Summer Arabic Intensive
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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 and learn just blocks from the historic University of California–Berkeley campus.

The rhythm of life at the Arabic Intensive aligns with the norms of Islamic faith and practice. Classroom instruction occurs shortly after the dawn (fajr) and noon (Dhuhr) prayers. A substantive break between these periods of instruction allows time for collaborative learning, homework, the reading of texts, memorization (ḥifz) and practice of Qurʾān recitation (tajwīd), or for rest.

Given that the 2015 summer program coincides with the lunar month of Ramadan, students are invited to participate in the night prayer (tarāwīḥ)—a time that is accompanied by additional sessions on Qurʾānic Arabic and lectures for enrichment. Students who are not Muslim but are open to studying in a devotional (yet non-proselytizing) setting in which Arabic is taught as a sacred language are welcome at the program.

The Summer Arabic Intensive also fulfills the one-year Arabic language pre-requisite for admission into the undergraduate program at Zaytuna College, which aims to prepare students to access the classical Islamic scholarly tradition. This happens through a curriculum that begins with elocution, continues with systematic and sustained training in grammar, and culminates with rhetoric, poetry, and literature.

Students at Zaytuna take five years of Arabic (including the one-year prerequisite fulfilled by this Summer Arabic Intensive program) in order to earn a four-year undergraduate degree. The Arabic Intensive also offers an additional level of Arabic that corresponds to the first year of study in the undergraduate program.

Core Courses back to top

Introduction to Qur’anic Arabic

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)

Intermediate Qur’anic Arabic

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

Advanced Qur’anic Arabic

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)

University Credit back to top

The Zaytuna College curriculum is on par with standardized Arabic courses at major American universities. Providing six weeks of instruction (150 contact hours), the summer program meets the 120–180 minimum contact hours required by most universities for a full academic year (or 10 units) of language instruction. Though Zaytuna College cannot guarantee an automatic transfer of university credit (this is ultimately at the discretion of each university or department), we do help students meet pre-requisites by issuing an official letter to their universities or institutions describing course objectives and material covered in each course.

A Typical Day in the Arabic Intensive Program back to top

The standard schedule for the program will be as follows (in Ramadan, classes will be Sunday to Thursday from 12 pm to 6 pm, with a one hour break):

  Sun Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat
Fajr & brief
Fajr class
al-Arba’in al-Nawawiyyah/Hadith daily
(all levels together)
Day off
Day off
7 - 9 am
Two hours of class in 2 separate levels
Duhr – Asr
(1:30 – 4:30 pm)
Three hours of class in 2 separate levels
(during Ramadan)
Quran Study
(all levels together)
Integrated with Taraweeh in Ramadan


In addition to the five hours of classroom instruction, students are expected to spend an additional five to six hours per day outside of class reviewing the day’s lessons, memorizing new vocabulary, completing assignments, and preparing for the next day's class. Students are encouraged to use Arabic as much as possible while interacting with teachers and fellow students inside and outside of class.

Zaytuna College makes necessary accommodations for the month of Ramadan for students who choose to fast and participate in early morning and late night prayers. Students should expect community iftars on many evenings and tarawih prayers every night at local mosques.

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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