Arabic at the UofA

Arabic at Arkansas...It’s intensive!

The Arabic Program offers four semesters of Intensive Arabic. Each intensive, 6-credit course meets Monday through Friday, six contact hours per week. Daily exposure in the classroom coupled with daily homework assignments outside the classroom allow for faster attainment of proficiency in all four language acquisition skills: speaking, reading, writing, and listening. The intensive approach guards against attrition, which is a perennial problem in non-intensive language courses where students risk losing skills without consistent study. Intensive courses also allow students to satisfy University language requirements in two semesters, the minor in five semesters, and to reach a very high level of proficiency in Arabic. Students who begin studying Arabic during the freshman year are able to take three additional upper level courses even beyond the minor. Several of our students have landed exciting jobs in the government, the military, and financial institutions.

Check out a student made video about the Arabic program:

The Minor

The minor requires 15 hours in courses numbered 3000 or above. An advantage to these intensive courses is that students with no prior study of Arabic can complete the minor in five semesters and graduate with enough proficiency to work with primary and secondary sources in their majors at the graduate level.

Study Abroad

Arabic Study Abroad

The Arabic Program is closely associated with the U of A’s exciting Study Abroad Program. Students in the Arabic Program are encouraged to spend a summer, semester, or year abroad in order to experience the language in its cultural milieu and to learn about the diverse peoples and geography of the Middle East first hand. Students from the U of A’s Arabic Program have traveled to study in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, the West Bank, and the Gulf.

Middle East Studies

The Arabic Program is closely affiliated with the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies. The Center offers generous scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships to a significant number of students studying Arabic. Many Arabic students are MEST double-majors. For a complete listing of MEST majors, course offerings, and scholarship opportunities, visit the website or contact

Dr. Joel Gordon
King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies
202 Old Main, University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701

Eastern Dialect Project

As part of its pioneering efforts to introduce colloquial Arabic into the various levels of Standard Arabic offered on campus, the Arabic Program faculty along with associates in the field developed Haki bil-Libnani: Lebanese Arabic Online Textbook and Companion to Al-Kitab, 3rd edition, a comprehensive, web-based curriculum for learning Lebanese Arabic featuring video clips, audio drills, cultural lessons, and interactive drills and exercises.  Students also meet weekly to practice speaking the dialect in an informal atmosphere.

Arabic is Beautiful:

To look at...

 Arabic graphic of a cat made up of words

To hear...

Arabic is Rich:

  • Arabic is a Semitic language with a high derivational capacity.  Words are based on a three-consonant root, and all words sharing the same root have related meanings.  
  • Note how the words below, which share the three-consonant root K – T – B ك ت ب   are related to the “root” meaning of “writing.”
    • KaTaBa        كَتَبَ      He wrote.
    • KiTaaB         كِتاب     a book
    • MaKTouB    مَكتوب   a letter
    • MaKTaB      مَكتَب     an office, desk, or place for writing
    • KaaTiB         كاتِب     a writer
    • MaKTaBa    مَكتَبة     a library or bookstore

Arabic is Ancient:

  • Arabic developed in the region of today’s Yemen and Saudi Arabia long, long before the birth of Christ - how far back, no one knows.  
  • Pre-Islamic Arab poets had already developed a rich and highly sophisticated language system.

Arabic is Diverse:

  • It is the written and spoken language of the 220 million Arabic-speaking people of the 22 countries that make up the Arab world.
  • It is one of the six official languages of the U.N.
  • Its script is used by 1/7 of the world’s population

Arabic is Diglossic:

  • Formal Arabic
    • Called الفصحى “Fusha” (literally, “Eloquent Language”)
    • Literary language
    • Universally written and spoken throughout the Arab world
    • Used in literature, books, newspapers, television, and radio
  • Dialects of Arabic
    • Calledالعامية  “Amiyyah” (literally, “Common Language”)
    • Four major dialects:
      • Levantine or Eastern
      • Egyptian
      • Gulf
      • North African

Arabic is Fun:

  • Because all our Arabic courses are taught intensively (six-credit-hours per course) and meet daily Monday through Friday, students become very familiar with each other and with their instructors while attaining high proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and oral comprehension.  Close, long-term friendships are just one of the many fruits that come from the labor of studying Arabic at Arkansas.
  • There are also many activities for Arabic students to participate in outside class, such as the Arabic Table and Middle East Studies sponsored film series, lectures, musical and cultural performances.

Interested in Arabic translation?

For more information, look at Minor Requirements, Course Listings, and Study Abroad.