There’s no effortless way for adults to learn a new language, despite what some may claim. Learning any language takes time and consistent effort (which can, of course, be great fun). Newbies reach advanced levels of proficiency through practice, study and a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them.
Arabic is certainly no different in this regard but, in the end, it isn’t really more complicated than other languages. If you attend classes regularly, study between class meetings and arrive prepared every week you can move confidently through our program and learn Arabic. Arabic’s challenges will be clarified for you as you advance through our curriculum.
Also, while Arabic can be tricky, in some ways it’s less complicated than most European languages. For instance, Arabic has a very simple verb system — only two tenses!
It takes time to learn any new language well. We offer a full three-year program in Standard Arabic, but you can become quite conversant within a year in our program. So although there might be much more to learn, Arabic can begin opening doors for you fairly quickly.
Pacific Arabic is a private language school for adults in downtown San Francisco. We are a secular, apolitical institute with only one purpose: helping our students learn.
You’re best off taking MUNI or BART, since we’re only one block from the Montgomery Street station. The school is also served by many bus routes, and is only a few blocks from the Transbay Terminal.
Although parking can be difficult in the Financial District, our classes meet on weekends or weekday evenings (except Fridays), when spaces are often available on the street (especially in time for our 7:30 p.m. classes). We recommend planning ahead for all nearby parking options. Bicyclists will find a rack in front of the building where they may lock their bicycle. (Bicycles are not allowed inside the building.)
All kinds of people come to us to learn Arabic, for many different reasons. Diverse in age, background and viewpoint, they form a vibrant community of language learners. Most of our students are between 25 and 40 years of age, but you’ll also find college undergraduates and retirees in our classes.
We value our students’ diversity, and it’s important to us that all our students feel comfortable at our school.
Our classes meet on weekday evenings (except Fridays) or weekends. Most classes meet once per week for an hour and a half, while some meet twice per week. Classes begin at 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. on weeknights, and at 10:30 a.m. or 12 noon on weekends.
Yes, the minimum age is 18. We do not offer instruction to younger students or children.
Generally our classes have fewer than ten students. Our maximum registration is 16 students per class. We keep our classes small to ensure all students receive abundant attention.
Absolutely. The building and all our classrooms are fully accessible. Everyone is welcome to learn Arabic here.
Each of our language instruction classes (as opposed to our conversation, history and calligraphy classes) presents approximately 250 new vocabulary items and some key grammatical concepts. Each course brings the student to a new plateau in their language acquisition.
You will have one (or possibly two) weekly meeting(s) with your instructor to practice earlier material and learn new concepts and vocabulary. You must then study the concepts and memorize the vocabulary on your own, as you’ll be expected to know the new material fairly well before returning to class. We’re always available to answer questions between class meetings.
Of course, students in our intensive programs will learn new material every day and must dedicate a few hours per day to study outside of class. Many of our intensive students like to stay after class and study together, which gives them access to our resources (including teachers) while studying.
Our Standard Arabic classes present an average of 30 words and phrases per week, along with one or two new grammatical concepts.
You’ll need to devote the time required to learn the new material, which may be more for some students and less for others (and the amount of time required may vary by the week). Therefore, we can’t really give a specific answer to that question. However, there’s one thing we can say with absolute certainty: it’s far better to study a little bit every day than to wait five days and cram. And with the audio CDs you can review easily wherever you are.
Remember, learning a language is largely a matter of developing habits. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument: daily practice — even just a little — is the way to go!
If your absences won’t be back to back, you might want to take the class anyway. You may have the option of making up the class by attending a weekend meeting at your level (or, if you’re in a weekend class, a weeknight meeting).
Barring that, you may schedule a meeting with a private tutor before you return to class. The texts we use in Arabic 1-7 and in our dialect classes were designed for self-study, and students who have time to study while traveling can often keep up with the class without tutoring.
However, if you miss two class meetings in a row we cannot allow you to return to class unless you communicate with the school about your absence and make arrangements for tutoring or otherwise demonstrate your ability to participate fully in class.
