“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” - Flora Lewis
Arabic isn’t one of the most popular languages at A Level. It’s behind French, German, and Spanish, languages that are regularly the most popular taught in schools and taken at A Level.
So how can you study Arabic at A Level?
Here are our tips!
How to Study Arabic at A Level
It’s not often clear how you can study Arabic at school. That said, there are both primary schools and secondary schools around the country that offer it. If your school offers it, there’s no reason you can’t study it as it’s a great way to learn more about the language but also the cultures of the people that speak it.
You’re more likely to be able to study Arabic at secondary school than primary school as it’s very uncommon for primary schools to teach it. That said, it’s hardly the most popular language being taught at secondary schools or colleges, either. Arabic is most commonly taught at Muslim faith schools. That said, there are secular or state schools that offer the language. If it’s not offered, you may have to study it privately at night classes or with a tutor.
It all really depends on your school. Usually, Arabic is only offered as a subject if the school has a teacher for the class and some students want to study it. If there’s the demand, the school may offer it. That said, with so few teachers speaking the language, it’s quite unlikely that one of your language teachers just so happens to speak it.
If you are lucky enough to have an Arabic-speaking teacher in your school, you might also need to ensure there are enough students interested in learning it. It’s unlikely a school will schedule Arabic classes for just one student.
You can always just learn outside and sit the A Level exam as an external candidate. External candidates are registered for exams independently of their school or education centre and are a common practise for mature students or those studying a subject not offered by their school.
AS Level Arabic
The AS Level is the first year of your A Level course and it's not uncommon for students to take more subjects at AS Level than at A Level as they'll drop a subject or two to focus. Almost every subject is linear, too. The order the topics on the course can't be changed around and the level of Arabic learnt at AS Level will be lower than that in your second year.
Just because you drop a subject or two after just one year doesn't mean AS Levels are pointless, either. They can often make the difference for competitive university places. When all the students meet the A Level requirements, the AS Level results could set you apart. However, you won't want to have done just AS Level Arabic if you're planning to move onto a degree in Arabic.
A Level Arabic
Once you reach the second year of your Arabic studies, you'll be able to get your full Arabic A Level. This is the qualification that your university applications will look at and while Arabic isn't usually essential for getting onto a university degree as they understand how hard it can be to find a school that teaches it, it can be helpful as it'll give you a foundation in the language and give you more breathing room during your first year of uni.
The qualification will teach students about the language as well as several historical and contemporary topics relating to the language. During their exams in both AS Level and A Level, students will use the language to discuss topics like family, school, work and leisure, jobs, the environment, technology, and sport, to name a few.
Why You Should Study Arabic at A Level
If you want to learn the foundations of a language and more about the cultures of the people who speak it, the A Level is a good place to start. As we mentioned, it's rarely considered obligatory for Arabic degrees because a lot of students don't have access to the courses, but it does mean that you can start university already with an understanding of the language.
Your first year of university will be a big change and an A Level in Arabic can ease your workload as you adjust to the other changes that come with starting a university course. As you'll need less time to study having already studied some Arabic at school, you'll have more time to focus on the other modules you're studying, extracurricular activities, and making new friends!
Studying Arabic as an External Candidate
If you're desperate to get an A Level qualification in Arabic but it isn't offered at your school, you could always get your A Level as an external candidate. While most students will be registered for the exams through their school, in subjects that are taught outside of the school or independently, students can register as an external candidate.
In this case, you can study Arabic with a tutor or in a class outside of school and still take the exam. If you're doing this, make sure that your course focuses on or at least covers the skills and knowledge you'll need to pass the A Level exams. After all, you could be very good at the language but not have covered any of the topics of specialised vocabulary used in the exams.
Studying Arabic with a Private Tutor
If you're interested in studying Arabic outside of school or university, consider learning with a private tutor on Superprof! When it comes to languages, learning with a private tutor is one of the most effective ways to improve your linguistic skills.
On Superprof, the tutors offer different types of tutorials so think carefully about which will work right for you, your learning objectives, and your preferred learning style.
Face-to-face tutorials, for example, are between just you and your tutor. This means that not only will the tutorials be tailored to you and what you want to learn, but every minute of the tutorial will also be spent focusing on you as the tutor won't have other students to worry about. Regularly practising a language and getting feedback are the best ways to learn a language and face-to-face tutorials allow you to do this.
For those on a budget, group tutorials are a good way to split the cost of the tutor's time and expertise. While you won't get the tutor's undivided attention, there will be other students in the class for you to practise speaking Arabic with. You won't get as much say when it comes to the content of the classes, but you can save some money. This option is also good for those who may feel intimidated by having to always speak to the tutor in class, especially given that their level in Arabic is going to be much higher than yours.
Finally, if you can't find any suitable tutors working in your local area, remember that you can broaden your search to all over the world. As long as you have a webcam and a decent internet connection, you can learn Arabic from tutors all over the world. This means that your tutor could be a native Arabic speaker from an Arabic-speaking country! As they don't usually have to travel, these tutors can also charge less per hour than face-to-face tutors.
Generally, the more a tutor personalised their tutorials to you, the more you'll pay for them. Of course, no two tutors are the same and you'll also pay for experience and expertise. Many of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free so you can try several tutors out before deciding on which one is right for you. You're going to be talking to them a lot so make sure that you get along with them first!