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How to pick an Arabic Language Program

Arabic is a very nuanced language, one that cannot easily be taught in a traditional classroom setting. After studying Arabic at the university level in the United States, I felt adequate in my ability to read and write. However, my actual communication skills were minimal. After a summer of studying at the advanced level in the CAMES program at the American University in Beirut, I felt that my skills had improved in certain areas. My proficiency in listening, reading and writing Modern Standard Arabic improved greatly. Nonetheless, the challenges of learning spoken Arabic in an orthodox classroom prevented me from fully utilizing my time in Lebanon. Outside of class, I reverted back to English. Despite the advanced level of my coursework, I was unable to converse with native Arabic-speakers. Having studied the language and culture throughout my college career, my advice to anyone interested in studying the region would be to study outside of the box – a program focused on communication, as opposed to the pedantic settings that emphasize ancient texts and translating academic sources. There is more to learn by experiencing Lebanon and its people through the language that they speak than studying a formal version of their language that is almost wholly unused.

-Natalie, OU

Before you study aboard make sure you decide if you want to focus on MSA or the Spoken Dialect. It’s hard to do both in one summer. Once you have decided that make sure to find a program that will be the best fit for you.

Advice from Students Before You Study Arabic Abroad

I studied abroad in Jordan the summer after my sophomore year at OU. It was great and I feel like I learned a ton but there were definitely parts that could have been improved.

We had a class on MSA and a class on spoken Arabic. The majority of the class time was spent on MSA, which didn’t help as much as spoken Arabic would have. All of the people we met spoke to us in the local dialect and I learned the most interacting with people in the day-to-day activities. If we had spent more time going over common vocabulary and phrases, it would have been easier to practice and learn on my own.

I did feel like I learned a lot just living in Jordan though. I feel like the only way to learn a language like Arabic is to live in an Arabic-speaking country and try to use what you’ve learned as much as possible. The program you guys are running looks great. It sounds like you are focusing more on conversation skills and less on grammar and MSA vocabulary.

-Clint, University of Oklahoma


Free Conversation Cafe Time Changed in October

Are you looking for an opportunity to speak Lebanese? Stop by ALPS Beirut for a cup of coffee and conversation with our Arabic teachers and other students. Make sure to bring any questions you have about the language, culture and what to do and see in Lebanon.

Please note the new time: Every Tuesday from 9:30 AM to 11:30

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do you have to be a student at ALPS Beirut?
No :)

What if I don’t know how to Speak Lebanese?
This time is for people who are already conversational in Arabic. If you are just beginning, check out our classes for beginners and then join us later on.

Is it really free?
Yes completely free!

How do I get to ALPS Beirut?
ALPS Beirut is in Hamra near the American University Hospital. Here are the directions: https://alpsbeirut.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/how-do-i-get-to-alps/

Eid al Adha Greetings in Lebanese Arabic

This week, September 24 and 25, 2015, is 3id ilkabir or 3id al aD7a (meaning feast of the sacrifice). For Muslims, this holiday remembers the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his first born son in obedience to God. It also marks the end of the 7ajj to Mecca.

The day before, families who can afford it, sacrifice a sheep and the meat is used by the family and given to relatives and the poor to be used for the holiday meal.

The first day begins with morning prayers, Salat al 3id, and then going from the mosque to visit the graves of loved ones who have passed away. After that, families get dressed up and have a meal together and visit other relatives. Sweets are given and kids often times receive money from relatives as gifts.

The second day is another day to visit relatives and friends. If you are wanting to visit someone this second day would be best and you typically won’t want to stay too long since they also will be busy with visits. Here are a few Arabic phrases to use during this holiday starting out from the easiest to say and moving to more advanced.

yin3aad 3layk (3laykei/3laykon)
(ينعاد عليك (عليكِ/عليكُن
This is a general, but essential, way to wish someone a happy holiday for any holiday and religion.

AD7a mbaarak
أضحى مبارك
Have a blessed aD7a

yin3aad 3aleykon bil kheyr wil hana
ينعاد عليكن بالخير والهنا
May you live many celebrations in abundance and joy

nshalla es-sineh el jeiyeh tkuun wei2if 3ala jabal 3arafah
نشالله السّنة الجاية تكزن واقف على جبل عرفة
May you be standing on Mount Arafat next year (may you do the hajj)

AD7a mbaarak from ALPS Beirut

Please note we will be closed on Thursday, September 24, 2015, to allow our teachers to spend the day with family. 


