Study Abroad in Tunisia: Intensive Arabic Language & Culture Studies in Tunis – Academics
This is the time to be in Tunisia. It was here that one act of civil resistance inspired the Arab Spring. And it is here that questions about a new Muslim identity are ripe for examination.
CET Tunisia gives students the tool to explore Tunisia’s riveting transformation. Electives in Middle Eastern studies examine social, historical and religious implications. Courses in Modern Standard Arabic and Tunisian Dialect allow students to experience for themselves the host society’s dynamic undercurrent.
Outside of class, every aspect of the program takes students one step deeper. Practice Arabic with your Tunisian language partner. Explore a new corner of the city with your Tunisian roommate. Ask your Tunisian classmates how they feel about Tunisia’s political future.
CET Tunisia students return home with the confidence, language facility and nuanced understanding that show they were there—in Tunisia—where it all began.
All students take the Arabic language course—Modern Standard Arabic. This course is based on ACTFL standards and includes some instruction of media Arabic. 112 total hours. 6 recommended credits.
All students take the Arabic language course—Tunisian Dialect. This course targets the everyday language, essential for living in Tunisia. 84 total hours. 4 recommended credits.
All students take two electives in Middle Eastern studies. Academic disciplines include literature, history and politics. Electives are taught in English and offer social science credit. Tunisian students typically enroll in these electives, adding a cross-cultural perspective to the classroom. 45 hours each. 3 recommended credits each.
Students may direct enroll in electives at the University of Carthage during the spring semester. University of Carthage electives are taught in English and taken in lieu of the Middle Eastern studies electives listed above. Academic disciplines include literature and history. 45 hours each. 3 recommended credits each.
Tunisia 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. With this course and the Tunisian Dialect course (below), students complete one year of university-level Arabic language in eight weeks. 84 total hours. 5 recommended credits.
All students take the Arabic language course—Tunisian Dialect. This course targets the everyday language, essential for living in Tunisia. With this course and the Modern Standard Arabic course (above), students complete one year of university-level Arabic language in eight weeks. 56 total hours. 3 recommended credits.
There is no language prerequisite. Students of all Arabic language levels are welcome, even beginners.
Language Class Placement
Arabic language class placement is determined by:
- The student’s Arabic language ability as demonstrated in the pre-departure placement exam.
- The results of a written placement exam taken upon arrival in Tunis.
- The results of an oral interview conducted on site.
- The student’s transcripts.
Adjustments to placements are made during the first week of classes.
Language Class Levels
The program offers five levels of Modern Standard Arabic and three levels of Tunisian 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 the University of Carthage. Bottom line: CET’s curriculum is flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of every student.
The CET Tunisia 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 Tunisia. 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
The more you practice, the more you improve. Semester students uphold a limited Arabic language pledge. Summer students go the whole nine yards and commit to speak Arabic only for the duration of the program.
Students tell us that the language pledge is challenging and frustrating at first, but well worth it in the end. Because the language pledge depends on the commitment of the students, CET accepts only those who are excited for the challenge.
CET Tunisia is a study abroad program for serious students. Language classes move quickly and usually require one hour of prep time for every hour of class time. Electives require extensive reading. Out-of-class assignments help fill up afternoons and weekends.
How do students manage? First, they prepare themselves before departure for this challenge. Second, they discover the study abroad student’s fuel: the thrill of discovering that a place that felt so foreign upon first arrival now feels like home.
English-speaking Tunisian students from the University of Carthage sometimes enroll in the program’s Middle Eastern studies electives. CET students soon find that Tunisian peers lend a new perspective to class discussions. The arrangement sparks cross-cultural dialogue that often continues after class ends.
One-Day Academic Excursions
CET Tunisia encourages students to explore the host environment and see for themselves Tunisia’s merging of East and West, tradition and modernity. To help start the exploration, the program arranges excursions and lectures for students, language partners and roommates. Students may:
- Explore the maze of souqs in Tunis’s old medina.
- Tour the ruins of Carthage, and view the dramatic backdrop of Virgil’s Aeneid.
- Visit Zaytouna Mosque to learn about Tunisia’s unique Islamic Architecture.
- Listen to archeologists discuss layers of Tunisian history at the Bardo Museum.
Overnight Academic Excursions
Each term, CET Tunisia students venture out of the capital city to explore Tunisia further. Students may:
- Visit the island of Djerba, home to one of North Africa’s last remaining Jewish communities.
- Journey to Kairoun, Islam’s fourth holiest city, chock full of ancient wonders.
- Explore Dougga, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the remains of Africa’s most magnificent Roman ruins.
- Camp out on the beautiful dunes of the Sahara.
Tunis is a vibrant city with a rich heritage of music, art, theater and culture. Take in a performance at the National Theater. Roam a gallery with your language partner. Let your roommate show you where to buy a CD of original Tunisian music.
The CET Tunisia program also arranges structured activities that allow students to meet and interact with contemporary Tunisian writers, artists and filmmakers, or help students find their cultural niche—museum tours, cooking classes, oud (Arabic lute) lessons, political lectures by regional experts.
But after a long day of classes, sometimes there’s no better cultural enrichment than a visit to Tunisia’s beautiful Mediterranean beaches—always an easy taxi ride away.
CET Tunisia encourages students to give back. Students can engage in group community service projects at sites around Tunis. They might volunteer at local NGOs or reach out to help with refugee resettlement.