SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Arabic 1 Intensive

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

The module provides a thorough grounding in Modern Standard (or Literary) Arabic. This is the universally accepted written form of the language throughout the modern Arab world, used in official correspondence, formal address, news and current affairs broadcasting, though not in everyday conversation. The main emphasis is on mastering the basic structures of Modern Standard Arabic as a means of written communication, particularly in relation to journalism. News broadcasts are introduced in the second term, and oral competence is developed through extensive use of language laboratory facilities as well as in small-group conversation classes, where some elements of colloquial Arabic are also introduced.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The module aims to develop a solid elementary level of competence in both productive (speaking/writing) and receptive skills (reading/ listening) in Arabic. Besides the four skills mentioned above, acquiring translation skills, both to and from Arabic/English, and some knowledge of cultural issues in relation to uses of the language also form part of the module requirements. At the end of the module, students should be able to handle basic materials in Arabic and produce elementary Arabic.


Total of 22 weeks teaching with 14 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

A graded internally-produced module is followed. This provides grammar, vocabulary, exercises, passages for translation and comprehension, and language laboratory materials. There is also a parallel and complementary CALL module.

Method of assessment

Two three-hour written examinations, consisting of passages for translation and comprehension, various substitution drills and other exercises, and questions on grammar (60%); an oral examination, listening and dictation (20%) and two mid-term tests (20%).

Suggested reading

Background reading
  • Crystal, David. 2004. Rediscover Grammar. Third edition. London: Pearson Longman. [Recommended as a general introduction to the kind of grammatical concepts that will be employed on this module].  
  • Ryding, Karin C. 2005. A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Weninger, Stefan ed. 2011. The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton. [Gives an overview of the family of languages to which Arabic belongs. Students are advised to begin by reading Part VI, which deals with Arabic specifically].


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules