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) in an integrated approach. This is the dialect spoken in Jordan, where Sijal is located, but it is part of the dialect family which stretches across Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon. Students with proficiency in colloquial Levantine Arabic are able to communicate across the Arab world.
The intensive curriculum of the Fall and Spring semesters offers 14 class hours a week, in addition to weekly cultural activities and lectures. Each semester is equivalent to a full academic year of university Arabic study and covers the same topics and breadth of material as the most rigorous courses. Unlike many Arabic programs (which focus solely on Modern Standard Arabic or Classical 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 for the beginner and intermediate levels is based on the best-selling series from Georgetown University Press, Al-Kitaab fii Ta'allum al-’Arabiyya (Brustad, Al-Batal, Al-Tonsi), Third ed., the most widely used Arabic language textbooks in schools and universities in North America. This textbook integrates Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Arabic at its base. Additionally, the series includes 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 materials developed here at Sijal. The Colloquial curriculum is primarily task-based and uses authentic materials, so students encounter the language with the full richness that a native speaker would use.
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.
Build a strong foundation in all skills in Arabic (listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar)
Introduce cultural and linguistic awareness
Read and write in the Arabic alphabet
Recognize all the Arabic sounds and make marked progress in pronouncing them properly
Begin to use courteous and culturally appropriate expressions
Initiate and end basic social interactions, exchange information and be aware of essential cultural aspects of social interactions in the Arabic speaking world.
Command an active vocabulary of approximately 650 words
Expand their vocabulary using the root/pattern system and the Arabic dictionary
Use a computer to type in Arabic
Differentiate between formal and spoken Arabic, recognize both registers and begin to develop the awareness of when each register would be appropriate to use
Recognize and use verbs in all major tenses
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
Understand main ideas and some details when listening to basic audio/video texts, short conversations and some media pertaining to familiar topics
Understand main ideas and many details in some written texts containing familiar vocabulary in both formal Arabic and colloquial Arabic
Write simple paragraphs in Arabic about familiar topics or experiences (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.
Expand active vocabulary and commonly used formal expressions
Engage with a wide variety of texts and topics
Speak about personal and some academic topics using all basic grammatical forms and tenses.
Speak using complete sentences linked together by connectors and move towards speaking in complete paragraphs
Listen and understand some extended, authentic speech on a variety of familiar and some unfamiliar topics delivered at a normal speed
Read and comprehend the core information of many general and some specific texts, usually from 1-3 pages in length
Continue to develop their ability to use the root and pattern system to guess new words and incorporate learned words into their grammatical lexicon
Continue to develop reading skills and strategies to infer meaning, parse complex sentences, and prioritize different aspects of the text
Write and edit longer essays (approx. 150-200 words) of various genres (narrative, descriptive, explanatory) primarily in formal Arabic, employing the grammatical structures appropriate to formal, written contexts
Further their awareness of Arabic culture and history
Significantly increase their vocabulary and their ability to express themselves on a variety of topics
State and support views and be active discussants on familiar topics and some unfamiliar topics
Deliver presentations on a variety of topics
Levels Achieved: Successful students reach Intermediate High/Advanced Low on the ACTFL scale and between B1 - B2 on the CEFR scale.
Engage with authentic texts and programming while refining reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary, and grammar skills
Read and understand texts in both Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Arabic
Speak about a wide variety of familiar and unfamiliar topics using all tenses and forms, progressing to speech at a paragraph level discourse
Use appropriate cultural expressions to navigate both expected and unexpected social situations
Listen to longer video and audio texts (up to an hour) in both formal and colloquial Arabic understanding the main idea and most supporting details
Refine their ability to use the root and pattern system to guess new words and incorporate learned words into their grammatical lexicon
Read and comprehend the core information, supporting details and most implicit meanings of longer texts, moving into reading novels and complex essays, articles and documents
Regularly write and edit longer essays (approx. 400-500 words) of various genres (narrative, descriptive, explanatory) primarily in formal Arabic, employing the grammatical structures appropriate to formal, written contexts
Debate, make arguments and back up their opinions and the opinions of other with flexibility when discussing complex social and academic issues
Significantly expand their vocabulary to express themselves in multiple registers on a wide variety of complex subjects
Demonstrate wide knowledge of recent local and regional Arabic news media, culture and history
Levels Achieved: Successful students reach Advanced Mid-High/Superior on the ACTFL scale and between B2 - C1 on the CEFR scale.