One of the primary objectives at Al-Salam Institute is to enable students to access the earliest sources of Islam directly, especially the Quran. A lot of emphasis is placed on making sure that students are able to progress in their study of the language whilst still dedicating just one day a week of their time.
We have developed a unique syllabus, a unique approach and a unique structure to Arabic studies that ties all six years of the Arabic language programme together, from Foundation level to graduation and beyond. We aim to strike a balance between applied Arabic, grammar and morphology in order to thoroughly acquaint students with the language. Aspects of Classical Arabic grammar and morphology are regularly taught in reference to a selection of Quranic verses. As the Quran is often the strongest connection that a beginner has to the Arabic language, it is often the most effective medium to transition students into a systematic mode of study. Rules and grammatical patterns are taught entirely in English to make sure that students are fully able to grasp the concepts.
We also know that language is more than just grammar. It can have artful constructions and expressions, proverbs, idioms and literary style. Focusing on the rules of the language alone can make study very dry – leaving little room for elevated expression. As a result, the second half of the Arabic module is taught entirely in Arabic. Necessity forces students to converse and express themselves in the language that they are learning, which improves reading, writing, pronunciation and comprehension immeasurably. This approach is the closest that we have found to replicating the kind of study experience that students would receive abroad in a native Arabic setting. Designated onsite teaching assistants provide help during classroom exercises in order to bridge the gap between the teacher’s Arabic instruction and the student’s correct understanding of it. Optional weekly Arabic tutorials take place online on weekday evenings to provide additional support to students and a platform to recap what has been taught in the classroom, and to discuss any homework set. Seminars with Shaykh Akram take place during the academic year and allow students to consolidate their notes and prepare them for a smooth transition through to Intermediate level.
Once students have reached a certain level of proficiency in understanding and communicating in the Arabic language, the focus is then on exposing them to as broad a range of texts as possible. The primary objective is to ensure that students are able to improve their application of the language through the study of contemporary Arabic literature and workshops on Arabic rhetoric and composition. At the same time, classical texts of Arabic grammar and pre-Islamic poetry are taught in the final years of the ISP to improve the students understanding of the language in a move towards mastery. Assessment and examination of the Arabic modules after the first year take place entirely in Arabic, until students are ready at the end of the Advanced level to sit exams in all modules in the language of the Quran.