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14 August 2013

Foreign Students learn Arabic at Bethlehem University

Learning a language means understanding the culture

Studying Arabic at Bethlehem University, learning the Arab cultureLearning a language is not about learning how to speak, read or write only; it is in fact learning the culture itself.  This is the kind of experience participants of the Arabic Program in Bethlehem University get when they join this program.

“I really feel that I’ve learned a lot with the professor’s method.  I’m gaining confidence with sayings and idioms.  I’ve started to grasp these ideas that can not be translated from one language to another.  I’ve had lots of fun.  It has been stressful but a lot of fun!”

-- Martin  De Leon from Guatemala

Although Arabic language is not easy, especially for speakers of languages of Latin, Germanic or Cyrillic origins, however the fact that students stay with Palestinian families during the entire course, makes it a lot easier for them to learn the language.

“Coming into the class I didn’t know a lot except for saying hello in everyday language.  The class was very challenging and I had to study a lot, but I feel that I improved very much!  I now feel more confident in understanding and also speaking.  The class is very well balanced between challenge and—it’s a challenge but it’s not impossible to do.  It was perfect for me and I really enjoyed it a lot.”

-- Sara Katzenstein from Germany

The summer intensive Arabic program at Bethlehem University was established in 2009 as a center for Arabic language study in the Middle East.  The Arabic school offers spoken and media Arabic in intensive courses (60 academic hours) in the summer and non-intensive courses (30 academic hours) throughout the year.

On some weekends, the students go on trips to learn more about the landscape of Palestine.  One of the trips was to from Makroor to Battir.  The students learned about the wildlife and landscape with a special guide from Battir.  In Battir the students went to the Ecological museum and watched a short video about Battir and saw the spring and the beautiful gardens.

Some of the students also volunteer at local NGOs in the Bethlehem area which creates more understanding of the situation here in Palestine.Shamus Slaunwhite, a Canadian student who joined the program as part of the Palestine Summer Celebration organized by the Siraj center, the Alternative Travel department of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People (PCR), volunteers at the International Middle East Media Center, (IMEMC News) another department of PCR.  

He utilises his English language skills and the knowledge he is gaining by being in Palestine to help write and edit news reports for IMEMC News about Palestine/Israel.Each year the program grows attracting students from all over the world.  This year more than 40 students have joined the program.

The director of the Arabic School is professor Dr. Moin Halloun who has a long experience teaching Arabic to foreigners in Palestine.  He is the chair of the Arabic Department at Bethlehem University and the director of the Brother Vincent Malham Center which houses a traditional Palestinian music archive as well as the non-intensive Arabic courses.


Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine