Canada’s first intensive academic Arabic language program set to launch in spring 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Arabic Summer Institute condenses one term into four to eight weeks

Students looking to learn Arabic will soon be able to sign up for Canada’s only intensive Arabic language program. Set to run next May-June at Renison University College, the Arabic Summer Institute (ASI) condenses one term into four to eight weeks, depending on the number of courses the student chooses to take. This is the first program of its kind in Canada.

Studies in Islam Professor Amir Al-Azraki says that many students are drawn to Arabic because of current world events. “Within the current global and political context, it has become essential to learn Arabic in order to foster intercultural communication and interfaith understanding,” said Al-Azraki.

The ASI will offer three courses: Introduction to Arabic 1 (May 2-27), Introduction to Arabic 2 (May 30-June 24), and Arab Culture (May 2-June 24). Students will attend lectures, labs, and tutorials for two to six hours a day, Monday to Thursday. It is open to students from any university across Canada, with a residence option for out-of-town participants. Students will have the opportunity to sign up for one, two, or all three classes running in the eight-week period, and each completed course will count as credit toward their university degree.

The accelerated format of the ASI means that students will take part in intensive language classes, which often helps students grasp the language more quickly. “The value of an intensive language course, such as this one, is that you spend your time immersed in language study. You learn faster because you spend so much time practicing,” says Judi Jewinski, Administrative Dean, Renison University College.

Imran Visram, a UWaterloo student currently taking Arabic courses at Renison, says that the language made his co-op experiences in Turkey and East Africa much more valuable. “While I was on my co-op term in East Africa, I was surprised by the prevalence of Arabic during my stay in Zanzibar—being able to identify the alphabet and pronounce words became a useful skill while traveling. I was also fascinated to learn that a number of words in Swahili are of Arabic origin and Swahili is still often scripted using the Arabic writing system,” said Visram.

In celebration of the launch of the ASI, Renison has released a list of top ten reasons to learn Arabic based on feedback from students, professors, and the local community. Interested students can learn more at

top ten reasons to learn arabic


Renison, an affiliate of the University of Waterloo, is home to the SI program, which coordinates the Arabic language program. SI is an interdisciplinary program that introduces students to Muslim cultures and civilizations, exploring the history as well as contemporary issues. 

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