Program Details (Our Approach to Arabic Learning)

The Kelsey Approach

Our driving emphasis is on communication.  We want our students to communicate in Arabic with accuracy and cultural sensitivity.

Knowing the Arabic alphabet in advance is not necessary. We teach two kinds of Arabic at Kelsey: Jordanian “spoken” Arabic[1] and Modern Standard Arabic[2]. We consider “Spoken” Arabic and MSA to be two separate languages in terms of vocabulary, grammar, context of use and syntax. However Middle Eastern societies use “spoken” Arabic and MSA simultaneously in daily life[3]. Therefore, for foreigners to function normally in this region in the long run, the acquisition of both languages is essential.

At Kelsey we begin with an oral approach to the language, because we want to speed up your acquisition of “spoken” Arabic initially as much as possible. Accordingly, 1st semester students are initially taught to use a western script to phonetically record the spoken language. This strategy greatly increases the speed of your acquisition of “spoken” Arabic in this initial phase, and we consider it to be essential for the building of relationships between you and locals that will last for the duration of your language learning process. At the same time you will be introduced to the Arabic script, and by your 2nd semester you are expected to begin the transition of using the Arabic script instead of the western script as your exposure to MSA slowly increases. By the time you reach your 3rd and 4th semesters with us, you should begin to see how Middle Easterners use these two very different forms of Arabic in a practical sense as one language.  Then by the time you finish our full course, you should be functionally literate in MSA and begin to use it to grow deeper as a communicator of “spoken” Arabic.

Sound complicated? Learning Arabic is in fact a very difficult and challenging process, but with Kelsey’s approach, experience, excellent materials and God’s grace over your life, we expect your language learning process to be not only successful, but also rewarding and empowering. For more information on KAP’s approach to Arabic study please see Kelsey Arabic Levels (KAL).

[1] Also known as the Levatine dialect or Ammiya.

[2] Also known as MSA or Classical. Please note that some people would more specifically classify Classical Arabic as yet another form of written Arabic used only in Ancient texts, whereas MSA is the Modern form of written Arabic.

[3] This phenomenon is referred to by linguists as “diglossia”, which refers to a sociolinguistic phenomenon in which different varieties of a language exist and are used by members of that society depending upon social contexts. In the case of Arabic, MSA and/or Classical is used for all written communication and is spoken only in formal educational, religious, and political contexts, as well as in most forms of spoken media. Whereas “spoken” Arabic is used in all other contexts. Furthermore, there are also many contexts in which Arabs use a blend of both MSA and various dialects of “spoken” Arabic, such as in sermons at church or in Bible studies. Because of this, no serious student of Arabic can really choose one or the other but needs to focus significant attention to both MSA and a “spoken” dialect like ours here in Jordan.