Academic Programs 

Introduction to Arabic, Part I   (LG-597)
Fall 2003

A basic introduction to Arabic that assumes no prior knowledge of the Arabic language.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Thursdays, 7:00-9:20 p.m.
Dr. Steve BlackburnSteven Blackburn
Adjunct Professor of Arabic and Reference and Learning Resources Librarian

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9561 


Course Syllabus


Alif-Baa: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds by Brustad et al.

Al-Kitaab fi ta`allum al-`arabiyya by Brustad et al.


A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Wehr), edited by J M. Cowan

In this course students will be introduced to two modes of Arabic:  the “Standard” language based on the Classical Arabic of the Qur’an, and a spoken version “colloquial” from the educated classes of Egypt.

No one can be said to “know” Arabic unless both types, “standard” and “colloquial”, have been mastered.  This semester begins the lengthy process of doing just that.

It is difficult to learn a language when contact with the Professor occurs only once per week.  Accordingly, students will be asked to complete homework assignments by the Monday following each class; these may be sent to the Professor by fax or by email (the latter, of course, assumes access to an Arabic font).  Assignments will be reviewed, returned to the student, along with a new assignment, due the following class-time.

In effect, the attempt will be made to combine contact and “distance learning” aspects of education into this course.

Homework assignments will be graded; cumulatively they will account for 25% of the final grade.  Chapter tests will also amount to 25%; attendance and class participation, 25%; the final exam in December will also amount to 25%.

While ANY syllabus is tentative, every effort will be made to adhere to the following schedule:


September 11                           Unit 1, Alif-Baa

September 18                           Unit 2, Alif-Baa

September 25                           Exam, Units 1&2; Unit 3, Alif-Baa

October 2                                Unit 4, Alif-Baa

October 9                                Exam, Units 3&4; Unit 5, Alif-Baa

October 16                              Unit 6, Alif-Baa

October 23                              Exam, Units 5&6; Unit 7, Alif-Baa

October 30                              Unit 8, Alif-Baa

November 6                             Exam, Units 7 & 8; Unit 9, Alif-Baa

November 13                           Unit 10, Alif-Baa; learning to use a dictionary

November 20                           Lesson 1, al-Kitaab

November 27                           THANKSGIVING DAY – No Class Scheduled

December 4                             Lesson 2, al-Kitaab

December 11                           Final Exam


NB:  When learning a language, it is (infinitely?) better to work a little each day than to cram on weekends or over large chunks of time.  In other words, an hour each day of review and preparation during the week is to be preferred over spending the entirety of a Saturday or Sunday trying to catch-up.

Also, in learning a language, it is better to use your out-of-class time to work on material that has already been presented in class, rather than to “work ahead”.  Working ahead risks internalizing faulty linguistic input:  This is NOT a “teach yourself” course!

“I’m not here to hand out bad grades” is one of my mottos.  Every effort will be made to keep you all up to speed, that being one of the luxuries of having a small class.

Most importantly:  HAVE FUN!  Even though Arabic is NOT an easy language, it CAN be enjoyable.  I’ll try to make it that way; if you work, there is that much more chance of making it that way for yourself.         


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500