Arabic for Heritage Speakers

This course is intended for Heritage Speakers only. This is an intensive course that combines the curriculum of both First and Second Year Arabic in two semesters instead of four, and focuses on the productive skills (speaking and writing) in Modern Standard Arabic (Fusha). Students are exposed intensively to grammar and vocabulary of a high register. After successful completion of this course, students will be able to move on to Third Year Arabic.

Definition of “Heritage Speaker”

“Heritage Speaker” refers to individuals who have been exposed to Arabic at home or when they were young, but have not reached the competence and literacy of a native speaker. Typically, these speakers do not use Arabic as the dominant language nor do they have full literacy in it. In addition, they also might display gaps in their knowledge of the culture. Heritage speakers differ in the degree of their fluency and extent of their use of spoken Arabic, but they are often limited to a range of daily life topics and sometimes even have a passive knowledge of the language, i.e. they understand it but do not speak, read, or write it. This situation is complicated by the difference between Spoken Arabic (‘Ammiyya) and Modern Standard Arabic (Fusha), with the latter being a variety learned at school.


To qualify for this class, students are expected to:

  • Speak and understand an Arabic dialect, any dialect, fairly well. However, class focus is on Modern Standard Arabic, MSA. Dialects will be used as a stepping stone towards learning Fusha.
  • Possess basic vocabulary, though limited ability, to converse about topics such as: autobiographical information, self, family, likes, dislikes and daily life.
  • Be familiar with some aspects of Arab culture.

Placement, Registration, and Further Information

A questionnaire and interview are conducted on the first day of classes in order to establish proficiency level. Students who are accepted will be registered internally by the department.

If you have any questions, please contact the instructor teaching the Arabic for Heritage Speakers course.

  Address:  401 Knox Hall, MC9628
606 West 122nd St,
New York, NY 10027
  Tel: (212) 854-2556