Why Do All AUCP Marseille Students Take Arabic?

Why Do All AUCP Marseille Students Take Arabic?


In addition to all French-language immersion, AUCP Marseille students take a step further into the diverse culture of their host city, learning about the close relationship between French and North African cultures. To complement this learning and prepare students for their study tour in Fez, Morocco, AUCP Marseille offers all levels of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

But why? Learning Arabic is an integral part of understanding the complex dynamics of immigrant and North African cultures in Marseille.  Linguistics is one of many ways that students can better comprehend cultural aspects of society, and ethnolinguists (specialists in the relationship between culture and language) maintain that perception and conceptualization influences language, and vice versa. For example, did you know that the word hijab or the veil worn by practicing Muslim women, means screen, or curtain? Revealingly, it shares roots with the word hajib, or gatekeeper. This understanding can aid students in understanding the reasons behind Muslim women choosing to wear (or not) the veil.

Students who are new to Arabic take Arabic 109 – Introductory Arabic Language and Culture taught by Maha Barakat, a Syrian professor who skillfully allows students to construct  a solid foundation in Modern Standard Arabic, emphasizing oral and written expression as well as the cultural values revealed in linguistic etymology and usage. Maha is also Senior Lecturer of Arabic at the Aix-Marseille University.

In the AUCP introductory class, she guides beginning Arabic students through Arabic alphabet and phonetics while rehearsing vocabulary and colloquial expressions permitting friendly, elementary exchange with native Arabic speakers.  Courses at Intermediate or Advanced levels are organized every semester in keeping with students’ prior coursework.

Immersed in Moroccan life for AUCP Marseille’s one week study tour to Fez, Morocco, students have ample opportunity to put their new language skills with their Moroccan language correspondent and host family.


Interested in becoming a true citizen of the world via a strategic mix of language skills ? Click here to download the syllabus for AUCP’s Foundational Course in Modern Standard Arabic, or here to see all of the courses offered in AUCP Marseille!  Or, click here to see some first-hand accounts of students studying abroad with the AUCP in Marseille.

Photo: Pierre-Yves Babelon / Shutterstock.com