Academic Programs 

Introduction to Arabic Phonology and Script (LG-580)
Summer 2007

Students will master the writing system of standard Arabic, as well as the sounds of the language. A basic vocabulary of more than 100 words will be learned, and at the end of the term students will be able to engage in short, simple conversations. Both Levantine and Egyptian pronunciation will be covered. This course assumes no prior knowledge of Arabic.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Monday, June 4 – Friday, June 22, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3:20 p.m.

Steve Blackburn
Faculty Associate in Semitic Scriptures

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9561


Course Syllabus

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

Dictionary (optional):
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 “colloquial” version spoken by 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.

The class will meet three days per week, twice each day, during a total period of three weeks. Morning sessions, which will run from 9:30 to 11:30am, will focus on presentation of new material; afternoon sessions, 2:00 to 3:20pm, are reserved for quizzes, homework review, and student performance.

Since there are ten chapters in the textbook and nine days of meetings, we will cover approximately one chapter per meeting-day of the course.

The time between the morning and afternoon sessions is lengthy enough to allow students to review and work on materials presented during the morning class. Tuesdays and Thursday should be devoted to in-depth study and revision of homework, memorization of new vocabulary, interactive oral practice with the DVD presentations, and the like.

Your contact time with the professor in class is simply not adequate for learning and internalizing the material adequately. Substantial work outside of class is both necessary and expected.

Written homework assignments will be graded; cumulatively they will account for 25% of the final grade. While homework will be accepted at any point during the course, it makes sense from a pedagogical view to hand it in on-time. Homework also allows another level of interaction with the professor.

Chapter tests / the midterm will also amount to 25% of the student’s grade. While attendance and class participation are their own reward, they will also be taken into account, amounting to 25% of the student’s grade. The final exam will also amount to 25%. If you show steady improvement during a semester, then earlier, lower grades will happily be “forgotten” in averaging out your final mark.

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