With few exceptions, the textbooks used for Arabic in the AALIM program are the Al-Kitaab series or AALIM-developed materials. Some organized university programs or faculty-led programs may request that we use other textbook materials. Students are expected to bring their own copy of Al-Kitaab to the program unless other arrangements are made ahead of time; these books are widely available in the United States. Please check with us for the edition of Al-Kitaab your class will be using.
A placement test will be given in Morocco, the first day of your program, and students will be assigned to their levels according to the results of the test. If a student is unsure of his or her level, he or she should consult AALIM before traveling to Morocco and consider bringing more than one textbook. Students who participate as part of a university group may not be required to take the placement test.
During AALIM programs, Arabic language courses are supplemented by cultural activities outside of class. The specific activities may vary from one program to another. Students are encouraged to attend program activities arranged by AALIM, and in some programs, attendance is required.
Arabic Language Course Levels
The class levels, as they correspond to common American university course numbers are described below. Reference to class levels being equivalent to American university academic years supposes a curriculum of 5 contact hours per week at the American universities. The descriptions rely on skills-based assessment and correspond well to levels defined by ACTFL standards. Students who have completed one year of Arabic should be ready to begin at the 201 level.
101-102 Beginning and Advanced Beginning Modern Standard Arabic
This level is suitable for students who have no previous experience in Arabic. This level is the equivalent of one university academic year of Arabic (about 120 hours). At the end of the course, students should be able to introduce themselves and others, talk about their lives, ask questions and understand simple answers. They should be able to read simple sentences using previously-seen vocabulary and understand the grammar of gender, pronouns and basic sentence structure.
101 Beginning Modern Standard Arabic
This course introduces the students to the Arabic alphabet and the system of writing as well as correct pronunciation. Correct pronunciation of each letter and groups of letters is stressed to provide a sound foundation for both speaking and listening skills. The changing form of letters within words is thoroughly explored to develop fluid reading and writing skills. Students master the skill of communicating short ideas on everyday topics correctly. They use memorized words and short phrases. The student begins to build a basic knowledge of grammar and begins to develop reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. At this skill level, they may be difficult for native speakers to understand unless they have had previous experience working with learners of Arabic.
There may be considerable hesitancy and their sentence structure may be highly influenced by their first language. At the end of the course, students are able to exchange greetings, identify themselves, name familiar objects and have very basic conversational exchanges about themselves and their immediate environment
102 Advanced Beginning Modern Standard Arabic
This course builds on the knowledge gained in 101. Students continue to use memorized words and short phrases, but begin to recombine them to express personal ideas and begin to use sentence-length discourse. By the end of the course, they are able to perform a number of uncomplicated communication tasks in straightforward social situations. They are able to express personal information, talk about basic objects, and a limited number of activities, preferences and immediate needs. They are able to ask questions and understand straightforward answers. They are able to correctly write simple sentences and to read straightforward material using learned vocabulary.
Grammatical usage may still be heavily influenced by the student’s first language. There may be misunderstandings in speaking, listening or writing, but they can often be understood by native speakers used to working with non-native Arabic learners.
201-202 Lower Intermediate and Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
This level is suitable for students who have successfully completed one university academic year of Arabic. It is equivalent to approximately one university academic year of Arabic. At the end of the course, students should able to discuss information related to their personal interests and preferences, their personal experiences, their physical and social needs, family, home and daily activity. They are able to write simple correct sentences and read material on familiar topics without a dictionary.
201 Lower Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
This course builds the student’s knowledge of grammar while continuing to focus on reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. The goal at this level is to further develop the communicative skills in Arabic, using video, texts and drills. Building on what students learned in the first year (101-102), the course expands the previously-covered topics and contexts, deepens students' vocabulary, and strengthens students' ability to create new and more complex sentence structures. This development revolves around speaking in class as well as writing outside of class. Speaking depends to a large extent on keeping up with the video and drill assignments as well as practicing the different “tasks” that will be assigned. Writing will be more of a creative effort involving both the homework assignments and may include a weekly "journal" or other outside of class writing assignments of various lengths.
At the end of the course, students should be able to successfully handle a limited number of uncomplicated communication tasks in straightforward social situations. They use techniques of recombining what they know and what they hear or read into short statements or discreet sentences. Writing is almost exclusively in the present tense. These students can be understood by sympathetic native speakers.
202 Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
This course continues to develop vocabulary, grammar, listening skills and working on lengthening discourse, both spoken and written. At the end of the course, students should be able to understand and utilize basic Arabic sentence structures, converse comfortably on a number of familiar topics, and read simple texts. They are able to talk about familiar topics of daily life. They are able to recombine learned material to express personal meaning both orally and in writing, as well as to ask simple questions and understand the answers. Produced sentences are often in the present tense, but students are moving towards other tenses and are sometimes able to narrate and describe using other major tenses. There may be some hesitancy in speech. They are able to write compositions and simple summaries of everyday life and situations sometimes in paragraphs. Their writing style remains very close to their speaking style. The students are generally understood by native speakers used to the speech or writing of non-native learners.
