A beginner’s introduction to Arabic language and culture

Module details

  • Offered to 1st & 2nd Years
  • Monday or Tuesday 16.00-18.00 (depending on year of study)
  • Planned delivery: On campus (South Kensington)
  • 2 term module worth 7.5 ECTS
  • Not available as part of I-Explore
  • Extra Credit or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

A communicative module for absolute beginners, offering an introduction to the language and culture of Arabic-speaking countries.

This module aims to:

  • Provide you with an introduction to everyday language use, including a fairly-wide range of vocabulary and basic structures.
  • Give you the opportunity to develop all your fundamental language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in Arabic at basic level and be equipped with the necessary tools for independent language learning
  • Offer you an insight into some aspects of the culture and daily life in Arabic-speaking countries
  • Prepare you to progress towards higher language levels

By the end of the module, students should have reached approximately the A1+ level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

To be eligible for this module, you need to have no previous experience in learning Arabic.

Please note: The information on this module description is indicative. The module may undergo minor modifications before the start of next academic year. 

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

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On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Respond to and produce a basic range of spoken language in very familiar contexts
  • Respond to and produce simple written texts. In these, you will be able to apply your knowledge and skills of grammar and vocabulary at the A1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), and demonstrate the relevant level of intercultural awareness in your handling of everyday social interactions in Arabic and your use of language
  • You will have had the opportunity to engage with a basic range of digital language learning tools to support your production


Indicative core content

AlcazarIn this module, you will cover the following linguistic structures:

  • Articles: definite/indefinite (0)
  • Demonstratives
  • Nouns and adjectives
  • ‘Al-nisba’ adjectives
  • Subject pronouns
  • Gender and number of nouns and adjectives
  • The simple nominal (descriptive) sentence
  • Interrogatives (question words)
  • Negation (negative particles)
  • Plural patterns: masculine, feminine and ‘broken’ forms
  • Colour terms: gender
  • Prepositions
  • Adverbs of time and frequency
  • The possessive pronouns
  • The possessive
  • Structure
  • The preposition ‘3inda’ (to have)
  • The past ‘complete’ tense
  • The present ‘incomplete’ tense


  • The Arabic writing system
  • Family and relations
  • Positions and locations
  • Basic mathematics
  • Quantities, sums and measurements
  • Jobs, professions and workplaces
  • Describing people, places and objects
  • Geography of the Arab world
  • Countries, nationalities and people
  • The climate
  • Past and present activities


Learning and teaching approach

In line with modern foreign languages communicative and active learning methodologies, the in-class activities will cover all four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking). These will include pair work and groupwork (dialogue practice, information gap exercises, discussion), individual tasks, discovery and formulation of grammatical rules, work with texts, etc. Homework and coursework tasks will give you the opportunity to revise and consolidate your knowledge and skills and to develop your awareness of how to use language-learning tools independently. Our approach not only ensures you engage with a wide range of tasks and activities, but also seeks to support different learning styles.

All pieces of coursework are marked and returned within two weeks. Marking criteria and rubrics are included as needed with each coursework to ensure learners are supported to complete their work and aware of assessment expectations. Feedback is provided for each individual section of the coursework, giving the correct answer(s) along with suggestions for improvement. In addition to the number of points out of a maximum total, an overall percentage grade is given. Generic feedback on each individual piece of coursework is also provided in class.


The module includes formative as well as summative assessment.

FORMATIVE: Homework tasks relating to grammar and syntactic knowledge and the skills of listening, reading, and/or writing are set every week on the VLE. Students are encouraged to complete the tasks to get feedback from the course teacher and familiarize themselves with the assessment expectations. Additional self-study materials and guidance are also available on the VLE to reinforce learning and allow students to develop at their own pace.

SUMMATIVE: You need to complete two pieces of coursework (set during mid-Term 1 and mid-Term 2); two 1-hour timed assessments (tests scheduled at the end of Term 1 and at the end of Term 2); and one practical, i.e. oral examination (at the end of Term 2 or at the beginning of Term 3). Coursework and written/oral examination all contribute to the final grade.

  • Coursework (10%): Set mid-term (Term 1) on the virtual learning environment, it consists of listening/grammar, and writing (Full task: approx. 80 words, one week to complete).
  • Examination (20%): 1-hour in-class test, including reading, grammar control, and writing (approx. 150 words).
  • Coursework (10%): Set mid-term (Term 2) on the virtual learning environment, it consists of an in-class listening and speaking task on Microsoft Teams (five minutes each).
  • Examination (20%): 1-hour in-class test, including reading, grammar control, and writing (approx. 180 words).
  • Practical (40%): Oral exam at the end of Term 2 (approx. 10 minutes), including self-presentation plus questions and spontaneous dialogue, done via Microsoft Teams.

Key information

  • 7.5 ECTS points awarded on successful completion of the module.
  • Available to take for credit towards your degree where your department allows. Also available for extra-credit.
  • You must be prepared to attend all classes and and undertake approximately 3 hours of private study each week in addition to the assessment.

Coursebook: Wightwick, J and Gaafar M (2007), Mastering Arabic, Palgrave Macmillan, 3rd edition, ISBN: 9781137380456, supported by additional materials

Relevant websites:

"I have really enjoyed learning Arabic, and I think my lecturer can take a lot of credit for this. She was so good at motivating us to learn and I can't believe how much she taught us in just two terms. I hope to have her as my lecturer again next year for Arabic level 2."
"[The teacher was] very enthusiastic and encouraged speaking which is perhaps the most challenging part to keep up with outside lessons."