Category Archives: Arabic

New Arabic Class

I’m teaching a new introductory Arabic community class at The Collective. We had a great time last night at the first session! The remaining four sessions are on the following Thursdays (all 7-8 pm at The Collective): Th. 2/22, Th. 3/1, Th. 3/8, and Th. 3/15.

Here is a recent article about a beginning Arabic class for fourth graders in Bozeman, Montana. The fee-based class was organized by parents who want their children to have a chance to learn foreign languages.

I was surprised when one of the owners of The Collective asked me if I’d like to teach a community class for beginning Arabic, because all my teaching experience has been in the context of colleges and universities, but I think community classes are a great idea. We had nine people show up, ranging in age from pre-teen to mature adult. It was a joy to rediscover the Arabic alphabet with members of my community here in Rhode Island.


Some Favorite Quotations in Arabic Literature

※ more favorite quotations welcome ※

On art, literature, and writing

Horses, night, and the desert know me

And the sword, the spear, paper, and the pen

– a famous line of poetry by the poet Al-Mutanabbi (known for his bragging!) from 10th century Baghdad

On education

What I want is knowledge of how things really are,

so must I not [first] try to find out what knowledge really is?

– from المُنْقِذ من الضلال / Deliverance from Error, by Al-Ghazali, a philosopher of 11th century Baghdad and the Arab empire

Knowledge is in the head
Not in the notebook
– Arab proverb

The king’s adviser had two daughters: the elder named Shahrazad, and the younger named Dunyazad. The eldest had read the great books, history, the ancient sagas of kings, and tales of past nations. It was said that she had collected a thousand books on the history of great peoples, and on the chief rulers and poets. She said to her father: Why do I see you upset, carrying worries and sadness? As it is said: “Tell the one who carries worries that worries don’t last forever. Just as happiness ends, so worries end also.” – from the opening story of الف ليلة وليلة / The One Thousand and One Nights in the Arabic Mohsen Mahdi edition, transcribed from a 14th century manuscript

On life

If an idiot wants to do you harm, disregard him

and leave it to time to teach him his lesson

And avoid dirty injustice, for when a mountain seeks to harm

another mountain, the aggressor will be ruined.

– Poetry in the Story of Jawdar, One Thousand and One Nights Mohsen Mahdi edition of 14th century manuscript

“There are two blessings which many people lose: good health and free time.”

– a saying of the prophet Muhammad, narrated by Ibn Abbas and recorded by Bukhari, a 9th century scholar (see Kitab al-Raqaq in Sahih al-Bukhari)

 On displacement

la anta anta wala diyaru diyaru

You are not you, and home is not home

– opening words in a poem by Abu Tammam

On love

You are the completion of my happiness

When you approach, good news alights, O Light of My Eyes

– a line of Moroccan malhun poetry (the subject of my dissertation)

On religion and spirituality

I fell in love; Is there anything wrong with love?
Love did not muddle my head
What did I and the others do wrong? How they revile me!
My religion is my affair and other people’s religion is theirs.

– by Abu Nuwas (Iraq c. 756-810) from Diwan Abi Nuwas al-Hasan ibn Hani, ed. Ahmad Abd al-Majid al-Ghazzali (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi, 1966): 265

On travel

lisan jadid, insan jadid

New language, new person.

– An Arab proverb on the effects of language learning

Arabic Programs

Here is my ongoing list of reputable Arabic programs for study outside of college classrooms (summer study, independent study). Please feel free to comment if you have experience with these or other programs that should be listed.

Egypt (Unfortunately, political unrest may render Egypt a poor choice for study abroad this year. Syria is not currently listed for the same reason. May Egyptians and Syrians be granted more political stability and civil rights.)

  1. Alexandria American Councils for International Education Arabic Overseas – This option provides intermediate level instruction. For U.S. or Canadian residents.
  2. Cairo



  1. American University of Beirut (AUB)
  2. Beirut ALPS Beirut


  1. Meknes AALIM
  2. Rabat



  • California: Middlebury Language School – This option is best for beginner to advanced students who want to focus on Modern Standard Arabic.
  • Maryland: Here is another option for beginner to advanced students who want to learn spoken Arabic alongside standard Arabic, and who are unable to study abroad in the summer.
  • Texas: UT Austin provides another option for beginner to advanced students (qualified high school and college students) to study Arabic in the summer without traveling out of the United States.
  • Wisconsin: Here is a program of which I would appreciate any news and reviews.

Arabic Teaching & Studying

Resources for Arabic Language Teaching & Studying

Downloadable Handout for Why Study Arabic ?

Arabic Language Resources by Dialect ~ مصادر بالعربي

  • I. Egyptian ~ مصري – MelodyTV
  • II. North African ~ دارجة – Hespress News
  • III. Levantine ~ شامي
  • IV. Gulf ~ خليجي – Qatar TV


Having started to translate my first novel from Arabic to English, I’ve been inspired to make a post here about translation. It’s a science and an art–tedious, but also very satisfying when you feel that you’ve succeeded.

Here’s a great article about translatability and the work of the translator.
For Arabic-to-English translation, see the premier blog by M. Lynx Qualey. For magazines accepting short pieces, see her post here.


Classroom materials for ARB 101

Today we have some computer-based exercises.

With your partner, run through the following in any order you choose:

  • Visit this image, click on it to zoom in, and answer the following questions. If you get stumped, raise your hand for help.

١ –

شو هذا ؟

٢ – Write some of the names, and any other information you find:






  • Open SignsInArabicAmended and decode it. If you and your partner are stumped, raise your hand for help.
  • Visit this page and listen to the first video listed:

    من دول العالم

Take notes with your partner. See how much information you can glean.

  • Listen to this Short Vowels Jingle with your partner if you haven’t heard it yet. Feel free to sing or hum along 🙂
  • If you have extra time, you can visit Sayidaty or Al-Jazeera and see how much information you and your partner can find.
  • If you’re a member of Facebook and have never looked at our URI Arabic page, check it out!