Modern Standard Arabic Language in Context: Competent Abroad

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Course Information
Arabic Language/Studies
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

Proficiency at a level equivalent to IES Abroad’s Emerging Competent Abroad, as determined by the placement test.

Additional student cost: 

Cost of textbooks


Research has demonstrated that study abroad can enhance every aspect of language ability. One of the most important general findings of this research is, however, that study abroad is most beneficial for the development of abilities related to social interaction. Students who go abroad can learn to do things with words, such as requesting, apologizing, or offering compliments, and they may also learn to interpret situations calling such speech acts in ways that local people do. In short, and logically, study abroad has been shown to enhance the aspects of communicative competence that are most difficult to foster in classroom settings (IES Abroad MAP© for Language and Intercultural Communication, p. 6).

Student Profile
Students who enter this course will have mastered most of the outcomes of the Emerging Competent Abroad level as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. Among other characteristics, these students are able to converse at a rate of speed approaching normal conversation. They are creative, spontaneous and self-reliant as they solve problems, interpret texts, negotiate, express their opinions, likes and dislikes in the culture. Although they still make errors and experience communication breakdowns, these students tend to resolve these challenges on their own. Students who enter this level can already understand a variety of colloquial expressions and slang, and are also able to understand a wider variety of native speakers from different backgrounds.

Students entering this level can succeed in a range of moderately complex university courses designed for native speakers. Before registering, they should consult with the appropriate IES Abroad academic adviser on course selection.

By the end of this course, students will have started to acquire the subtlety of expression and control of complex structures that characterize Competent Abroad learners. They master these structures and use the language to negotiate linguistically difficult or unfamiliar situations. Competent Abroad speakers understand local cultural attitudes, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns well enough to make an informed choice about which cultural features they would like to adopt or need to adopt in order to live harmoniously in the local culture.

Attendance policy: 

Class attendance is compulsory. Each student will be allowed only two unexcused absences throughout the course. For each unexcused absence beyond this there will be a reduction in the final grade. Students who are late to class on a regular basis will also receive a reduction in their final grade and/or disciplinary action.

Students should not exceed 2 absences in each (45 hours) content course.
Students should not exceed 4 absences in the (90 hours) Arabic language course.

Any additional absence would lower the grades as follows:
1 more absence = will lower the final grade by 5 %
2 more absences= will lower the final grade by 10 %
3 more absences = will lower the grade by 15 %
4 more absences = will lower the grade by 20 %

Any additional absences will continue to lower the final grade by 5% increments. 

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to achieve some of the outcomes for the Competent Abroad level as defined by the MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. The key learning outcomes from the MAP are summarized below:

  1. Intercultural Communication

    1. Students will be able to express their own ideas, perspectives, and arguments thoroughly and yet tactfully, using language proficiency, sociolinguistic skills, and cultural knowledge.
    2. Students will be able to perform any activity (social, academic, professional) a local student of their age, skills, and background would do with a considerable degree of success.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to recognize and appreciate the beauty and richness of language when they hear it.
    2. Students will be able to understand nearly all speakers on a wide range of complex topics, including their digressions, side comments, and humor.
  3. Speaking
    1. Students will be able to talk about abstract ideas and concepts, engage in agreement or disagreement, and defend their opinions with supporting evidence.
    2. Students will be able to use the language for a wide range of presentational and creative purposes.
    3. Students will be able to use an extensive variety of colloquial expressions and humor effectively.
    4. Students will be capable of varying their language to make subtle and complex distinctions (e.g. formality and informality) with a wide array of native speakers.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read and understand a broad range of academic resources and popular texts from the local community (print or online).
    2. Students will be able to understand the main ideas and supporting details when reading many works of literature and nonfiction with some assistance at times.
    3. Students will be able to recognize and appreciate the beauty and richness of the written word.
  5. Writing
    1. Students will be able to write academic texts that describe, relate, report, compare and contrast, analyze, and summarize with a high degree of precision and accuracy on a wide range of topics.
    2. Students will be able to distinguish between the written style and the spoken style, and will be able to use the written style effectively with little assistance.
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Class work, participation, homework and mini-tests - 20%
  • Average grade for weekly writings (CORE) - 20%
  • Project  - 10 %
  • Project 2 - 10%
  • Midterm Exam - 20%
  • Final Exam - 20%

Homework assignments
The students will have to spend 5 or 6 hours a week doing homework. (We strongly recommend keping up with homework by doing an hour every day instead of letting it build up.) The purpose of homework is that students study, research, and complete exercises in order to consolidate their knowledge of the topics taught in class. There will be weekly writing assignments. Students will be penalized for turning in assignments late.