301-302 Upper Intermediate and Lower Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
This level is suitable for students who have successfully completed 2 university academic years of Arabic. It is equivalent to approximately one university academic year of Arabic. This course focuses on building the student’s vocabulary, as well as emphasizing verbal skills for real-world situations in addition to expanding reading skills, both comprehension and analytic. At the end of the course, students should be able to understand authentic texts, conversations about a variety of subjects, and other materials. They should be able to express themselves with ease. They can participate in conversations with one another, their instructors and many native speakers
301 Upper Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
This course continues to develop vocabulary, grammar, listening skills and speaking skills by working on systems of word roots and verbal forms, exploring the role of spoken local dialects, learning more about culture through texts and interactions with local people. By the end of the course, students should be able to function comfortably in ordinary social situations, and be able to talk about their daily activities, recreation, particular interests and areas of competency. They are able to narrate in paragraph length discourse, though not consistently and there may be occasional breakdown in the correct use of tenses, for example. Their writing skills are on a par with their spoken skills and they are capable of narrating and describing in a variety of tenses, and often do so correctly. Though there may be errors, their speech and written work is generally comprehensible to native speakers.
302 Lower Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
This course continues to develop vocabulary, grammar, listening skills and speaking skills with the goal of developing the students’ ability to function comfortably in most Arabic speaking situations. They begin to understand the more subtle and nuanced aspects of the language through the study of a variety of texts including literary texts and excerpts from the Arabic press. They are able to correctly read these texts alone and understand them without using the dictionary. They begin to be able to write clearly and correctly (letters, descriptions, summaries of texts). They are able to compose simple summaries on familiar topics. They combine and link sentences into texts of paragraph length and structure. However, their writing style usually continues to be heavily influenced by their first language.
The students’ speaking skills at the end of this course allow them to converse on topics related to employment, current events, and topics of public and community interest. They are able to narrate and describe in paragraph length discourse, linking and combining sentences. They may still use literal translations or have problems such as inconsistent use of verbal endings.
401-402 Middle Advanced and Upper Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
This level is suitable for students who have studied Arabic for approximately six standard university semesters. This course continues to develop the student’s knowledge of grammar and vocabulary to enhance speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Moreover, students will be introduced to stylistic differences in written prose. It is equivalent to approximately one university academic year of Arabic. At the end of the course, students should be able to understand fairly complex authentic texts, conversations, and other materials, and express themselves effectively and without undue hesitation in speech and writing.
401 Middle Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
This course includes extensive exposure to authentic materials to develop vocabulary, grammar, listening and speaking skills. By the end of the course, students are able to handle a wide range of communicative tasks and participate actively in formal and informal exchanges on a variety of concrete topics relating to daily experience: work, home, school, leisure activities, events of current interest, either public or personal. They narrate and describe, giving a full account with proper use of past, present and future time-frames. Relevant and supportive facts are often woven into the narration or description in paragraph length discourse. These students are able to handle unexpected turns of communicative events with relative ease. Vocabulary is extensive but usually generic in nature unless concerned with an area of specialization or interest.
The writing skills of these students exhibit a variety of cohesive structures in texts of several paragraphs in length and include a good range of vocabulary. Thoughts are expressed clearly and supported by some elaboration.
402 Upper Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
This course incorporates extensive use of media Arabic. Students completing this level exhibit no pattern of error in basic structures, either in speaking or writing. They are capable of expressing themselves and understanding written and spoken materials on a wide variety of topics. They are consistently able to explain and narrate in detail with accurate use of time frames. The students learn to handle complex communicative tasks by using strategies such as paraphrasing, circumlocution and illustration. They use precise vocabulary and intonation. They can explain complex matters in detail and create complex sentences using connectors and relative clauses.
At the end of this course, students can write on a variety of topics with significant precision and detail. They can handle formal and informal correspondence while respecting appropriate conventions. They can write summaries and reports of a factual nature. They may write extensively on areas of particular interest or special areas of competence. They have a solid control of time-frames and correct verbal use. They are understood without difficulty by native speakers even if this may require some repetition or rephrasing. They regularly supply paragraph-length discourse.
501-502 Very High Advanced and First Level Superior Modern Standard Arabic
This level is suitable for students who have studied Arabic for approximately eight standard semesters. This course continues to develop the student’s knowledge of grammar and language use, with written, spoken and listening skills approaching those of a native speaker. Students communicate with accuracy and fluency, adapting the register to the topic and audience. The course is equivalent to approximately one university academic year of Arabic.
501 Very High Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
This course incorporates exclusive use of authentic materials. Students completing this level are able to create lengthy professional level discourse on a wide variety of topics, including specialized areas which they have studied. They are able to discuss concrete and abstract subjects with accuracy and fluency. Any errors will not distract a native speaker or interfere with understanding. They are able to follow and participate in conversations on complex subjects as well as to analyze and discuss them in speech and writing. They are consistently able to explain and narrate in detail. They are able to discuss topics in detail, particularly those related to their field of expertise.
In their writing, they are able to present and support opinions by developing cogent arguments and hypotheses. They correctly and effectively use structure, lexicon and writing protocols. They exhibit no pattern of errors.
502 First Level Superior Modern Standard Arabic
This course also incorporates exclusive use of authentic materials. Students completing this level demonstrate a high level of control of grammar and syntax, both in speaking and writing, and both in general and specialized use of vocabulary, spelling, cohesive devices and punctuation. Their vocabulary is precise and varied. In speaking, students who have completed this level are able to produce extended discourse without lengthy hesitation, even in abstract elaborations. They employ a number of interactive and discourse strategies, such as turn-taking and separating main ideas from supporting ideas. They are able to handle a number of issues of interest to them, such as social and political issues, and to provide structured arguments to support their opinions. They are able to construct and develop hypotheses to explore alternative possibilities. Their use of language demonstrates an understanding of the underlying culture.