“Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people came from and where they are going.” - Rita Mae Brown
Arabic is the official language of at least 25 countries including Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, etc. Despite its global popularity, it’s not that popular in UK schools. However, learning this language offers plenty of cultural and career opportunities.
You should be aware that modern Arabic is different from country to country and can differ so much across the Arab world that speakers of Arabic in the Middle East may not fully understand those from Morocco, for example. That said, in most cases, students learn Modern Standard Arabic, which is used in Arabic mass media, print, law, and legislation.
It's a fascinating language with speakers from a variety of different countries and cultures.
So why not learn it?
Can You Learn Arabic at GCSE?
Arabic classes aren’t as widespread as they should be for such a widely-spoken language but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn it at school. Traditionally popular languages like French and German are becoming less popular with languages like Portuguese, Polish, and Arabic seeing the largest relative increase in popularity since 2013.
However, Arabic is still far from being the most popular language at GCSE or A Level and it’s even more unlikely that this will ever happen given how few schools offer it. That said, the more students choose it at GCSE, the more likely a school will offer it.
More students are opting for these “niche” languages as they help them to stand out in the job market. Similarly, there are large Arabic-speaking markets as well as a lot of emerging markets in Arabic-speaking African nations so it’s very likely that speaking Arabic is only going to become more important in the future.
Arabic at A Level
Much like with learning Arabic at GCSE, you can learn Arabic at A Level but it's not the most common foreign language option for students to study. More often than not, most colleges and sixth forms will offer foreign language A Levels but Arabic won't be one of the languages available to study.
That said, you are more likely to find Arabic courses and classes at larger establishments like colleges than at a sixth form. Generally, most of the schools that do teach Arabic are Muslim faith schools as the Arabic language is used in the Quran so students will learn to read and speak the language, too.
At A Level, students can always study a language or subject independently of their school or college and still take the A Level exam. This is useful if there aren't any courses available at your school or college, you don't have time to attend a school or college, or you just want to learn Arabic and take the A Level.
Everything You Need to Know About a Degree in Arabic
You can always learn Arabic at university and for most people, this may be the first time they actually get to study Arabic as a foreign language. While it's advised that you study Arabic at GCSE and A Level before going to university, it's not often obligatory. Most universities are aware of how difficult it can be to find Arabic GCSE and A Level courses so they'll usually allow students to start learning Arabic from scratch during their degree.
Of course, this does mean that students will spend their first year at university intensely studying the language. This also means that the university courses don't allow students to choose many (if any) of their first-year modules and classes. On an Arabic degree, you'll probably be focusing almost entirely on the language, learning new words, how to read the language, and maybe a bit about Arabic speakers around the world and their cultures.
As you progress on your course, depending on the university, you may be given the opportunity to spend more time studying other aspects of the language and the Arabic-speaking world. This will depend on whether you're studying Arabic as your main subject, alongside another subject, or as a foreign language option during your time at university.
What Can You Do with a Degree in Arabic?
Depending on what you want to do, there are a lot of options for those who’ve studied languages at university. The most obvious option is to teach the language you’ve learnt. You can pass on your knowledge of the language to students and school, college, or university.
You could get your PGCE and teach secondary school students how to speak Arabic. This means you could be teaching them at GCSE and A Level, too. Of course, with the low numbers of students learning Arabic in schools, you might want to teach another language, too.
That said, you don’t have to work in schools. You could always teach Arabic in language schools or privately. There are night classes, private tutoring, or language centres you could work in.
As a private tutor, you’re your own boss and could set up either a private Arabic language school or offer private tutorials in Arabic to people in their own homes. In this case, you’ll have to find the students and clients.
You could also teach Arabic at university. Knowledge of Arabic can also open doors to teaching in Arabic-speaking countries.
Of course, teaching isn’t the only thing you can do with a degree in Arabic.
Here are some other jobs you could do with your Arabic:
- Airline ground crew
- Airline cabin crew
- Travel and tourism
- Consultancy in Arabic-speaking countries
- Humanitarian aid
- International relations
- International business
It should be noted that some of these fields require further study or master’s degrees so good luck!
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 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!