(Original post by Anatheme)
Arabic at the University of Manchester
I - The city
Manchester is a quite a big city (depending where you come from of course), and it's really easy to find anything you need, from rare books to Halloween suits. Life in Manchester is pretty cheap, the city being full or students, supermarkets, restaurants and shops in general give lots of vouchers and there are lots of bargains for students, making everything cheaper. The campus is not far from the city and you can get a bus from Oxford Road literally every 30sec.
Manchester has great shopping centers
Trafford Center or Arndale, and you can also find lots of little cool shops by randomly walking
in the city. The public
transport-(no 's') is
quite effective, the number of buses is quite amazing, and you can also get a train, a taxi or a tram(just tram
to go anywhere. The city hosted the Commonwealth Games, so the sports
facilities are new and excellent, if you like sport, you'll definitely love Manchester.
The nightlife is amazing, due to the high number of students (from UoM and MMU) in the city. There are plenty of
nightclubs, and you can find the one you prefer quite easily. There are often lots of parties, and it becomes almost difficult to choose one! There are plenty of bars and restaurants, all pretty cheap and really cool.
II - The University
The University of Manchester was created in 2004, after the fusion of the UMIST and the Victoria University of Manchester. It's the biggest university of the UK, with 36, 000 students (undergrads and postgrads) and it's also the one receveing the biggest number of applications per year. Modern and old buildings are spread all over the campus, offering a great architectural diversity.
The John Rylands University Library is one of the biggest university libraries in the UK, and is split in two: there is one on campus, and another one in Deansgate, that will certainly remind you of Harry Potter. You can find books on almost every subject that may interest you, and it's definitely a great place to study or even relax (if you're a geek like me).
Outside of your course, the university offers
a wide range of activities, sports and societies to join. Sportno 's'
s is quite important in Manchester, and you can play in a hockey, football, netball team or go to Wales with the hino 'c'
king club, or even gono 't'
to France to ski during winter! Every society has something new to offer and there will surely be one you'll want to join.
I woud re-word this, doesn't quite make sense... I'd say 'Accommodation is based on three campuses
, they are based on three campuses (Fallowfield, Victoria Park and City Centre), and you can get anything from a single catered room to an en-suite self-catered one, or even a flat for your family. Choosing your accommodation may vary according to the location, the price and what you want of course, but there is a wide range and be sure you'll find what you want!
III - The department
The School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures is probably the one offering the widest range of languages and combinations in the UK. Indeed, you can study almost any language from Aramaic to Japanese, and you can combine a language with another language like French and Turkish, or with another subject, like Chinese and Business Studies.
Located in what I think is the nicest building on campus, the department has its own library, and has many links with other universities, such as St Benedict School (St Petersburg) or even the Italian Ministry of Education. Many teachers and member of the school also represent the university on national/international bodies, like Jocelyn Wyburd, chair of SCHML (the Standing Conference of Heads of Modern Languages in Universities).
The University has the Arab Society, which is a society open to any Arab and Arabic student. They organise a lot of social events, like parties, dinners, film projections and a lot more, but they also have numerous links with Arab countries, and can help you finding a job or a placement in Oman or Lebanon if you need it. They're all very friendly and it's definitely a great experience!
IV - The course
Surprisingly enough for an ab-initio course, the majority of the students are
Muslim, which may be daunting since most of them can already read and pronounce words, however, they will also be willing to help you if you have problems, and you will improve faster and better than you'd think. Depending on the modules, the number of pupils in a class will vary, but the course at Manchester being quite good, there are circa 50 students, split in three groups for the language classes.
Most teachers are Arabs or from Arab origins, so you will learn the language and the civilisation with native-speakers and people that lived in these countries, offering a more objective point of view on the language and the situation of these countries. Some of them are PhD students, other taught to universities such as La Sorbonne or Columbia, but they're all very friendly and helpful, very approchable and in general lovely.
You have 7 contact hours per week, 3h of language practice class, and 4h of grammar and linguistic. You will have 3 different teachers, which is good because you won't get used to a particular accent (my teachers are from Palestine and Egypt), and you can learn even more about the country.
The School makes a lot of efforts to offer students to study exactly what they want, and if you have any problem with your timetable, module choice or even your course in general, they are really helpful and efficient. You can easily change your course as long as you have the level/grades required, or any good reason (a friend of mine changed from German and Arabic to Arabic and Persian + Russian evening lessons).
You will also have one (or more if you have another subject) personal tutor that is here to help you with your studies, and with whom you can talk about the progress you made, what are your weaknesses and your strengths, or any problem you could have outside of your course.
For the moment, only one destination is available: Alexandria, Egypt. However, the teachers said it would probably change during the next couple of year, so you can probably expect to be able to go somewhere else! The year abroad takes place during the 3rd year, which offers you the chance to improve your Arabic as much as you can before going there (and you will need it!). It's also a good thing because you're gonna study MSA for two years, and won't get confusedby dialects when you go back to university. You will study Arabic at school, so you can improve your Arabic by learning it and speaking it with the Egyptians.
Well, as said before, the number of Muslims int he course may be a bit scary. They know Arabic better than you do at the beginning, they can read and pronounce pretty easily, they understand when the teachers speak in Arabic, well, it's a bit frustrating. But it disappears
quite quickly, especially when you start grammar, because no one has a clue about what's going on with grammar. If you've already studied (and I'm sure you have
) other languages before, there are sometimes similarities and stuff you can find in other language grammars, so finally, you're as good as them.
Then, having three teachers is sometimes confusing, because they don't really know what other teachers are doing, so you may learn the same thing twice
(which is actually quite good because you learn it even better), but it may be annoying at the beginning. Though, eventually, everything you learn fit with the rest of your knowledge and it's not even a problem anymore.
V - What you can have in Manchester that other unis don't offer?
First of all, you have to know that Manchester is (I think) the university with the largest international population, and that includes a lot of students from Arab countries that would like to improve their English and are willing to help you improving your Arabic.
Manchester has the well-known "Curry Mile", on Wilmslow Road, and there are plenty of Indian, Arab and other Asian restaurant, but also lots of shops, so that you can get some proper Arab food, or even Arab literature, films, music, even clothes! And when you walk down the street, you can of course practise your reading skills by deciphering what's written on the shops and restaurants windows.
The School also offer the L-PAL programme: Language Partnerships for All. The Language Center host a lot of English courses and lots of Arab students are looking for a partner to improve their English and to help you improving your Arabic. You will have a little brochure with several topics of discussion and the difficulty will increase progressively.
Finally, the University also organises "PASS courses": basically, students from 2nd and 4th year will help you improving your Arabic by working with you on your weaknesses, so that you don't get lost during a lesson and you can even reach top notch grades!