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Students use Modern Standard Arabic to work together

Arabic Courses

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the standardized literary Arabic understood throughout the Arab speaking world.  It is a modernized version of Classical Arabic, the language from which all Arabic dialects get their roots. 


Modern Standard Arabic courses at Qalam wa Lawh Center are taught through an immersive methodology.  Each Arabic course provides a minimum of 80 contact hours. 


Top reasons to Learn Modern Standard Arabic  

As Arabic becomes one of the fastest-growing languages worldwide, students from across the globe are asking the same question: Why should I learn Arabic? Here are some of the best advantages to learning Modern Standard Arabic. 


  1. Modern Standard Arabic is an official language of 25 countries (22 of which are part of the Arab League), making it one of the most spoken languages in the world. It is also an official language of the United Nations. With more than 250 million native speakers, Arabic is also the language of Islam, with 1.5 billion followers worldwide.  

  2. In fact, Modern Standard Arabic is closest to Classical Arabic, the language of the Quran and all Classical Arabic texts. In this sense, studying MSA gives students a window (or a magnifying glass!) to a wealth of history and culture. 

  3. Because Modern Standard Arabic is the language of most media broadcasts in the modern Arab world, students who study MSA will be able to keep up with current events through their Arabic study. 

  4. Similarly, students studying Modern Standard Arabic gain access to millions of books and articles written in Modern Standard Arabic on a variety of topics all over the world. 

  5. Although some people claim that Modern Standard Arabic is a difficult language to learn, one advantage of choosing MSA is the multitude of diverse resources and materials that help students learn the intricacies of the language. Because MSA’s grammar is so well-documented, students can use these resources throughout their studies. 

  6. Finally, Modern Standard Arabic is the common language that unites all Arab countries. By learning Arabic, students can better understand the Arab world and its diverse cultures.



Map of the Arab-speaking world

Modern Standard Arabic Courses

Qalam wa Lawh offers six levels of Modern Standard Arabic, all of which are offered on a year-round basis. When students begin their studies with Qalam, they join the course at their level and continue studying as long as they wish. Below are the options for the styles and programs available for Modern Standard Arabic courses: 


Standard Courses 

Standard courses are available during Academic Semester programs at a rate of 06 hours per week. (80 hours for the entire semester.) 


Intensive Courses 

Students taking intensive courses take MSA core courses with 20 or 30 hours per week of in-class instruction time. Intensive courses are available year-round in all Intensive Arabic Programs


Evening Courses 

For students living and working in Morocco, MSA courses are offered in the evening, as well. Each session lasts 10 weeks, with a total of 3 hours of class time per week (1.5-hour courses on two separate evenings). Evening MSA Courses are available in the Evening Arabic Program.

Core MSA Courses

Modern Standard Arabic Classroom

MSA 101: MSA Beginner I (80 hours, 4 credits) 

The beginner course in Modern Standard Arabic is designed for students with no prior knowledge of, exposure to, or experience with studying the Arabic language. This course will introduce students to listening, speaking, reading and writing skills as the standard means of communication in the Arab world.  It will also introduce students to many aspects of Arab culture. All class exercises and activities are either task-based or student-centered. This course focuses on developing students’ vocabulary in contexts used in the textbook. They will learn simple grammatical structures and will listen to authentic materials related to subjects featured in the textbook, newspapers and other instructional materials.   

By the end of the course, students will be able to read and write using Arabic script. They will also learn to correct pronunciation, learn to distinguish different sounds in the language and verbally communicate on a basic level.  

MSA 102: MSA Beginner II (80 hours, 4 credits) 

The Beginning II course in Modern Standard Arabic is designed for students who can read and write using Arabic script but have very basic understanding of vocabulary. This course will further develop vocabulary while introducing students to sentence structure and basic grammatical skills.  It will continue to introduce students to many aspects of Arab culture. It will introduce proper use of an Arabic dictionary.  All class exercises and activities are either task-based or student-centered.   

By the end of the course, students will be able to discuss some topics of both personal and professional interest such as politics, religion, culture, and economics. 

Arabic classroom -Intermediate

MSA 201: MSA Intermediate I (80 hours, 4 credits)  

Modern Standard Arabic Intermediate Courses are designed to further develop students' proficiency and communication in the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Another objective is to read, narrate and discuss authentic materials in Arabic.  A brief introduction to some aspects of Arab literature and Classical writings of the Islamic world will also be provided by the instructor on a weekly basis. 


MSA 202: MSA Intermediate II (80 hours, 4 credits) 

The main objective of this courses is to enhance the students' abilities to converse on a variety of topics (e.g. the press, literature, social aspects, education, etc.).  Students will gain a complete understanding of almost all basic grammar structures of Modern Standard Arabic. By the end of this level, students will be able to reach the outcomes and the objectives for novice-high level speakers required by ACTFL- Proficiency Guidelines (i.e., sustaining understanding over longer stretches of connected discourse on several topics, meeting most practical writing needs and limited social demands, and initiating and sustaining a conversation appropriate to a range of circumstances and topics). 

Modern Standard Arabic classoom -Advanced

MSA 301: MSA Advanced I (80 hours, 4 credits) 

Advanced courses in Modern Standard Arabic are designed to move learners from a stage where they have achieved all the basic grammatical skills to being able to use language in a wider cultural context.  Learners attempt to feel and emulate the educated native Arabic speaker. Reading and listening materials are extensive and vary depending on the themes that interest the learners. Learners prepare newspaper and journal articles and, in order to improve oral/aural skills, they also read a chapter from a book and present it orally in class, engaging in a panel discussion with other classmates. 


MSA 302: MSA Advanced II (80 hours, 4 credits) 

At this stage, learners will be widely exposed to the main issues related to the Arab world and Moroccan culture.  In addition, they extend their vocabulary through watching live TV broadcasts of cultural, historical and religious programs. By the end of this level, it is expected that learners should be able to participate in lengthy discussions and carry out a variety of communicative tasks that require diverse discourse strategies. Learners usually reach either Advanced or Advanced-Plus levels in listening, speaking, and reading, and Intermediate-High in writing. 

MSA 450: Arabic in Society (80 hours, 4 credits)

The Arabic in Society course provides students with the ability to communicate effectively and confidently with a wide spectrum of Arab society, gain a deeper understanding of Arab culture, and engage effectively in the local community through research and projects.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Below you can find some helpful answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our Modern Standard Arabic courses. 


Where is Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) spoken? 

Modern Standard Arabic is an official language of 25 countries in the world, including Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabic, as well as the Arab League. It is also an officially recognized language by the United Nations. 

However, most citizens in these 25 countries speak a regional Arabic dialect at home that is often very close to Modern Standard Arabic. And the majority of people in the Arab world know MSA, as well. 

Should I learn MSA or a dialect? 

Both Modern Standard Arabic and an Arabic dialect can be helpful while you’re living in an Arabic-speaking country. However, because MSA is the common language in the Arab world, the advantage of learning MSA is that it can be useful in many countries. Learning MSA would also allow you to read or watch the news in any Arabic-speaking country, as well, and anyone interested in a career in journalism or diplomacy would be better off learning MSA. 

If you plan to live in an Arabic-speaking country for an extended amount of time, though, it might be useful to learn the dialect of that country, too.  

How long does it take to learn Arabic? 

This is a difficult question to answer. The time it takes to learn a language can vary from student to student, depending particularly on how much time a student is willing to commit to their Arabic study. Getting started and taking the time to learn the Arabic alphabet is definitely the first step! Typically, students who study Arabic at Qalam wa Lawh and start at the beginner level complete all levels of Arabic courses in nine months to one year.  


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