CORE Program (Cultural Orientation, Acculturation & Re-entry)
The first class day each week, except on weeks 6 and 13. 
3 (project weeks) and on weeks 8 and 13 (exam weeks), students will be expected to hand in a written text with their reflections, opinions, and descriptions on cultural, academic, or touistic aspects of Morocco. Students can write about what they did during the weekend, for example. In these reports, students should apply an intercultural point of view, and analyze similarities and differences between their own culture and the culture they are getting to know, considering “culture” in the broad sense which  the bibliography (Canale and Swain 1986, Sanz 1999, Miquel 2003) summarizes as “ The three Ps” from the most evident and superficial  (products, practices) to the most implicit  (perspectives).

Research Projects ( they must be presented orally, with visual support)
Project 1, oral presentation (individual or in groups of 2 or 3 students)

It consists of searching information about Morocco and/or other places in North Africa and telling the class about it, using the communication tools reviewed and learned in class. The kind of research will depend on the interest of the students, so the subject will be chosen by each of them. It may be about museums, places for shopping or eating, parks and squares, bars, visual arts, monuments, habits, neighbourhoods, poets, soccer .

Also take into account that the visits with IES Abroad to sport events, museums, the theatre, may be the subject for your project, too. So bring your camera and a note book with you, in order to record all the details. The presentation method is also chosen by the students. It may be through a role play, a poster, a turist guide book, a video, a magazine, powerpoint with pictures, a recording, performing a play scene, a game, etc. You should tell the teacher about the subject of your project and the technical requirements for its presentation (projector, TV, CD/DVD, etc). If you use powerpoint for this project, you will not be allowed to use it for the next project, and vice versa.

We recommend using hande made posters, so that a tangible product from your presentation remains, for other students interested in the subject to see. The day of the presentation you are expected to hand in a written version of it. This writing will have another grade, as the weekly writings. In order to obtain a good grade, it is advisable to show the plan to the teacher, either in classes previous to the presentation or during the teacher´s office hours.

Project 2, oral presentation (individual or in groups of 2 or 3 students)

It may be about: a more academic project (e.g. tell the class about what you learned in other courses, perform part of the play you rehearsed in a drama course, etc.) the trip or trips you made during the mid- semester break, a play you saw at the theatre, your visits to different neighborhoods in Rabat, your final research paper on a subject at your choice.

​In every case, you must talk with your teacher about the subject some days before your presentation, so that your work can be supervised.

For the projects, it is compulsory to make presentation in a formal register. (You will be expected to use special words and phrases to introduce the subject, to open and close each part of your presentation, to talk about conclusions, to close your presentation and open a debate, etc.) You should tell the teacher about the subject of your project and the technical requirements for its presentation (projector, TV, CD/DVD, etc).

Office Hours
Each student must meet the teacher at least twice during office hours. The first one will be before the mid semester break and the second, after the mid semester break. If the student cannot have these meetings at the time offered by the teacher because he/ she has another class, they must arrange another time to meet. The student must bring the books used in class, as well as any classwork or homework. Both the teacher and the student will talk about the student's progress, suggestions to solve difficulties, and any other matter that may help the student's learning. 

Week Content Assignments Corresponding Learning Outcomes

Al-kitabFiTa’allumAl-‘Arabiyya Part 3, unit 3 +

  1. Functional : Giving opinion and writing newspaper articles and analyzing…
  2. Grammatical : passive participle and numbers
  3. Vocabulary : Media and politics
  4. Culture : reading in historical books 
  • Observe the differences of behavior and attitude in the streets, in the stores, at home, compared to the United States
  • Quiz 1
I.A. I.C.

