Sajidah Ali, Level 1 Ibn Jabal Arabic course (2013)

Course: BA International Relations (2nd Year).

Level 1 Ibn Jabal Arabic course (2013)

Over the summer, I undertook a three week Level 1 Ibn Jabal Arabic course, with the financial help of POLSIS. In a nutshell, the course redefined for me the meaning of the word intense.

The standard of the taught course was very high, focusing solely on Arabic grammar, which in turn left no room for much else over the three weeks which I attended the lessons.  However, despite the hard work and intensity, and at certain times despondency at not immediately being able to grasp the concept of Arabic grammar, I have no absolutely no regrets for participating in this course. It has opened up my eyes to the beauty of the Arabic language, which I had always recognised but not appreciated.

Nonetheless, this course has only been the first stepping stone of many towards achieving my ultimate goal of becoming confident and fluent in all aspects of Arabic. I intend to follow through with a private tutor to reconsolidate what I have learnt as well as to assist me in putting the meat on the bones of what I now know, so to speak. What must be taken into account and personal consideration is the depth and complexity of the language itself; I cannot expect to now be an expert in the language or its grammatical application. However, I can be confident that I now have sufficient knowledge to confidently pursue further education in the language.

One of the highlights during my time at the Ibn Jabal course was coming across political commentary on the situation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in Arabic on the internet, and being able to read the statement with the correct application of vowels. Though it may be but a small step, for me personally, that was a major accomplishment and source of motivation in my journey. There were certainly times within the three weeks where I felt like the course was no longer for me, I felt dangerously pessimistic with my progress and ability to understand the content. However, upon completing I realise it was something I just had to see through. Just as English is a language in which I learn new things every day, I intend to continue this linguistic exploration and journey throughout the rest of my existence.

In relation to my undergraduate degree, the Ibn Jabal course has equipped me with a very solid foundation in understanding how to read and understand complex Arabic sentences, which will in turn allow me to understand Arabic headlines and coverage of news reports from the Middle East which may be lost in translation when reading the English equivalent. My dissertation hopes to explore ideas of how nationalism has shaped politics of identity in the Middle East, for which an understanding of the Arabic language will no doubt prove functional.

Course information