Study Abroad in Jordan: Intensive Arabic Language & Culture Studies in Irbid – Academics
Any seasoned language learner will tell you that learning how to say something simply isn’t enough. You also need to learn when to say it, why to say it and to whom to say it. At CET Jordan, Arabic language learning is regarded as multi-dimensional. Students learn to use Arabic in different contexts, with different people, for different purposes. Students learn:
- Modern Standard Arabic: This is what Jordanian peers are taught in school and what you’ll read in Arabic language newspapers.
- Jordanian Dialect: This is the language of the markets. But dialect is also heard on various cultural media outlets—television programs, films, even newscasts on occasion.
The program helps students navigate this diglossia. Language classes teach code-switching: when to use MSA and when to use dialect. Language partners provide extra dialect practice. Roommates are more than happy to advise on slang usage. And a language pledge keeps everyone practicing. Because practice, and only practice, makes perfect.
Finally, CET Jordan students learn about the world that uses Arabic: the context beyond the language. Middle Eastern Studies courses shed light on the region’s history and politics, Islamic society and Arab theatrical traditions.
Students return home with an in-depth knowledge of the region and one year of Arabic language study under their belts.
All students take the Arabic language course—Modern Standard Arabic. This course is based on ACTFL standards and includes some instruction of Media Arabic, the language that is commonly used in Arabic language news. 112 total hours. 6 recommended credits.
All students take the Arabic language course—Jordanian Dialect. This course targets the everyday language, essential for living in Jordan. The course launches the semester, meeting intensively for the first week of the program. In week two, the course continues at a slower pace and all other classes begin. 84 total hours. 4 recommended credits.
All students take two electives in Middle Eastern studies. Academic disciplines include archaeology, history, religion, international relations, theater and business. Electives taught in English offer social science credit. Electives taught in Arabic offer language credit. 45 total hours each. 3 recommended credits each.
All students may pursue an independent study in lieu of one elective. Independent studies may be conducted in English or Arabic and are overseen by a program faculty member. Past students have completed ethnographic or upper-level translation projects. Students are asked to submit a clear course of study to program staff before the semester begins.
Jordan Summer Academic Requirements
All students take the Arabic language course—Modern Standard Arabic. This course is based on ACTFL standards and includes some instruction of Media Arabic, the language that is commonly used in Arabic language news. 84 total hours. 5 recommended credits.
All students take the Arabic language course—Jordanian Dialect. This course targets the everyday language, essential for living in Irbid. The course launches the term, meeting intensively for the first week of the program. In week two, the course continues at a slower pace and MSA classes begin. 56 total hours. 3 recommended credits.
With the combination of the above two courses, students complete one year of university-level Arabic language in eight weeks.
CET Jordan is open to students who have completed at least two semesters of previous Arabic language study.
Language Class Placement
Arabic language class placement is determined by:
- The results of a written placement exam taken upon arrival in Irbid.
- The results of an oral interview conducted on site.
- The student’s transcripts.
- The student’s Arabic language ability as demonstrated in the Arabic language application essay.
Adjustments to placements are made during the first week of classes.
Language Class Levels
The program offers four levels of Modern Standard Arabic and three levels of Jordanian Dialect. Special accommodation can be made for students who do not place into one of these levels. The program might arrange special one-on-one classes for some students. Other students might attend classes with other international students enrolled at Yarmouk University. Bottom line: CET’s curriculum is flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of every student.
The CET Jordan language curriculum is based on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) standards. Students take an unofficial version of the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) upon arrival. At the end of the term, they take the official OPI.
The results of the two tests give students an accurate indication of their progress during their term in Jordan. Students typically progress two to three ACTFL levels per term. Official OPI results can also serve as an excellent résumé builder for students who plan to use Arabic in their careers.
Arabic Language Pledge
Because practice makes perfect, all CET Jordan students uphold a language pledge.
Summer students speak Arabic at all times. Semester students speak English during their social science elective courses only. They speak Arabic at all other times.
Students tell us that the pledge is challenging and frustrating at first, but ultimately well worth the struggle. Because the language pledge depends on the commitment of the students, CET accepts only those who are excited for the challenge.
Students take 20 class hours per week. They can expect to spend at least one hour preparing for every one hour spent in class. This curriculum, coupled with the program’s Arabic language pledge, results in an intense academic experience.
How do students survive? First, they mentally prepare themselves before departure for this challenge. Second, they soon discover language learners’ fuel: the thrill of discovering that you can suddenly express in Arabic an idea that, just last week, was out of reach.
One-Day Academic Excursions
The area around Irbid is rich with historic sites and cultural treasures. CET Jordan encourages students to explore every pocket of the region. To get things started, the program arranges excursions for students, language partners and roommates. Students might:
- Visit Jerash, one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world, boasting an unbroken chain of human occupation for more than 6 millenia.
- Tour Amman, Jordan’s capital, with its Umayyad Palace and Temple of Hercules ruins.
- Explore Umm Qais, a windswept village with outstanding views of the Golan Heights and Sea of Galilee.
Overnight Academic Excursions
Each term, CET Jordan students venture out of the city to explore the Jordan beyond Irbid. Students might:
- Take in spectacular Petra and marvel (as Indiana Jones did!) at the city carved into sheer rock face by the Nabataeans.
- Float in the Dead Sea, whose shoreline—at 400m below sea level—marks the lowest point on Earth.
- Bask in the sandy beaches of Aqaba, Jordan’s window to the Red Sea.
- Camp in Wadi Rum, one of the most spectacular deserts in the Middle East full of canyons, rock bridges and hidden springs.
CET Jordan wants students to get involved. The program offers countless ways to explore Jordanian life, practice language skills and spend time with language partners and roommates. Get your exercise by belly dancing. Learn about the Jordanian music scene. Or try your hand at calligraphy.
Not seeing the activity that you wanted on the program calendar? The residence staff is all ears.
CET Jordan students give back to their local community. They perform group service projects such as assisting local refugee populations or helping at an organization that battles illiteracy.