Arabic at a Distance

My “Intro to Old Testament” Fall ’09 session will be something of a hybrid course, incorporating many elements of distance learning. My Summer ’10 session will be entirely online. I have heard it said that, if you want to learn to teach online courses, then take a course online. This makes sense, and I’ve decided that if I am going to take an online course, it will be Arabic.

Why Arabic? Well, I’m already walking around with a pocketful of Semitic research languages (biblical and modern Hebrew, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Akkadian, Syriac), so I have a good foundation for Arabic. A look at the job postings is also persuasive: I don’t plan to change my whole focus to Islam or religious politics overnight or anything, but who in Hebrew Bible is not looking for reasonable means to broaden her appeal?

Searching for a course, it is not easy to navigate past all the commercial software packs masquerading as online courses. And, as usual, navigating school’s websites is useful mostly as an exercise in controlling one’s blood pressure.

I do find that University of California has a program. The timing is unfortunate (I have a really busy autumn term planned), but the course looks good.

Readers: have you taken a course online, and what was your experience? Are you aware of opportunities for online Arabic that I’ve missed? (Accredited, credit-earning courses only, please.)

One Response

  1. I don’t have any advice about online courses in Arabic, I’m afraid. But I’ll make the same recommendation I always do: while you’re looking why not check out the Pimsleur Eastern Arabic course from your local library. They currently have two levels and a third is due to be released soon. I’m sure you’re probably interested first in classical Arabic, and then in Modern Standard, but understanding a colloquial spoken version, particularly the one spoken in the region that those interested in Biblical studies tend to visit.

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