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The College of Arts Sciences

Fulfill your language requirement by taking Arabic!

By: Ayla K. Cline, 
October 13, 2017

Looking to fulfill your language requirement for the College of Arts & Sciences? Consider taking Arabic!

Arabic is the official language of 22 countries and the fifth-most spoken language in the world. It is also one of six official languages of the United Nations.  In addition to its global political importance, Arabic opens the door to an immensely rich and diverse cultural heritage in the Middle East and beyond. Proficiency in Arabic also opens the way for many graduates to obtain exciting jobs in academia, the government and think-tanks.

The focus of the Arabic Program at Cornell University is on communication and on building the learner’s confidence through active meaningful use of the language to exchange ideas rather than on the intricacies of Arabic grammar. Students study from the ‘Arabiyyat al-Naas series, developed right here at Cornell (

The Program differs radically from the majority of Arabic-as-a foreign-language programs in its integration of a spoken Arabic dialect with Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in a way that reflects the use of the language by native speakers. Arabs communicate in a spoken dialect in everyday situations, and use MSA for reading, writing, and formal speaking. The spoken dialects differ from one country to another. However, if a student masters one of the two major dialects, i.e. Levantine and Egyptian, he/she will be able to communicate with speakers from other dialects. The Cornell Arabic Program introduces Levantine Arabic, and uses it for ordinary conversation and discussion, and MSA for reading, writing and formal speech.

In addition to the regular six-semester sequence of Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Arabic, the program offers a variety of courses including Qur’anic Arabic, Media Arabic, Arabic through Film, and Modern Arabic Literature. The Program also offers an elementary course designed specifically for heritage speakers of Arabic who wish to develop their reading and writing skills. The Intensive Arabic courses are total immersion courses designed for students who want to complete the Elementary sequence and Intermediate sequence in two semesters, instead of the typical four. A complete list of Arabic courses offered in Spring 2018 can be found here,