Summer Arabic Intensive
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Learn Arabic This Summer

The Summer Arabic Intensive at Zaytuna College is a six-week program that provides the equivalent of one year of Arabic language credit in an environment designed for concentrated learning. The program integrates reading, writing, and elocution at an accelerated pace. Students live in Zaytuna dorms and learn on our campus, located in Berkeley's "Holy Hill" neighborhood amidst a number of other religious colleges and just blocks away from UC Berkeley.

All students wishing to learn classical Arabic are welcome at the Summer Arabic Intensive, which is governed by all published College policies, available for review in the Arabic Intensive handbook. Zaytuna’s Arabic program seeks to provide a spiritually nourishing environment that supports Muslim life and religious practice, including norms of behavior that are inspired by Muslim tradition.

The Summer Arabic Intensive program provides 10 credits of college-level Arabic and fulfills the one-year Arabic language pre-requisite for admission into the undergraduate program at Zaytuna College. The Zaytuna College undergraduate Arabic curriculum begins with elocution, continues with systematic and sustained training in grammar, and culminates with rhetoric, poetry, and literature.

Core Courses back to top

Classical Arabic Grammar for Beginners

This course is an introductory text-based course in Classical Arabic intended for students with little or no knowledge of the Arabic language. It provides a grounding in grammar with a focus on morphology and syntax and trains students in reading, comprehending, and writing. This course will introduce students to various aspects of Arabic literature, which will enable them to approach the Quran and other classical texts and provide a solid foundation for further learning. During a six-week summer period, students are guided to learn the Arabic alphabet, vocabulary, syntax, grammar, and are able to understand basic texts. Additionally, students will be exposed to some aspects of the Arabic/Islamic culture, customs, and traditions. Further emphasis towards the end of the course is placed on the Arabic grammatical construction, with a focus on morphology, syntax, and oral competence.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Employ a wide range of frequently used Arabic vocabulary
  • Write short essays and letters
  • Make brief oral presentations entirely in Arabic and make use of authentic expressions
  • Read and comprehend verses from the Quran and short Prophetic traditions
  • Read and recite with clarity and basic elocution (tajwid)
  • Display knowledge of fundamentals in Arabic morphology i.e. verb and noun conjugation and derivation (ishtiqaqat) and memorization of the 10 verb forms (awzan)
  • Display elementary command of proper Arabic inflection (i‘rab)

Classical Arabic Grammar for Speakers of English

This course is based on a comprehensive grammar text designed for students who are familiar with the structure of the English language. The Summer Arabic Intensive Intermediate course at Zaytuna covers all the fundamental aspects of Arabic grammar. In order to promote the acquisition of accurate reading skills, this course places heavy emphasis on vocabulary acquisition, pronunciation, sentence structure, declension, pronouns, case endings, and the various forms of verbs.

This course consists of a systematic study of Arabic grammar utilizing Haywood and Nahmad’s New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language, a comprehensive text that instructs in the key aspects of Arabic language. Theoretical linguistics will also be applied when studying the various types of nominative cases, accusative cases, genitive cases, jussive cases, complete sentences, and quasi-sentences. Excerpts from actual reading assignments and lessons containing approximately 750-1000 words will prepare students for advanced textual study built upon a solid foundation. Any student intending to study in the intermediate level course must successfully pass a written and oral placement exam organized by Zaytuna College’s Arabic department.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of intermediate Arabic grammar and morphology
  • Display familiarity in noun and verb conjugation, roots, word types, and common noun and verb patterns
  • Display firm understanding of noun declension, parts of speech, and sentence structure
  • Analyze nominative cases, accusative cases, genitive cases, jussive cases, complete sentences, and quasi-sentences
  • Identify and apply conditionals and numbers
  • Identify and conjugate irregular verbs
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of various derivations (ishtiqaqat) along with their associated meanings
  • Read and recite with clarity and basic elocution (tajwid)
  • Display familiarity in frequently appearing particles in the Quran and the Arabic language

Classical Arabic Grammar through Partial Immersion

This course is intended for students who have successfully completed one year of college or its equivalent of Arabic Language studies. The primary text in this course, al-Tawdihat al-Jaliyyah, is a traditional Arabic grammar text by Shaykh Muhammad al-Hashimi. This text provides a comprehensive commentary on the Ajurrumiyyah, covering a range of topics, including the ten principles of Arabic grammar, as well as the structural formulas required to understand the principles of full declension (i‘rab). The course introduces the student to the focused study of Arabic grammar, and allows them to apply these tools to traditional texts found in the course reader.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Exhibit knowledge and understanding of a range of Classical Arabic and Islamic vocabulary
  • Understand vocabulary derivation, syntax, inflection and its signs
  • Understand passages written and presented in Arabic by completing comprehensive exercises
  • Identify Quranic grammar and analyze sentences using the rules of I‘rab
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of Arabic grammar and morphology
  • Read and recite with clarity and basic elocution (tajwid)

Transfer Credit back to top

The Summer Arabic Intensive is a WASC-accredited language program.

Arabic Intensive classes meet 5 days per week, 5 hours per day for 6 weeks, equaling 150 contact hours or 10 credits.  

Students may earn a 10-credit certificate for completing the Arabic program with a C or better (73%). Students who do not achieve a C or better or who opt to audit the program earn a Certificate of Participation if they attend the entire program with satisfactory attendance and effort.

Though Zaytuna College cannot guarantee an automatic transfer of credit, any student may request that the Registrar send the official course syllabus along with the student's transcript to any institution from which the student is requesting transfer credit. The Director of the Arabic program is also available to answer any questions about the curriculum and may be contacted at

A Typical Day in the Arabic Intensive Program back to top

The first weeks of the 2016 Summer Arabic Intensive occur during Ramadan. Classes will meet Sunday through Thursday from noon until 3 pm and from 4 pm until 6 pm. Students can use the hour break between class sessions for rest, group work, homework, or memorization (ḥifz) and practice of Qur'an recitation (tajwid). There will be several evening meals (iftars) on campus, and students may also have their iftar and attend tarawih prayers at local masjids.

After Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday, classes will meet from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm. There will be optional extracurricular activities such as hikes, ice cream socials, lectures by visiting guest scholars, and activities intended to provide spiritual nourishment and development. A weekly schedule of extracurricular options will be provided at Orientation.

In addition to 5 hours in class per day, students are expected to spend an equal amount of time outside of class each day of the week (including weekends) reviewing the day’s lesson, memorizing new vocabulary, completing assignments, and preparing for the next class. This is to ensure that students are able to meet the student learning outcomes for their course (see course descriptions). To assist student learning outside of class, Zaytuna provides experienced teaching assistants who are available after classes, and our instructors also offer office hours for help outside of class.

Program at a Glance

  • 6 weeks of study, 5 days a week (June 19, 2016 to July 31, 2016)
  • A stimulating curriculum designed around classical Arabic texts
  • Equivalent to one year of university-level Arabic (150 contact hours)
  • Comfortable accommodations in the heart of diverse Berkeley, California
  • A daily rhythm that aligns with the pattern of Muslim religious life
  • Enriching visiting lectures by distinguished scholars


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