The Best Places to Learn Arabic in the West Bank

Arabic
Arabic | © Chris Price/Flickr
Florence Sinclair

The West Bank might not be the first destination that comes to mind if you’re thinking of learning Arabic, but there are in fact many factors that make it the perfect place to spend time working on your language skills. As well as Palestinian Arabic being an easy, elegant and widely understood dialect, Palestinians are some of the warmest and most welcoming people out there, which provides plenty of opportunities to get practising.

Jerusalem

Centre for Jerusalem Studies

Learn Arabic with the breath-taking sights of Jerusalem on your doorstep! The Centre for Jerusalem Studies holds spoken and Modern Standard Arabic courses at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Courses run per semester and students can choose to take classes either in the morning or evening. Each semester includes 75 hours of teaching, held at various sites in the Old City and in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. Tuition costs 3025 NIS per term, plus a registration fee. More details here.

Arabic Calligraphy

Bethlehem University

Bethlehem is best known for its many historical and religious sights, but it is also home to a lively social and cultural scene, based around the university. Bethlehem University runs both intensive three week (60 teaching hours) programmes for spoken and media Arabic in January, July and August, as well as regular two month courses (30 teaching hours) throughout the rest of the year. Intensive courses cost 900 USD, regular courses 500 USD, and private courses are also available for 120 NIS an hour. More details here.

Al-Quds Bard Intensive Program, Bethlehem

If you already have an intermediate or advanced level of Arabic and are looking for an immersive language experience to really hone your language skills, look no further than the al-Quds Bard intensive summer program. As well as cultural excursions, activities and fascinating courses on Palestinian culture and politics, al-Quds stipulates an Arabic-only policy whilst on site, as well as offering accommodation with a host family, therefore making it the most effective way of perfecting Arabic skills for those who like a challenge. Tuition and accommodation for the month-long programme costs 5,200 USD, with scholarships available. More details here.

Fruit and Veg, Old City, Jerusalem

Ramallah

Birzeit University

Much of Ramallah’s busting cultural life, including talks, film screenings, live music and club nights, revolves around Birzeit, the West Bank’s oldest and most renowned university. The Birzeit Palestinian and Arabic Studies Program offers Modern Standard and spoken Arabic courses, as well as a range of social and political courses such as Modern and Contemporary Arabic Thought, the Palestine Question and Women in Arab Society. Courses run for 9 weeks in the autumn, spring, and summer semesters and consist of 72 teaching hours. Language courses cost 700 USD per semester. Find out more here.

Sebil Center

Ramallah’s Sebil Language center offers a range of MSA and spoken Arabic options to suit everyone, including intensive, non-intensive formats, online and even weekend courses for those pushed for time. Private courses are available, as well as ‘mixed’ MSA and spoken Arabic programs for those looking for a well-rounded Arabic experience. Four-week courses start from 600 EUR. More details available here.

Ramallah at night

Nablus

An-Najah National University

The ancient city of Nablus, located in the northern West Bank, is home to a beautiful and busting Old City rivalling that of Jerusalem, with many things to do and see. Its biggest university, an-Najah, offers an immersive Arabic language course for non-native speakers, including educational excursions and a homestay with a local family. Also on offer are courses on Arabic literature, media and spoken Arabic. Tuition fees are 1200 USD per semester and 600 USD for the shorter summer session. More details here.

Project Hope Arabic Language School

Project Hope is the budget-friendly Arabic language school, offering month-long Arabic courses for non-natives for 500 USD per month, including accommodation. The school offers 2 hours of private Arabic tutoring to students a day, and in exchange volunteers teach language, creative, or applied skills classes to local Palestinian students, providing the perfect opportunity to put your Arabic skills into practice. Find out more here.

Market place

Hebron

The Excellence Centre

The holy city of Hebron is also home to a bustling modern metropolis and ceramics trade, but has recently been the site of occasional religious tensions. Despite this, the Excellence Centre still proves to be a popular Arabic learning destination, offering language courses as short as two weeks, in addition to excursions around the West Bank, home stays and volunteer English teaching opportunities, providing students with the chance to connect with many Palestinian people and fully experience their rich culture and warm hospitality. More details available here.

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