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Literary Arabic Language Study Program


Coordinator: Mr. Ofer Efrati 


Dr. Arik Sadan, 

Dr. Hila Zemer, 

Ms. Sagit Butbul,


What is Literary Arabic and why study it? 

Literary Arabic is used in all Arabic-speaking countries, as well as other regions of the world. It is the language of religion – in Islam it is the language of the Quran, the Oral Tradition, law, mysticism and more. It can also be found in the religious literature of Christianity and Judaism. Literary Arabic is also the dominant language used in politics and economics, as well as in most fields of science and research (such as the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, medicine, and technology). It is also used in the arts, especially fine literature.

Understanding Literary Arabic is critical for using the media and the internet; especially in a world of global media and computer technology, the importance of Literary Arabic as a critical tool for communication is highlighted. Moreover, the cultural centrality of religion and its increasing strength in Islamic societies has led to a significant rise in the use of Literary Arabic around the world.


Course of Study 

In general, language studies include three courses:  beginners level in the autumn semester, intermediate level in the spring semester and advanced level in the summer semester.  Students with background in Arabic must take a placement exam in Literary Arabic, which will be held during the week preceding the beginning of the academic year. Students must sign up for this exam during the course registration period. Students with sufficient knowledge of Arabic will be permitted to omit the beginners course and join classes during the spring semester.


Beginners Level: 120 hours intensive 5-week course (pre-Autumn semester)

The beginners level is offered is an intensive pre-semester course called Foundations in Literary Arabic. This elementary intensive Arabic language summer program is designed for students with little or no prior background in Literary Arabic. The program consists of 120 instructional hours offered over the course of 4-5 weeks in late August through September (check the academic calendar for specific dates). Excursions to Arab communities throughout Israel and extra-curricular activities related to Arab culture are a core component of the program. Classes meet daily, Sundays through Thursdays, for approximately six academic hours.

For full details, including dates, course of study, and costs.


Intermediate Level: 12 weekly hours (Autumn Semester) 

The goal of this course is to broaden the knowledge of the standard literary language, and is intended for students with basic knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic. The course deals with the morphology and syntax of Modern Standard Arabic, as well as frequent reading of texts, both easy and unabridged ones, largely taken from current media. The course also aims to develop the student's other communication skills (listening, speaking and writing), based on the learned vocabulary. Upon completion of the course, students will have mastered the main grammatical phenomena of the simple and complex sentences and a vocabulary of hundreds of common words, sufficient for reading basic newspaper articles and literary texts. 


Grammatical topics to be covered include: 

  • Morphology and syntax: circumstantial phrases and circumstantial clauses, adverbial accusatives, ʾinna and its sisters, kāna and its sisters, dual nouns 
  • Verbal system: practice of sound verbs in the derived forms, the jussive and subjunctive moods, the passive voice, duals, double, hamzate and weak verbs 

Both Beginners and Intermediate courses are based on Foundations of Literary Arabic parts I and II, by Ms. Tikva Hasson, and supplemented by additional reading material. 

These textbooks are mainly written in Arabic. The explanations and instructions appear in Hebrew but will not be necessary for the course, because the instructors will utilize teaching methods that differ in pace and style from those detailed in the book. In order to ensure effective use of the book, the instructions for the exercises will be translated into English by the instructors and the explanations of various topics will be verbally and visually presented by the instructors and practiced in class. 

The dictionary required for the courses is Wehr’s Arabic-English Dictionary (The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Fourth Ed.). 


Advanced Level: 12 weekly hours (Spring Semester) 

The main goal of this course is to equip students with a level of proficiency in quick reading and translation (with the help of a dictionary), which they can apply to most available texts in Literary Arabic. It is intended for students with sound knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic. By the end of the course, students will be able to read a broad range of texts. In addition, students will strengthen their grammatical knowledge of the language and study new grammatical phenomena. Attention will be also given to listening comprehension and oral expression in Literary Arabic, based largely on the learned vocabulary. 

Throughout the course students will read and listen to a variety of Arabic media-based, as well as historical and religious, texts. Readings will be accompanied by practical application of grammar and vocabulary and by exercises of oral expression.


Grammatical topics to be covered include:  

  • Verbal system: practice of weak verbs, double weak verbs 
  • Syntax: various types of adverbial accusatives, conditional sentences, concessive and disjunctive clauses  


The dictionary required for the course is Wehr’s Arabic-English Dictionary (The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Fourth Ed.). Reading materials will be distributed during the course.  


Admission Requirements 

Qualified students with a Bachelor's degree from accredited institutions of higher education are eligible for admission to the program. Admission is competitive and based on transcripts and letters of recommendation. Students should have at least a 3.2 ("B") grade-point average or the equivalent.

Knowledge of English: Candidates who did not previously study at an educational institution where the sole language of instruction is English must submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores. The minimum TOEFL score required is 573 on the paper-based test, 230 on the computer-based test or 89 on the Internet-based test. The minimum IELTS score required is a 7.


Candidates are welcome to apply to this program in one of the following academic frameworks:  

Visiting Students are students who have received a Bachelor's degree but have not yet begun a graduate program.

Visiting Graduate Students are students who are studying toward or have received their M.A. 

Visiting Research Students are students who are studying toward or have received a Ph.D.  



Tuition Fees





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