Al-kitabFiTa’allumAl-‘Arabiyya Part 3, unit 4 +

  1. Functional : Analyzing and discussing literature texts”poetry”
  2. Grammatical : Review of “Kan” and its sisters, and conditional
  3. Vocabulary : Literature
  4. Culture : Era of the Arabic literature
  • Students are given a list of 10 novels. They need to spend some time in a bookstore, choose a book and start reading it
  • Quiz 2

Al-kitabFiTa’allumAl-‘Arabiyya Part 3, unit 5 +

  1. Functional : Giving opinion and analyzing
  2. Grammatical : tenses of verbs
  3. Vocabulary : economy
  4. Culture : Reading in the Arab history
  • Spot the main ideas of a document and reword them
  • Quiz 3
I.CV. I.D. IV.A.

Al-kitabFiTa’allumAl-‘Arabiyya Part 3, unit 6 +

  1. Functional : Writing articles and analyzing…
  2. Grammatical : Noun verbs, subject, Object, and derivation
  3. Vocabulary: Religion and politics
  4. Culture : Reading in the holy book
  • Identify, in a very recent newspaper, an item on a current health issue, read it and give an account of it
  • Quiz 4

Al-kitabFiTa’allumAl-‘Arabiyya Part 3, unit 7 +

  1. Functional : Techniques of studying literature texts
  2. Grammatical : expression of cause, effect and purpose
  3. Vocabulary : idiomatic expressions
  4. Culture : The old historical literature
  • Act out a play created by students about a topic of their choice
  • Quiz 4

Al-kitabFiTa’allumAl-‘Arabiyya  Part 3, unit 8 +

  1. Functional : Writing articles, giving opinion, and describing places
  2. Grammatical : Active participle
  3. Vocabulary : feelings and emotions
  4. Culture : Moroccan geography
  • Compose a descriptive text. Describe a famous and appreciated natural site : landscape, vegetation, in Morocco / USA
  • Quiz 5
I.B. IV.A. IV.B.

Al-kitabFiTa’allumAl-‘Arabiyya  Part 3, unit 9 +

  1. Functional : give opinion, personal and historical description
  2. Grammatical : State
  3. Vocabulary : literature
  4. Culture : Islam and Family
  • Spot the main ideas of a document and reword them, field study report
  • Midterm Exam
I.C. I.D. II.B. VB.B.

Al-kitabFiTa’allumAl-‘Arabiyya  Part 3, unit 10 +

  1. Functional :Comparaison, history description
  2. Grammatical : comparaison
  3. Vocabulary : History
  4. Culture : Ibn khaldoun “Introduction”
  • Present  the book report to the class
  • Quiz 6
IV.B. V.A.

Extra material: Media Arabic

  1. Functional : Media Arabic
  2. Grammatical : give opinion
  3. Vocabulary: politics and media
  4. Culture : Arab spring
  • Prepare an oral argument on the topic of the documentary, comment, justify your opinion
  • Quiz 7

Extra material: Economy                                      

  1. Functional : discuss economy text
  2. Grammatical : passive voice
  3. Vocabulary : Economy
  4. Culture : Economy in Morocco
  • Present a bio dish you intend to prepare to your American guests
  • Quiz 8
I.A. III.A. V.A. V.B.

Extra material: Arab disagreements

  1. Functional : Comparaison, give evidence and opinion
  2. Grammatical : patterns
  3. Vocabulary : economy, history, and politics.
  4. Culture : « tribes » for arabs  
  • Write a summary of an article on trip you went on
  • Quiz 9
I.D. III.A. V.A.

Extra material: One thousand night and a night

  1. Functional : Relate stories
  2. Grammatical : expression of opposition and concession, description
  3. Vocabulary : historical
  4. Culture : Magic
  • In pairs, prepare a discussion on some situations in the professional world that the two countries have in common
  • Quiz 10
I.C. I.D. II.B. III .B.
13 Final Exam    


Required readings: 

The course is essentially based on materials from:

  • Kristen Brustad et al,  Al-kitab Fi Ta’allum Al-‘Arabiyya Part 3(2nd edition) 
  • Supplemental materials