Amman Roman Ruins

Columbia Summer in Amman: Arabic Language

Language of Instruction: Arabic
Term: Summer

In one summer, complete a full year of Modern Standard Arabic and Jordanian/Levantine Arabic through intensive language training in Jordan's capital city.

Program Notifications Sign-Up

Notify me when the application for this program is available

This nine week summer program helps students strengthen their skills in Modern Standard Arabic as well as the Jordanian/Levantine dialect by offering intensive language courses. All skills are emphasized in the classroom and during tutorials. Group excursions, cultural activities, and a week-long travel break give students various perspectives of Jordanian society and different venues in which to practice their Arabic. With a diverse population and a reputation for hospitality, Amman provides an ideal setting for students to learn Arabic and gain a deeper understanding of the region.

Program Overview

This program runs from the end of May through late July. During the program, all students complete one full year of Arabic, starting with Part 1 of the designated year. The following Modern Standard Arabic courses will be offered this summer:

  • First Year
  • Second Year
  • Third Year

All students will take part in intensive language courses, drill sessions, and individual tutorials.

Please note that Modern Standard Arabic course offerings are subject to cancellation if enrollment is low.

Eligibility & Application

  • Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate student in good academic standing. Graduate students and post-graduates may also apply.

  • No prior language study required for first year Arabic.

  • Minimum 3.0 average language GPA (if applicable)

  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA

How to apply

Please note that all applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis so we do encourage you to submit a complete application as soon as possible.

Want to apply? Click the “Apply Now” button above. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Home school approval/clearance
  • Language assessment (if applicable)


Students enroll in a Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) course at the appropriate level. Jordanian/Leventine Arabic will be integrated in the daily conversation hour. Students have access to office hours held by faculty and Teaching Assistants. All courses are taught by Columbia and local faculty.

Third year Arabic students will have the opportunity to volunteer with local non-governmental organizations to further their immersion experience. Past volunteering opportunities have included: Madrasati, Ruwwad, Al-Balad Theater, and a local radio station.

Students complete the equivalent of a full year of Arabic and are awarded 10 points of Columbia University credit upon successful completion of the full program. No credit is granted to students who do not complete the full program.

Some colloquial Jordanian expressions will be offered during the orientation period to introduce students to the local dialect. The Jordanian dialect is integrated in the daily speaking hour in class. Students have the opportunity to practice the dialect with Jordanian Teaching Assistants.

Note: The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary. Also, depending on final enrollment numbers, certain levels may only be offered in the Summer in Amman and Paris program. Students will therefore have the option to switch into that program.

Language Courses

The philosophy of the Columbia Arabic Summer Program in Amman, Jordan is to teach Arabic as a living language to a diverse body of students with a wide range of academic and professional needs. In order for to do that, the courses aim to develop all five skills, namely listening, speaking, reading, writing and culture. Students are exposed to authentic materials (audio, video, and text). The goal is to train students to be able to read and listen to primary sources, write on academic topics with control of registers, and to converse with Arabic speakers anywhere in the world. The curriculum is designed according to the Standards for Language Learning and the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. Through a language pledge enforced at the Center and during class periods, and living in an Arabic speaking context, the students will experience immersion in Arabic and Jordanian culture.

MDES 1210-11: First Year Modern Standard Arabic I-II, 10 Points

• Read and write in Arabic (i.e. be familiar with the letters and the sounds).
• Initiate, respond to, and maintain simple conversation on familiar topics, such as who you are, what you do, your family, and your studies.
• Read simple passages on familiar topics and understand their content with the help of a dictionary.
• Write simple compositions on familiar topics, such as your typical day, a description of your family, or your hometown.
• Start becoming familiar with certain aspects of Arab cultures and societies, especially Jordan.

MDES 1214-15: Second Year Modern Standard Arabic I-II, 10 Points

• Discuss general and specific topics, such as traveling, mass media in the Arab world, and Arab universities.
• Understand the main points of lectures and radio and television news programs.
• Read and understand the main ideas of any non-technical text with the help of a dictionary.
• Write short compositions on familiar topics and express opinions.
• Research, discuss, and be familiar with a number of issues pertaining to Arab cultures and history, especially Jordan.

MDES 4210-11: Third Year Modern Standard Arabic I-II, 10 Points

• Read and understand various types of newspaper articles (descriptive, narrative, argumentative, etc.), and essays and literary texts on various topics, with the help of a dictionary.
• Listen to and understand the main points of a speech, lecture, or news broadcast.
• Discuss a number of general and specialized topics and be able to describe, narrate, argue a point, and express opinions.
• Write cohesive and articulate summaries, accounts, and critical pieces about the same topics.
• Begin to recognize and use formal and informal registers in appropriate situations.
• Learn about the history, politics, cultures, and societies of the Arab World, especially Jordan.

Grades and Transcripts

Grading Policy

Click here for the Columbia summer program grading policies.


Upon successful completion of the program, grades are entered into Columbia's online grading system.

No credit is granted to students who do not complete the full program.

All courses taken on the program are converted to an American grading scale and transmitted to students as follows:

Columbia students: Grades appear on SSOL and your transcript as semester grades from courses taken at Columbia. For more information, please see the section on Academic Credit in Steps to Study Abroad.

Barnard students: Grades appear on eBear and your transcript as any semester grades from courses taken at Barnard. For more information, please see the section on Credit and Transcripts for Barnard Students on our Barnard student pages.

Non-Columbia students: can request electronic transcripts online through the Columbia University registrar.

Life in Amman


Students will have a choice between living with a host family or sharing furnished apartments. Generally, the program tries to secure accommodation between the center of Amman and the Columbia Global Center. In past years, student apartments were located in Deir Ghbar, Sixth Circle, and Oum Udhayna while homestays were mostly in Fuhais.