How to take a bus in Beirut, Lebanon with Important Arabic Phrases

Getting around Beirut, or Lebanon, by bus is pretty easy and cheap. Busses in Beirut usually cost 1,000 LL ($ 0.66 US). There are just a few things you need to know. Busses have a fixed route – check out the map for details. However, there are no bus stops. You can get on and off whenever and wherever you want.

Here are the three steps to a successful bus trip

1. Stop the bus

Raise your hand just a bit and it will pull over

2. Confirm this is the right bus

by saying “Does this bus go to ___________? in Arabic, for example,

Does this go to Hamra?
btuSal 3a l7amra?
بتوصل عَ الحمرا؟

Does this go to Achrafieh
btuSal 3a lashrafiyyeh?
بتوصل عَ الأشرفية؟ 

3. Stop the bus when you arrive

Say “Please stop, I’ll get out here”
3mol ma3ruuf baddy inzal hown or just 3mol ma3ruuf will get the bus stopped.
عمول معروف بدي إنزل هون أو بس عمول معروف

Check out the bus map to see what areas are covered. Busses are usually a bit ta3ban and crowded, but are a very easy transportation option with no negotiating needed.

Bus 2 takes you from near Bar Bar in Hamra (5 min walk from ALPS) through Mar Elias, Sodeco, Sassine and Dora

Bus 2 HamraImg Cred: http://www.bus-planet.com/bus/bus-asia/Lebanon/files/midibuses/Frame-01.html

Bus 4 goes right by the ALPS building in Hamra and will go within walking distance of downtown and Gemmayzeh, Sodeco, Tayoune, Beirut Mall and Dahiyyeh. 

Bus 4 Hamra

Img Cred: http://www.bus-planet.com/bus/bus-asia/Lebanon/files/midibuses/Frame-01.html

October Intensive Spoken Arabic Class $6 per hour

Beginners Spoken Lebanese Class

This class begins with Spoken Levantine Vol 1 to teach you the essentials so that you can introduce yourself, get around Beirut easier and have basic conversations as soon as possible. In order to be in this class you must be comfortable using the written Arabic alphabet. This is a great option if you have studied MSA and are just getting started with Spoken Lebanese.

DaysMonday to Friday (5 days a week)
US $6/hour for a class of 6 students
Dates: September 28 to October 30

Interested in this class or another one of our personal classes or private tutoring? Contact us below:

These are just one of the classes we are offering in October. To learn more about private tutoring, MSA options and other class times and paces, please contact us. ALPS Beirut is open 5 days a week from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

Chers apprenants francophones, ALPS peut vous aider à apprendre le dialecte libanais et à améliorer votre langue arabe classique par la méthode de votre choix: vous pouvez adopter la nôtre, (anglais-arabe) si vous êtes à l’aise avec la langue anglaise, mais vous pouvez aussi nous demander de vous expliquer les règles en français, nous disposons d’enseignants également francophones. Nous sommes flexibles et pouvons nous adapter à vos besoins en termes d’horaires et de fréquence des cours.

Appelez Joëlle à Beyrouth au +961 1 75 50 25, ou sur son portable +961 70 948 109. Ou écrivez-nous à notre adresse électronique, nous répondons dans les 24h.


Ramadan greetings and sayings in Lebanese Arabic

Ramadan Karim

It is the month of Ramadan when Muslims around the world fast from drinking and eating each day during the 9th month in the Islamic calendar from before the Fajr prayer at sunrise until the iftar meal after the Maghrib (sunset) prayer. Here are a few Arabic saying to use during the month:

What do we say during the first days of Ramadan?

RamaDaan kariim
رمضان كريم

And the response is:
RamaDaan akram
رمضان أكرم

You can also say this greeting to wish someone a good start to Ramadan:

Mbaarak 3layk/3laykei/3laykon shshahir
مبارك عليك/عليكِ/عليكُن الشّهر

The response is:
w 3layk/3laykei/3laykon


What do we say to someone who is fasting or has just finished praying?

Taqabbala Allah
تقبَّل الله
Or: Allah yit2abbal
الله يتقبّل
(May God accept your fasting /prayers)

The response is:
minna w minkon nshallah
منّا ومنكُن نشالله
(May He accept for ours and yours as well)


The Eid is a time of feasting and celebration with friends and family and marks the end of Ramadan (which is 29 or 30 days) and the beginning of the next lunar month. This first day of Shawwal is called Eid al-Fitr and here’s how to wish someone a happy Eid:

Kil 3aam w into bkheir
كلّ عام وإنتو بخير
(Happy new year)

The response is:
Yin3aad 3layk/3laykei/3laykon biSa77ah wilbarakeh
ينعاد عليك/عليكِ/عليكُن بالصُّحَّة والبركة


RamaDaan Kariim from ALPS Beirut!


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