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Language Programs: Arabic

The Arabic Program in the Department of Modern Languages is the first major/minor program in Arabic language and culture in the state of Kentucky. Started in early 2014, it is growing swiftly. By summer 2016, over 50 students had declared a major in Arabic. Would you like to join us? We recommend you start your study of Arabic as soon as possible after coming to WKU.

  • Arabic is the 5th most spoken language in the world; one of the six official languages of the United Nations; the official language of 24 countries, spoken by over 400 million people.
  • Arabic is a Critical Language as designated by the U.S. Government, and one of the priority languages for recruiting by the Dept. of Defense, National Security Agency, FBI, CIA, and many other agencies.
  • Arabic is one of the fastest growing business languages in the world. Economic growth in the Arabian Gulf area alone is projected to be double the world average.
  • Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam. Therefore, over a billion Muslims in the world have a basic knowledge of Arabic, even if they have a different native language.
  • Arabic has one of the richest and longest cultural traditions.
  • Arabic was the language of science and philosophy long before English came into existence.Arabic has had a great influence on other languages. Urdu and Persian, for example, use the Arabic alphabet and approximately 10% of Spanish words come from Arabic.

ARBC 101 Elementary Arabic I

ARBC 102 Elementary Arabic II

ARBC 201 Intermediate Arabic I

ARBC 202 Intermediate Arabic II

ARBC 301 Advanced Arabic I

ARBC 302 Advanced Arabic II

ARBC 306 Experiencing Arabic Abroad

ARBC 321 Colloquial Arabic

ARBC 322 Arabic Translation

ARBC 323 Arabic Civilization I

ARBC 324 Arabic Civilization II

ARBC 389 Internship in Arabic

ARBC 435 Arabic Literature

ARBC 437 Advanced Media Arabic

ARBC 438 Topics in Arabic Media

ARBC 455 Topics in Arabic Literature and Culture

ARBC 499 Advanced Studies in Arabic

When Should I Start Studying Arabic?

If you are thinking about an Arabic Major or Minor, and you're beginning with no prior experience in Arabic, you should start FRESHMAN year. It is possible to start later, but this will be more difficult.

Is Arabic Related to Hebrew?

Yes. They are two closely related Semitic languages and share many grammatical features and vocabulary. If you have some background in Hebrew you will have a definite advantage in Arabic. Also, if you are thinking of studying Hebrew for Historical or Biblical studies, Arabic will help you a lot.

How Many Countries Speak Arabic?

Arabic is the official language of 24 countries, with 422 native speakers. Arabic is an official language of Israel as well as the United Nations. Many more people speak Arabic as a second language.

What Kind of Jobs are Available for Arabic Speakers?

The demand for Arabic speakers in government work and business is very great and the number of speakers is low. The career site Monster.com advises job seekers of all types add Arabic to their resumes. Arabic is one of the priority languages for recruitment by the CIA, NSA, FBI, Department of Defense and the State Department. You don't need to be a translator or interpreter, either. With the growth of business in the Middle East, the demand for engineers, nurses, accountants, sales managers and more with some proficiency in Arabic is great.

What Majors and Minors Go Well with Arabic?

As we said above, the demand for technical professionals in all fields in the Middle East is growing with the expansion of commerce in the Arabian Gulf and emerging democracies of the Middle East. Additionally, specialists in Political Science, International Affairs, Military Sciences, Economics and other Social Sciences face an increasing need for regional expertise and language skills. An Arabic major or minor on top of any major will make you much more competitive for jobs in the future.

Is Arabic a Difficult Language to Learn?

Arabic is no more difficult than English; many would say it's easier. Arabic has an alphabet of 28 letters, most of which equate directly to English sounds. Arabic pronunciation is far more standardized and consistent than English, however. Arabic also has no tones to master. In the Department of Modern Languages, we pay close attention to grades and expectations across all eight languages to ensure fairness.

What Course Do You Offer?

We have 17 Arabic courses, a number unmatched anywhere in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. First, second and third-year Arabic (101 through 302) are offered every year. Our upper level electives (Civilization, Media, Colloquial, Translation, Literature) are offered on a rotating basis (usually every two years), so that you can complete an Arabic major in four years.

What Type of Arabic Do You Teach?

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the international language of all written communication, the news media, education, literature in the Arab world. We also teach as a separate course Levantine Colloquial Arabic, the informal spoken language of Jordan, Syria and Palestine. Students who go on study abroad will have the opportunity to develop proficiency in a Colloquial variety of Arabic as well. Our experience has taught us that it is easier to learn MSA, which is the basis of all Colloquial varieties, first, and then add a Colloquial variety on top of this.



Primary Contact Person

Are you ready to broaden your horizons? David DiMeo is the Arabic Program Coordinator. Contact him for questions about placement, departmental exams, majoring or minoring, prestigious scholarships, and study abroad opportunities.




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 Last Modified 10/14/20