Please note that housing begins on the start date and end on the departure date. Students planning to arrive early should arrange for their own housing until the program arrival date.


Students are responsible for their own meals. There is a cafeteria at the Columbia Global Center which provides lunch for the entire staff and there is a system for students to also eat lunches there. Students pay about 3 JD per meal. The system for payment will be explained at orientation.

A meal at a local restaurant with Jordanian food is usually not very expensive. Places that cater to foreigners and offer western foods tend to be more expensive and prices can be similar to those in the U.S.


Course-related field trips and cultural activities are organized to provide opportunities for students to strengthen their language skills and deepen their understanding of Arabic language, history, and culture. Sites visited in the past include Petra, Wadi Rum, Dead Sea and Ajloun Nature Reserve.

The program also organizes workshops or lectures to introduce students to the local art, music, or film scene.

Third year Arabic students will have the opportunity to volunteer for 5-6 weeks with local non-governmental organizations to further their immersion experience. Past volunteering opportunities have included: Madrasati, Ruwwad, Al-Balad Theater, and a local radio station.

Daily Living and Schedule

The daily schedule is intensive. Students take MSA on Sunday-Thursday from 9 am to 1 pm, with Levantine Arabic integrated into the last hour. Total classroom contact hours are 160.

All students are required to arrive a day before the mandatory orientation begins. Orientation is one day and classes start the following day. There is a week break in the middle of the program during which many students choose to travel outside of Amman and Jordan.



Amman, the capital of Jordan, is situated in the hills between the desert and the fertile Jordan valley. Ancient biblical sites, Roman ruins, and contemporary structures exist side by side in this modern and cosmopolitan city with a thriving cultural scene. With a diverse population and a reputation for hospitality, Amman provides an ideal setting for students to learn Arabic and gain a deeper understanding of the region.

Columbia University Middle East Research Center

The program is based at the Columbia University Global Center: Middle East which is the first in a network of Columbia Global Centers the University has launched around the world. The Center provides a base for scholarly activities throughout the Middle East and provides the University a unique opportunity to advance knowledge and learning on a global scale.

The Global Center is located in King Hussein Park. It is a modern air conditioned facility equipped with classrooms, wireless internet, and a cafeteria.



Taoufik Ben Amor: Director and Arabic Language instructor

Taoufik Ben Amor holds a B.A. from the University of Tunis I (1985) and a Doctorate from the University of Tunis I (1991). Prof. Ben Amor specializes in Arabic language and linguistics, language and identity, Arab music, and music in Sufism. His research combines his interests in music, language and identity in the Arab world through the study of lyrics. His most recent papers are entitled "Language through Literature" and “The Making of Tradition: Standardization of the Lyrics of the Tunisian Andalusian Malouf.” He published a textbook on Tunisian Arabic in 1988, and Developing Writing Skills in Arabic (Routledge in 2013). He recently completed an online grammar video series entitled Al-Manha. Other papers he wrote include “States of Mind: Music in Islamic Sufi rituals,” “The Politics of Language and the Formalization of the Iraqi Maqam,” and “Code Switching in Algerian Rai Music.” Prof. Ben Amor is currently working on a book project: The Making of Tradition: Language, Music and Identity in the Arab World. Professor Ben Amor is also an active musician and music producer.

Youssef Nouhi: Assistant Director and Arabic Language instructor

Jordanian Faculty: Columbia trained Jordanian faculty members will teach several of the Modern Standard Arabic courses.


Students will be supported by a team from the Columbia Global Center: Middle East. Designated staff members will be on site at the Global Center daily.

Financial Considerations

Program Costs

Program Fee 2018 $10,300: Includes tuition, housing, and program sponsored excursions.

Please see our cost breakdown for detailed information on additional estimated expenses.

*Tuition and fees are subject to Board of Trustee approval and may change."


If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to studying abroad. In general summer financial aid is not available to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering students, but may be available to School of General Studies students. Non-Columbia students should check with their home schools for funding availability.

Funding Your Summer in Amman

Eligible students may apply for the following scholarships applicable to this program:

David L. Boren Scholarship:

Summer-only programs must be eight (8) weeks or more and are limited to science, technology, engineering and mathematics students.

Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS):

Find out who administers the summer FLAS program at your home school. Columbia students can check the website above.

Columbia students may also be eligible to apply for the following scholarship:

Columbia University Middle East Institute- Eric J. Posner Fellowship:

The Eric J. Posner Fellowship will fund student summer travel to the Middle East. Undergraduates who are doing research for a senior thesis project are eligible. The fellowship will cover costs up to a maximum of $3,000. The application must include proof that an offer has been extended by the organization and a description of the program and/or institution offering the internship. The fellowship will cover costs up to a maximum of $2,500.

Summer Language Fellowship for International Students:

  • Deadline: March 4
  • Open to international students

The Summer Language Fellowship for International Students supports international PhD students in the humanities and social sciences who need to study a foreign language abroad during the summer.

For more general information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:

Withdrawal Policy

If you decide to withdraw from the program once it has already started, please be aware of the financial consequences and the office policies by clicking here.

Resources for Accepted Students

Fact Sheet

Foreign Language Learning
Barnard College, Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia General Studies, Columbia Graduate Students, Columbia Undergraduates, Non-Columbia Graduate Students, Non-Columbia Undergraduates
Language of Instruction:

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Monday, March 19, 2018
Admissions Decision Date: 
Monday, March 26, 2018
Program Dates: 
Friday, June 1, 2018 to Friday, August 3, 2018
Rolling Admissions