Summer Arabic Program in Amman
- Complete one year of Arabic in one summer
- Courses offered include first year, second year, third year, and fourth year Modern Standard Arabic
- Intensive language courses, drill sessions, and individual tutorials
- Organized excursions and cultural activities
- One week independent travel break
- Learn survival Colloquial Jordanian during orientation
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is situated in the hills between the desert and the fertile Jordan valley. Ancient biblical sites, Roman ruins, and contemporary structures exist side by side in this modern and cosmopolitan city with a thriving cultural scene. With a diverse population and a reputation for hospitality, Amman provides an ideal base for students to learn Arabic and gain a deeper understanding of the region.
This nine week program helps students strengthen their skills in Modern Standard Arabic by offering intensive language training. All skills are emphasized in the classroom and during tutorials. Group excursions, cultural activities, and a week long travel break give students various perspectives of Jordanian society and different venues in which to practice their Arabic.
The program runs from the end of May to late July.
There is much to explore around Jordan -- particularly the small historic sites in nearby towns. Don't be afraid of exploring -- people are so kind and generous that they will always help you.
This was an AMAZING summer during which I learned more than I thought possible and loved every day!
The professor, the program, the class, the staff, the place, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT!
We accomplished many things -- travel, learning, etc. -- in a short amount of time. The quality of the course was great!
I had an absolutely amazing experience here and made incredible progress in learning Arabic.
The program is difficult, but absolutely worth it! The small size of the programs means that participants really bond through the experience. The professors are more than amazing instructors -- they really get to know you. It was incredible to be in such a close-knit learning environment. Very encouraging and lots of fun!
Please click on the links below for more information:
Faculty & Staff
Trips & Activities
- Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate student in good academic standing. Graduate students and post-graduates may also apply.
- No prior language study required for first year Arabic.
- Minimum 3.0 average language GPA
- Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
Students enroll in a Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) course at the appropriate level. The daily schedule is intensive. Students take MSA on Sunday-Thursday from 9 am to 1 pm, with Levantine Arabic integrated into the last hour. Total classroom contact hours are 160. Students have access to office hours held by faculty and Teaching Assistants. Third year students will also volunteer once a week with a local community organization. All courses are taught by Columbia and local faculty.
Third Arabic students will have the opportunity to volunteer with local non-governmental organizations to further their immersion experience. Past volunteering opportunities have included: Madrasati, Ruwwad, Al-Balad Theater, and a local radio station.
Students complete the equivalent of a full year of Arabic and are awarded 10 points of Columbia University credit upon successful completion of the full program. No credit is granted to students who do not complete the full program.
Colloquial Jordanian will be offered during the orientation period to introduce students to the local dialect.
Modern Standard Arabic, 10 points
Students enroll in one of the following levels:
Note: The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.
- MDES1210-11 First Year Arabic I-II
- MDES1214-15 Second Year Arabic I-II
- MDES 4210-11 Third Year Arabic I-I
Goals and Objectives of the Language Program:
The philosophy of the Columbia Arabic Summer Program in Amman, Jordan is to teach Arabic as a living language to a diverse body of students with a wide range of academic and professional needs. In order for to do that, the courses aim to develop all five skills, namely listening, speaking, reading, writing and culture. Students are exposed to authentic materials (audio, video, and text). The goal is to train students to be able to read and listen to primary sources, write on academic topics with control of registers, and to converse with Arabic speakers anywhere in the world. The curriculum is designed according to the Standards for Language Learning and the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. Through a language pledge enforced at the Center and during class periods, and living in an Arabic speaking context, the students will experience immersion in Arabic and Jordanian culture.
- Read and write in Arabic (i.e. be familiar with the letters and the sounds).
- Initiate, respond to, and maintain simple conversation on familiar topics, such as who you are, what you do, your family, and your studies.
- Read simple passages on familiar topics and understand their content with the help of a dictionary.
- Write simple compositions on familiar topics, such as your typical day, a description of your family, or your hometown.
- Start becoming familiar with certain aspects of Arab cultures and societies, especially Jordan.
- Discuss general and specific topics, such as traveling, mass media in the Arab world, and Arab universities.
- Understand the main points of lectures and radio and television news programs.
- Read and understand the main ideas of any non-technical text with the help of a dictionary.
