Academic Programs 

Introduction to Arabic Phonology and Script (LG-580)
Fall 2009

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. Assumes no prior knowledge of Arabic.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 5:40 p.m., beginning Sept. 9

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

(not required):
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.
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%. If you show steady improvement during a semester, then earlier, lower grades will happily be “forgotten” in averaging out your final mark.

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

Wednesday 9/9 Arabic – an Overview; begin Unit 1, Alif-Baa

9/14 & 9/16 complete Unit 1, Alif-Baa; begin Unit 2

9/21 NO CLASS – Eid al-Fitr

Wednesday 9/23 complete Unit 2, Alif-Baa

9/28 & 9/30 Unit 3, Alif-Baa

10/5 & 10/7 Unit 4, Alif-Baa

Monday 10/12 EXAM, Units 1-4, Alif-Baa

Wednesday 10/14 Unit 5, Alif-Baa

10/19 & 10/21 Unit 6, Alif-Baa

10/26 & 10/28 Unit 7, Alif-Baa

11/2 & 11/4 Unit 8, Alif-Baa

11/9 & 11/11 Unit 9, Alif-Baa

11/16 & 11/18 Unit 10, Alif-Baa

11/23 & 11/25 NO CLASS – READING WEEK

Monday 11/30 Review of Alif-Baa

Wednesday 12/2 EXAM on Alif-Baa

12/7 & 12/9 Lesson 1, al-Kitaab

12/14 & 12/16 Lesson 2, al-Kitaab

12/21 EXAM on Lessons 1 & 2, al-Kitaab

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