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    Hi everyone - I'd be really grateful for any honest perspectives on this from people who've studied Arabic at SOAS.

    I've just been offered an unexpected opportunity to join a new course, (it's quite a last minute thing they've put together) - an MA in History and Arabic. The Arabic modules will be intensive, and it sounds like we'll be bolted on to the undergraduate intensive Arabic modules. We would take two of these in the first year, along with two history modules, one Arabic module over the summer, and another in the final year along with the last three history modules.

    I'm trying to get a better idea of what the workload and learning experience would be like. I've heard dire things about 30% drop-out rates and crazy workloads. I'm wondering specifically:

    1. Are there about 15 hours of classroom teaching for the Arabic units per week?
    2. How much independent study do most do/are you expected to do on top of that?
    3. Are these just term-time hours? How heavy is the Arabic workload during the vacations?
    4. If anyone studied Arabic with another subject, how was that experience? Was it quite difficult to manage the two?
    5. I've heard that the course was quite dry and heavily focused on grammar rather than oral fluency - was the teaching engaging, or was it a struggle to stay awake?
    6. What was your level of Arabic after four of these intensive modules? How good were you, and has it helped at all with job prospects?

    Many thanks for any information!
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    From my experience of speaking with SOAS Arabic students, I'm not impressed. I did my Arabic with the Ibn Jabal Institute (which is just down the road from SOAS on Oxford Street, incidentally). They've got these summer intensive courses that teach pretty much all the grammar you need to know in 3 weeks. After that, you move to Level 2, which is another three weeks of translating texts, and learning some other smaller grammatical rules. Their Level 3 course is where it gets interesting though, when they teach Balagha (Rhetoric). That's another 3 weeks of learning the rules of rhetoric and studying poetry. Those classes are taught entirely in Arabic. They're not an accredited institution though, so although you'll come out with really good Arabic, you won't have any certification other than your knowledge

    In my class, there were a number of students from SOAS and our teacher told us that, in general, he wasn't impressed with the quality of Arabic from SOAS students. Those Summer intensive classes are intense though - so if you can't hack it, don't try. But now uni's started, you can probably get on their part time courses.

    As to the type of Arabic they teach - classical Arabic, fusha, and they don't focus on speaking as much, more understanding the language.

    Sorry that I didn't answer any of your questions.
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    I will back up AYusfC. I graduated from SOAS with a first in Arabic in 2004.

    I strongly advise against doing BA Arabic at SOAS. Things may have improved since my time and I am happy to be corrected.

    I was disappointed how superficial the material covered there was. I would advise someone wanting to learn Arabic to take a gap year and attend an institution in a Arab country or to attend one of the many institutions that teach Arabic across the UK.

    For literature just get a book like Gibb's introduction and use it as a guide.

    Any SOAS Arabic student wanting help with their studies, feel free to get in touch.
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    (Original post by Kurdt Makdisi)
    I will back up AYusfC. I graduated from SOAS with a first in Arabic in 2004.

    I strongly advise against doing BA Arabic at SOAS. Things may have improved since my time and I am happy to be corrected.

    I was disappointed how superficial the material covered there was. I would advise someone wanting to learn Arabic to take a gap year and attend an institution in a Arab country or to attend one of the many institutions that teach Arabic across the UK.

    For literature just get a book like Gibb's introduction and use it as a guide.

    Any SOAS Arabic student wanting help with their studies, feel free to get in touch.
    But surely taking a gap year and attending an institution in an Arab country would be expensive?
 
 
 
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