- Write short compositions on familiar topics and express opinions.
- Research, discuss, and be familiar with a number of issues pertaining to Arab cultures and history, especially Jordan.
- Read and understand various types of newspaper articles (descriptive, narrative, argumentative, etc.), and essays and literary texts on various topics, with the help of a dictionary.
- Listen to and understand the main points of a speech, lecture, or news broadcast.
- Discuss a number of general and specialized topics and be able to describe, narrate, argue a point, and express opinions.
- Write cohesive and articulate summaries, accounts, and critical pieces about the same topics.
- Begin to recognize and use formal and informal registers in appropriate situations.
- Learn about the history, politics, cultures, and societies of the Arab World, especially Jordan.
Arrival in Amman May 27
Mandatory Orientation May 28
Classes Begin May 29
Break July 1 - July 9
Classes End July 28
Students Depart July 29
Please note that housing begins on the start date and end on the departure date. Students planning to arrive early should arrange for their own housing until the program arrival date.
The program is based at the Columbia University Middle East Research Center (CUMERC) which is one of the first in a network of Columbia Global Centers the University has launched around the world. The Center provides a base for scholarly activities throughout the Middle East and provides the University a unique opportunity to advance knowledge and learning on a global scale.
CUMERC is located in King Hussein Park. It is a modern air conditioned facility equipped with classrooms, wireless internet, and a cafeteria.
Faculty & Staff
The Program Director is Taoufik Ben Amor who is the Gordon Gray Jr Senior Lecturer in Arabic Studies and the Arabic Language Program Coordinator at Columbia University. Dr. Ben Amor holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Tunis.
Faculty members from Columbia along with local instructors will assist Dr. Ben Amor in the language instruction. Past faculty members have included Professors Ouijdane Absi and Abeer Shaheen.
Trips & Activities
Course-related field trips and cultural activities are organized to provide opportunities for students to strengthen their language skills and deepen their understanding of Arabic language, history, and culture. Sites visited in the past include Petra, Wadi Rum, and Ajloun Nature Reserve.
The program also organizes workshops or lectures to introduce students to the local art, music, or film scene.
Third year Arabic students will have the opportunity to volunteer with local non-governmental organizations to further their immersion experience. Past volunteering opportunities have included: Madrasati, Ruwwad, Al-Balad Theater, and a local radio station.
Students will have a choice between living with a host family or sharing furnished apartments. Generally, the program tries to secure accommodation between the center of Amman and CUMERC. In past years, student apartments were located in Deir Ghbar, Sixth Circle, and Oum Udhayna while homestays were in Fuhais.
Student Experiences (Student Comments)
The class was intense, which was expected. But the enthusiasm and patience of the professor made it so much less daunting.
The quality of the course was great. It was a lot of information to take in over the summer, but the instructor was very good about introducing concepts early and allowing them to be touched upon several times before testing on them. She also provided great ways to study and remember vocabulary and grammar. I felt in very capable hands!
This has been an intense but phenomenal academic experience. The speed with which we learned was daunting at times, but my language skills have improved dramatically and I've noticed a much greater confidence in my speaking skills. I attribute the success of the experience to the incredible guidance and phenomenal teaching skills of the instructor.
Our rental apartment was spacious and located in a wonderful, safe neighborhood close to a small but useful shopping center and a short taxi ride from the center. It was an ideal location.
The apartment was clean and in a great neighborhood. I felt safe and it was easy to tell taxi drivers how to locate it.
I adored my homestay family! Although the family lives outside of Amman, which is inconvenient in terms of taxi rides, the home and family were SO worth it! It added SO MUCH to my experience to stay with a family.
Possibly the best part of my experience here was living with a host family. I was placed with the kindest individuals imaginable. It was great that they had experience hosting foreign students. Though the house lacked certain conveniences (A/C, consistent hot water), the family (and the food!!) made up for it.
Activities and Trips
The trips were magical. There is not that much more to say about them except that I wish they would have lasted longer!
Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea were definitely the most amazing experiences of my life. I saw my first shooting star in Wadi Rum, touched my first camel at Petra and had an amazing mud bath in the Dead Sea. Priceless experiences.
