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Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Language Contact and Email Address:

Taoufik Ben Amor


The Arabic language program at MESAAS is one of the largest and most successful programs of its kind in the country. Many of its students have gone on to receive fellowships for language study abroad and other awards.

The program offers courses at four levels, as well as graduate reading seminars. Each level is taught over two semesters. The content of fourth-year courses and seminars changes from year to year, so they can be taken more than once. This means that students can pursue the study of Arabic for five or six years if they choose, well beyond the four-semester foreign language requirement set by Columbia College.

Students are encouraged to consider taking an intensive summer Arabic course. See the description of the Columbia Arabic Summer Program in New York.

The department also offers a course in Arabic for Heritage Speakers (students who were exposed to Arabic at home or when they were young, but are not fully literate). The course combines the curriculum of First and Second Year Arabic in a single year. 

Taking courses in Arabic will allow you to fulfill the language requirement at Columbia.

The philosophy of the Arabic language program 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 us to do that, our courses aim to develop all five skills, namely listening, speaking, reading, writing and culture. Students are exposed to authentic materials (audio, video, and text). Our 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. Our curriculum is designed according to the Standards for Language Learning and the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.

Arabic courses in MESAAS have special registration procedures. Please check the website for more details.