/pattern system and the Arabic dictionary
  • Understand the fundamentals of Arab culture and society
  • Begin and maintain a simple conversation and exchange information on familiar topics (e.g., themselves, schooling, career and family) using accurate pronunciation and natural forms of expression
  • Connect basic sentences in order to provide information on familiar topics
  • Relate in some detail what they see, hear and read
  • Understand main ideas and some details when listening to sentences or short conversations and some media
  • Understand main ideas and many details in some texts containing familiar vocabulary in formal Arabic
  • Write a series of sentences in Arabic about a familiar topic or experience (e.g. a short passage on a familiar topic or a polite letter or informal note)
Levels Achieved: Successful students reach Intermediate Low on the ACTFL scale and between A1 - A2 on the CEFR scale.
Intermediate
Core Objectives:
  • Expand active vocabulary and commonly used formal expressions
  • Engage with a wide variety of texts and topics

Students Can: 
  • Understand and summarize some extended speech on a variety of familiar and some unfamiliar topics from a variety of media
  • Understand many different types of texts
  • Understand subtle points of familiar texts and information from unfamiliar topics
  • State and support views and be active discussants on familiar topics and some unfamiliar topics in formal Arabic
  • Deliver a presentation on a variety of topics
  • Express ideas in writing using detailed narratives, descriptions or explanations with appropriate transitions and idiomatic expressions
Levels Achieved: Successful students reach Intermediate High/Advanced Low on the ACTFL scale and between B1 - B2 on the CEFR scale.
Advanced
Core Objectives:
  • Engage with authentic texts and programming while refining reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary, and grammar skills
  • Read and understand texts from the Classical Arabic (medieval) tradition
Students Can: 
  • Understand and summarize extended speech and lectures
  • Understand newspapers and most forms of media
  • Understand long, complex texts and recognize some literary styles
  • Communicate in formal Arabic with fluency and flexibility on concrete social and professional topics
  • Deliver a clear presentation on academic or professional subjects or topics of personal interest
  • Write clear, structured texts for a variety of audiences on concrete social and professional topics
Levels Achieved: Successful students reach Advanced Mid-High/Superior on the ACTFL scale and between B2 - C1 on the CEFR scale.
Colloquial
Colloquial Arabic is integrated into the Sijal curriculum at all course levels. Students engage each other in real-life situations and accrue a useful, expansive, and natural vocabulary that they can immediately implement in their daily lives during their time in Jordan.

The dialect taught is Levantine Arabic, which is spoken in Jordan, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon. It is widely understood across the Arab world.