Please go to the "Apply" page of the website (in the menu on the left part of this page) and select the summer budget sheet near the top of the page for costs.
Check with your home school's department, study abroad office, or scholarship office to see if any other scholarships are available to you. You may be eligible to apply for the following:
David L. Boren Scholarship:
Summer-only programs must be eight (8) weeks or more and are limited to science, technology, engineering and mathematics students.
Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS):
Find out who administers the summer FLAS program at your home school. Columbia students can check the following website.
Eric J. Posner Fellowship (Columbia Students):
The Eric J. Posner Fellowship will fund student summer travel to the Middle East. Undergraduates who are doing research for a senior thesis project are eligible. The fellowship will cover costs up to a maximum of $3,000. The application requires:
- Cover letter describing your research project, name of advisor
- Amount requested and Budget (please include all your expected expenses and information about other funding sources if applicable)
- Recommendation letter from Columbia faculty member (to be emailed by faculty member)
Application materials should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org and copy email@example.com. Indicate clearly which fellowship you are applying for in the email subject line.Other funding sources may be found on Study Abroad Funding.
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship:
This program is offered through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and is administered by the Institute of International Education. These grants to study abroad provide assistance to undergraduates who are current recipients of federal student financial aid and Pell grant eligible. Award amounts will vary depending on the length of study and student need with the average award being approximately $4,000. Undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at two-year or four-year colleges or universities are eligible to apply.
Summer Language Fellowship for International Students:
The Summer Language Fellowship for International Students supports international Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences who need to study a foreign language (applies to all languages) abroad during the summer. GSAS will endow summer fellowships with a maximum award of $3,000. Students can apply online (https://fellowships-apply.gsas.columbia.edu/apply/) and the deadline is March 4, 2016. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Columbia PhD students who wish to use the summer tuition credit must apply directly to GSAS. The instructions and guidelines for this award can be found at the following website: http://gsas.columbia.edu/content/summer-tuition-credit.
If there is a comprehensive Program Fee that covers both tuition and housing, please note that you will be responsible for paying out of pocket the portion that is attributed to housing. The summer tuition credit only covers tuition and not housing.
Graduate students from other schools should check with their home schools and their departments for funding.
Other Financing Opportunities:
For current Columbia University students and alumni, reach out to the Office of Global Programs and Fellowships to explore and apply for internal, national, and international fellowships. The Fellowships team will inform students about a full range of opportunities and help them determine which programs best meet their goals.
Scott Carpenter, Associate Dean of Global Education and Fellowships
Jodi Zaffino, Program Coordinator for Fellowships
For Columbia College & SEAS students, financial aid is usually not eligible to be applied to study overseas in the summer. Please note that different schools do follow different policies. For this reason, meet with your financial aid advisor as soon as you can to discuss your personal financial situation.
Withdrawal & Refund Policy
A student in good academic standing who is not subject to discipline may be permitted to withdraw at any time. Withdrawal is defined as the dropping of one's entire program in a given term as opposed to dropping a portion of one's program.
Any student must notify the Resident Director in writing; failure to attend classes or notification of instructors does not constitute formal withdrawal and will result in failing grades in all courses.
Any adjustment of paid tuition is calculated from the date on which the Resident Director of receives the student's written notification (see Refund Schedule below). Only a percentage of the tuition will be refunded.
Only tuition is refunded. Fees (application, transcript, housing, etc.) are never refunded, either in full or in part. All students who withdraw will be charged a $75.00 withdrawal fee.
Tuition Refund Schedule
Withdrawals processed will be refunded
1st week 100%
2nd week 80%
3rd week 70%
4rd week 60%
6th week 40%
after 6th week 0%
How to apply:
The online application includes submission of the following materials:
- Arabic Language Exam
- Arabic Language Questionnaire
- Official transcript
- Language Recommendation (for levels 2 and 3)
- Academic Recommendation for level 1
- Study Abroad Approval Form
- Application fee, if applicable
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis starting February 15, 2016. The final date for applications to be submitted is March 25, 2016.
Office of Global Programs
606 Kent Hall
1140 Amsterdam, Mail Code 3948
New York, NY 10027-6902
In the event of an emergency after office hours, please contact Columbia University Emergency at 212-854-5555 or Columbia University Office of Public Safety at 212-854-2796.