85507 - Arabic Language

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Docente: Ilaria Cicola
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: L-OR/12
  • Language: English
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage (cod. 9237)

Learning outcomes

The course aims at making students acquainted with the basic structure of the Arabic language, with specific reference to economic and political lexicon, while educating to the knowledge and understanding of contemporary Arab culture. By the end of the course unit, the student is able to understand the declensions and conjugations of the Arabic language as well as to have knowledge of the main aspects of contemporary Arab culture.

Course contents

The course will be divided into two parts, which will be strictly interconnected: Arabic Language, and History of Arabic Literature.

Arabic Language

Students will be taught basics of Classical Arabic Language (CLA) and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in reading, writing, phonetics, morphology, syntax and vocabulary, so as to develop the necessary skills for an effective use of CLA/MSA in simple communication tasks, such as translating/producing short written texts and bunderstanding/producing” short oral texts. Basic grammar: main forms of nominal declension; first conjugation form of verbs (both in perfect and present tenses); so-called "deaf" and "weak" verbs. .

Some basic notions of history and sociolinguistic of the Arabic language, with special focus on the themes of diglossia and linguistic variation and diamesic variation. 

History of Literature
An introduction to the history of Arabic literature will be provided, from pre-Islamic times (VI-VII centuries) to the first Abbasid period (VIII-IX centuries). The following items will be paid special attention: relationship between civilization, religion and literature; social representations on gender, religious diversity and ethnic diversity as reflected in literary works. Moreover, literature will be analised in the context of the Mediterranean culture (its role, how it was influenced by other cultures, its evolution and heritage).



Arabic Language

  1. WIGHTWICK, Jane, GAAFAR, Mahmoud , Mastering Arabic 1,Third Edition, 2014 
  2. HASSANEIN, Azza, Modern Standard Arabic Grammar, AUC Press, 2010 
  3. VERSTEEGH, Kees, The Arabic Language, 2014
  4. Audiovisual materials from the Online Experimental Course "Sabily (Open Source), Lessons 1 to 10  .

Arabic Literature:

  1. ALLEN, Roger, An introduction to Arabic Literature, Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2012.


Arabic Language

  1. ANGHELESCU, Nadia, Linguaggio e cultura nella civiltà araba, (translation by Michele Vallaro), Torino: Silvio Zamorani Editore, 1993.

N.B.: Non-attending Students are kindly invited to contact the Teacher in order to agree on times and ways for carrying out their individual "context analysis" (see below, Section "Teaching Methods") and, if needed, to define personalized bibliographical suggestions in the light of their own individual learning project.


Suggested Readings For "Beginners":

1. For those who have no prior knowledge of the history of the Arab world, reading of the following handbook is strongly recommended:

SILVERSTEIN, Adam J., Islamic history. A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010 (Italian translation: Adam J. Silverstein, Breve storia dell'Islam, Rome: Carocci, 2013).

2. For the language part, no preliminary knowledge is required. However, anyone who wants to get an overview of the main issues related to the study of the Arabic language and the main features of this language is invited to fully read the abovementioned book by Kees Versteegh.

Teaching methods

Arabic Language

An original teaching methodology is proposed. The grammatical approach which is "traditional" in academic teaching of Arabic language, mainly oriented to develop student's passive skills in written communication (translation from Arabic into Italian), is combined with the mostly inductive and mimetic approach proposed by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Learning / Teaching / Assessment).

The latter's guidelines have been of course reviewed according to the peculiar characteristics of the Arabic language and the special objectives of the course.


In compliace with the guidelines provided by the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), the operational methodology will be further developed on the basis of a thorough “context analysis”. This will be aimed at identifying each student's individual educational needs, as well as their previous linguistic skills (included in languages other than Arabic), their own favored learning style, in order to build didactic projects as individualized as possible.

Assessment methods

Final Exam Structure

The final exam consists of two tests: a written one, with use of the dictionary, and an oral one.

Both the written and the oral test will be evaluated on a scale of thirty. The final mark of the exam will result from the arithmetic average of the results of the written test and the oral exam.

The written exam

The written exam will assess the student’s command of Arabic language, at the level required by the Course, with reference to the following main skills:

  1. Understanding written messages in Arabic;
  2. Translating written messages from Arabic into English
  3. Producing written messages in Arabic.

For these reasons, the student will be submitted some different tests (concerning the abovementioned different skills ( translating a short text from Arabic into English or vice versa; comprehension tests; completing sentences; conjugating verbs etc.). Time of the written exam: 3 hours.

The written exam being preliminary to the oral exam, students getting a mark lower than 18/30 will not be admitted to the oral exam.

The oral exam

The oral exam will assess the student's command of the material studied in the course. The student will be asked to provide a linguistic and historical commentary on selected texts among those analysed by the teacher during the course and will be judged on his/her ability to summarise and critically discuss topics raised in the course, making use of the exam bibliography and the course tools provided.

The assessment will thus consider the student's:
- competence in commenting on the selected texts, i.e. in identifying, translating and contextualizing them;
- knowledge and understanding of the topics covered;
- ability to summarise and analyse themes and concepts;
- familiarity with the terminology associated with the subject and his ability to use it effectively.

Assestments will be awarded following this principles:

The ability of the student to achieve a coherent and comprehensive understanding of the topics addressed by the course, to critically assess them and to use an appropriate language will be evaluated with the highest grades (A = 27-30 cum laude).

A predominantly mnemonic acquisition of the course's contents together with gaps and deficienciesin terms of language, critical and/or logical skills will result in grades ranging from good (B = 24-26) to satisfactory (C = 21-23).

A low level of knowledge of the course’s contents together with gaps and deficienciesin terms of language, critical and/or logical skills will be considered as ‘barely passing' (D = 18-20) or result in a fail grading (E).

Teaching tools

Textbooks will be integrated with a wide range of other tools, mostly relying on Arabic sources (audiovisual, press, literary texts, as well as religious, legal, economic and political texts).

Students with a disability or specific learning disabilities (DSA) who are requesting academic adjustments or compensatory tools are invited to communicate their needs to the teaching staff in order to properly address them and agree on the appropriate measures with the competent bodies.

Office hours

See the website of Ilaria Cicola


Quality education Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.