Language Centre

Arabic (Modern Standard) Beginners Course On Campus

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Key information

1 term per sub-level; 10 weeks per term
Attendance mode
Part-time, on campus

Course overview

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the recognised means of formal spoken and written communication. It is used throughout the Arabic-speaking world on official occasions, in education and the media.

Arabic (MSA) Beginners is an on campus course and is designed to enable learners to communicate in Modern Standard Arabic within a limited range of everyday situations. This course is delivered by the Language Centre.


The course covers listening, speaking, reading and writing, using contemporary printed and audio/visual material. An appropriate balance is struck between learning the grammar and vocabulary for accuracy and communicative activities for fluency practice. Students are introduced to the Arabic alphabet - the shapes, sounds and articulation points of the most frequently used letters - and taught how to read and write fairly basic words and sentences. Students will acquire a vocabulary of around 200 words and be able to use fairly basic sentence patterns and expressions in simple everyday conversation.

The course is taught in Arabic and English. Students are expected to undertake about 1-2 hours of self-study on top of the class contact hours.


This course is scheduled to take place on the Bloomsbury campus of SOAS. See SOAS campus map.

Room details will be provided once enrolment for the course has closed.


Our course materials page shows you what you need to buy for this course.

Entry requirements and progression route

For the first stage of MSA Beginners (i.e. MSA Beginners 1), no previous knowledge is required. The progression route from MSA Beginners 1 is to MSA Beginners 2; from Beginners 2 to Beginners 3. Upon successful completion of MSA Beginners 3 you will be able to progress to an Elementary level course.

Please note, that each term, courses are subject to quorum requirements.

For course dates and information, please see our timetables.


Arabic (Modern Standard) Beginners 1

In this course you will:

  • recognise and use the Arabic alphabet
  • be comfortable with the pronunciation of the letters
  • understand the difference between feminine and masculine forms
  • use common greetings
  • introduce yourself
  • share your nationality, profession, and family
  • form simple sentences
  • describe things like your town and objects
  • make polite requests
  • explain what belongs to who 
  • ask basic questions
  • understand features of dialects
  • understand the iḍafa structure

Arabic (Modern Standard) Beginners 2

In this course you will:

  • talk about people and countries
  • describe nationalities
  • be familiar with MENA countries and their capitals
  • recall the numbers 1-10, then 11-100
  • understand conjugation and use of numbers
  • navigate a shopping situation
  • describe what you have and what you want
  • use gender agreement between nouns and adjectives
  • know the colours and how to use them
  • navigate a party situation
  • talk about holidays
  • use the days of the week
  • describe your daily routine
  • learn basic media-related vocabulary
  • understand the introduction to the dual and some plural patterns
  • understand and recognise past tense verbs

Arabic (Modern Standard) Beginners 3

In this course you will:

  • talk about yourself, friends, and family
  • use the iḍafa structure
  • understand the use of Arabic names
  • talk about living in the city
  • use plurals
  • talk about the weather
  • give reasons and expand sentence structure
  • use interrogatory sentences
  • express likes and dislikes
  • understand and use possessive pronouns
  • talk about feelings and opinion
  • talk about university and school
  • understand and recognise the present tense of verbs
  • expand the use of the definite article
  • apply feminine/masculine adjectives correctly
  • understand and use subject pronouns
  • use nominal and verbal sentences
  • use and differentiate between adverbs, adjectives, and nouns
  • consolidate vocabulary and structures covered

The above is an indication of content that may be covered over the duration of the course but it could vary depending on the level and progress of students in the class.

Contact us


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Related information

See the full list of Language Centre short courses in Arabic on the Arabic language homepage.

Image credit: Mario Cruz via Unsplash