Complete beginners should start with our Arabic 1 or Arabic 1 (biweekly) courses. You should know the material presented in Arabic 1 (or its biweekly variant) before registering for any of our other classes (except our history classes, which are taught in English).
Students in this class learn the Arabic alphabet, about 300 Arabic words and some basic grammar. At the end of the course, students are able to form simple sentences and to communicate about basic topics. With this rudimentary knowledge you can move on to any of our other courses. You’ll find more information on the complete course description.
Arabic 1 is our course for complete beginners to Arabic. Students in this course meet once per week for eight weeks. Arabic 1 (biweekly) is the same course, but students meet twice per week for four weeks, covering the material in half the time.
No, we don’t. We teach all forms of Arabic, Standard and dialectal, using only the Arabic alphabet. Our teaching method stresses conversation, but we teach Arabic using Arabic script in our textbooks, handouts and on the board during class meetings. Students must be able to read and write Arabic in order to enroll in any of our courses except Arabic 1, Arabic 1 (biweekly) and our history courses.
Even if you are mainly interested in speaking Arabic, learning the Arabic alphabet is well worth the relatively small amount of effort it takes if you study the language. Although it might look baffling at first, it has only 28 letters and is not very hard to learn. (You’ll likely find the experience much simpler and more enjoyable than when you learned to read and write the English alphabet.)
If you have studied Arabic before, you may schedule a telephone consultation with one of our teachers to determine which course you should take. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your background and your goals, and the instructor will ask you some questions about specific grammar and vocabulary.
To schedule a placement call, tell us a bit about your background on our telephone consultation form. One of our instructors will phone you soon.
We can help you learn the Arabic script and the Standard Arabic language in a fun, structured group class setting. The Arabic you grew up speaking is Egyptian dialect, which is very different from Standard Arabic (the language of almost all written Arabic).
Your best bet would be to take our Arabic 1 class and learn basic grammar, vocabulary and literacy skills while you become accustomed to Standard Arabic phonology.
Although you might feel Arabic 1 is beneath your level, you’ll find that it presents a language very different from the one you speak. Remember, modern Arabic dialects differ from Standard Arabic as much as Spanish differs from Latin.
You’ll be in good company, too, as we have many Arabic heritage speakers in our beginner classes.
Our conversation classes are designed to complement our Standard Arabic courses, putting new (and old) concepts and vocabulary to active use. The content of these conversation classes is tied to that of our grammar classes, and combining both is a great way to get two doses of Arabic in a week.
We offer a three-year program in Standard Arabic, bringing the student to an advanced level of proficiency in the language. We teach Standard Arabic as the living language it is, and stress oral and written skills equally.
Students who wish to study Standard Arabic at our school beyond our three-year program have the option to join one of our advanced readings or upper-level conversation classes.
Standard Arabic is the official language in Arabic-speaking countries. It is the language of television broadcasts, political speeches, literature, education and news media. It is the language children in the Arab-speaking world learn when they go to school and learn to read and write.
Nearly all written Arabic throughout the world is in Standard Arabic. And because it doesn’t vary from place to place like dialects, if you know Standard Arabic, you can communicate with people throughout the Arabic-speaking world.
The Arabic dialects are the spoken languages of the Arab world. Dialect is the language children in the Arab-speaking world learn from their parents when they learn to speak. It is also the language of popular media; Arabic movies, TV shows, radio, music and theater are almost always in dialect.
Arabic dialects differ from each other considerably, corresponding roughly with geographic distribution. Dialects geographically close to each other are frequently similar, while those separated by wide geographic distances are frequently mutually unintelligible. And, as a group, they differ markedly from Standard Arabic (the official, written language).
All variations of Arabic, however, still share the fundamentals that you will learn in Arabic 1, where you will get a more in-depth understanding of the differences between the various forms of Arabic.
That would depend on your needs and goals, but many choose to study both.
If you’re learning Arabic just to communicate with your in-laws, then you don’t need to study a lot of Standard Arabic. However, a solid grounding in the fundamentals of Standard Arabic will make dialect study much easier.
If, however, you are studying Arabic to do business in the Arab world or to read the news or literature of the region, then you should focus on Standard Arabic.
Generally it’s a very good idea to learn a dialect in addition to Standard Arabic. Native speakers know both, so if your goal is to communicate as fully as a native speaker, you will eventually need both as well. Dialect will get you through everyday life in an Arabic-speaking country, and Standard Arabic provides access to the more educated topics of the Arab-speaking world.
It would certainly enrich your travel experience if you can communicate a bit in Moroccan Arabic. However, you’ll need start with Arabic 1 first to learn the writing system, pronunciation of the letters, and some rudimentary grammar.
We generally recommend waiting until after you’ve reached an intermediate level in Standard Arabic. Once you understand the basics of Standard Arabic grammar fairly well, you’re likely to find a modern dialect quite simple to learn.
Yes, of course. Some of our students prefer to study only a regional form of Arabic, and that’s fine. However, you must know the Arabic writing system (at the very least) before beginning your dialect studies at Pacific Arabic.
The earlier you register, the lower your tuition. You’ll pay the least when when we first schedule a class. Tuition increases by $30 for eight-week classes (or $15 for four-week classes) three Mondays before the first class meeting. It increases again by the same amount the following Monday to its maximum, as outlined below.
|Full classes (8 meetings)||$260-$320|
|Workshops (4 meetings)||$130-$160|
20% of your tuition payment is nonrefundable under any circumstances. The remainder will be refunded if you withdraw before the second class meeting begins (except for intensive classes). The refund policy for accelerated classes is described on our accelerated-class policies page.
Private tutoring is available only for students enrolled in group classes, and our instructors set their own hourly rate. Contact your instructor to set up a tutoring appointment if you need extra help outside of class.
Yes, we offer certain incentives so you can continue learning regardless of work, travel or family matters.
Also, if you’d like to take more than one eight-week class during the same term, you will be charged only $90 for your second class! This offer may not be combined with the class-repeat discounts described above.
If you want to take more than two eight-week classes at the same time, please contact us regarding our highly discounted All You Can Eat tuition plan.
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Alternatively, you may also pay by check no later than a week before the first class meeting.
Yes, although we do not accept checks during the first two weeks of a term. Earlier than that, you may bring your check to class or mail it to the address below with a note stating your full name, email address, phone number and course selection.
Make your check payable to “Pacific Arabic” in the amount of the tuition in effect on the date you mail your check or hand it to your instructor. You will receive a confirmation email when your check has cleared.
No, at this time Pacific Arabic does not provide financial aid. If you register early, however, you can save up to 20% on tuition.
We require students to register before the first class meeting. If you would like to register after the first class please contact us beforehand.
To drop a class or request a refund, simply notify the registrar. You will receive a refund (minus 20% of your tuition) if you notify the registrar before the second class meeting (or later for intensive classes).
No compensation is given after that point.
You may transfer to another section of the same course during the same term if it works better with your schedule. There is no fee for this type of transfer.
If you need to postpone, you may transfer your registration forward to a class beginning no later than the following term.
To postpone, you must contact the registrar before the fifth week of the current term begins and choose a class during the registration period for the following term. You will be charged a $30 nonrefundable transfer fee at the time you choose a new class.
If you are unable to take the class the following term, we will retain the $30 transfer fee and refund 80% of your original tuition payment (as 20% is nonrefundable under any circumstances).
Intensive students do not have the option of transferring.
We’re a private language school and do not offer academic credit for our courses. Some students have obtained credit for our courses through their high school or university. Students need to arrange this through their own institution.
No, we don’t. If you’re looking for translation or interpretation services in the Bay Area, have a look at the Northern California Translators Association website.
Pacific Arabic is a secular, apolitical institute. We stand only for language learning (although we’re passionate about that). Therefore, we don’t pass on cause-related announcements. Students are encouraged to leave their political and religious views at the door when they come to class.
We want everyone to feel equally comfortable studying at our school as part of our learning community. We believe that’s one of the things that make our school so welcoming.