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Happy Holidays from all of us at ALPS Beirut! We will be closed from December 24 to January 1 to allow our staff to be with their families. We hope to see you in class next year!
We will also not be having conversation classes on the 23rd or the 30th of December. Free conversation classes will resume every Tuesday starting January 6th at 9:00 AM.
Arabic is the official language of 22 countries, stretching from the Arabian peninsula up to Syria, and across North Africa, and is spoken by over 200 million people. These peoples and countries use Modern Standard Arabic in news broadcasts, legal documents, official speeches, books and newspapers. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is also taught at universities around the world because of its standardization and academic use.
However, no one in any of these 22 Arabic speaking countries uses Modern Standard Arabic in daily conversation. Instead they use the spoken dialect, the language of relationships, to communicate and connect with family and friends. The spoken dialect varies within countries and across the region. However, the countries of the Levant: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, share a common dialect of Spoken Arabic. When you study with us in Beirut you be learning the Levantine Arabic. This means within the Levant, people will say you sound Lebanese and everyone in the Arab World will be able to understand you.
However, once you get outside of the Levant the spoken dialects have a lot less similarities with Spoken Lebanese, as a result people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Morocco will be able to understand you, but you won’t be able to completely understand them at first. This is true even if you have studied MSA because the words and phrases that are used most often in conversation vary the most across countries. If you have a MSA background and want to learn the dialect, you’ll be able to use your knowledge of the Arabic alphabet as you adapt to the spoken dialect. Then, once you have a foundation in day to day conversations you’ll be able to use those bigger words you have learned in MSA (like United Nations and political science) because they are more often used in the spoken dialect as well.
The material for Lebanese Dialect does not overwhelm the student, and it is a good thing that I could learn practical things from my teachers Nadia and Rima.” — Satu
1. More chances to speak Arabic
You have more opportunities to practice your speaking in class and you’ll get more feedback from your teacher so you can improve faster.
2. It’s more personal
You have the chance to get to know your teacher and she will be able to better coach and encourage you as you are learning. This also provides a great place to ask more personal and cultural questions and learn more about life here in Lebanon. Small, personal classes create a comfortable environment to not worry about making mistakes as you are learning to read and speak Arabic.
3. Learn more in less time
Small class sizes that are designed around a few students with the same level and learning goals means you can cover more material in each hour.
Here’s what a few of our students have said:
“I had a great experience at ALPS – my teachers were friendly, enthusiastic, and took a genuine interest in my improvement on a week to week basis. The emphasis on studying Spoken Lebanese was also something I liked and I thought the ALPS textbooks were very good and instructive aids to learning. Additionally the small class sizes is a massive plus in speeding up the learning curve as it means that you get a higher degree of personal interaction with your teacher and classmates than you would in a larger class.” MA
“ALPS exceeded my expectations in both quality and rewards. ALPS provides an atmosphere that is conducive for learning a new language, it is professional, comfortable, and dedicated to each individual.” JAH
How slow is the Internet in Lebanon?
Despite the recent improvements, be advised that the Internet speed is still slower than most of the world. All over the city there are coffee shops and restaurants where you can enjoy free internet when you purchase a coffee. This is usually good enough for checking your e-mail but too slow for most other tasks.
What are your internet options for in your apartment?
- ishtirak-Each neighborhood has someone who will install shared internet in your apartment. Just ask a neighbor or a local store owner for the person in your area. This is a small, local operation that is cost effective, but slower since one connection (and IP) is shared among your neighbors. You can get it started easily and be done in a day.
- 3G/4G – Just use 3G or 4G on your phone while you are here and as long as you don’t download or watch videos this can be a reasonably priced option. 3.9 G is Lebanese for “Sounds faster than 3G, but is actually slower than 3G.” Check out MTC Touch’s 3.9G pricing. If your phone and the type of SIM card you purchase can use 4G, then you will have access to 4G speeds at the same price. Check out Alfa’s 4G prices. If you want, you can also get a dongle to connect to your laptop or just make a Personal Hotspot. This option is quick and easy to get started, but is the most expensive.
- DSL-If you are planning on being in Lebanon for years, you could get DSL in your home. This will take 3-6 months to set up, especially if there isn’t already a phone line in your home. This is the fastest and cheapest option, but involves the most paperwork and you need to keep a local phone line as well. You can easily stream videos with DSL, but neighborhoods outside of Beirut can drop downloads due to poor wiring. Sodetel is one DSL provider in Lebanon.
The answer is…it depends.
Yes if you are a lady
There is a consensus among our female students that it is more comfortable to live in Beirut and study Arabic compared to countries like Egypt or Jordan. In general, the men will take less notice of you here and there is such a variety of styles in Beirut that you won’t have to change your wardrobe to fit in. Since Beirutis are used to interacting with the West, foreigners are less of an attraction here.
Yes if you like variety
Lebanon is the most colorful country in the Middle East with a spectrum of religious confessions, styles and opinions and this means getting to know people here will usually have a few surprises. In Lebanon, when you meet someone new you have no idea about his or her religious beliefs, opinions, family life or values. In addition to the diversity of the Lebanese, Beirut also has Palestinians, Syrians, Kurds living and working in the city and welcomes Gulf visitors for the summer.
Yes if you are coming to the Middle East for the first time
When you are in a new country, especially a country that is much different from your own, there are a lot of things to get used to. It takes more energy learning a new language and living in a new culture and because of that your brain can never be in auto pilot. The stress that comes from this varies significantly from student to student. Since Beirut has always been a middle ground between the East and the West when you need to take a break and find people and places that feel a little closer to home you can.
No if you only want to hear Arabic 24/7
Like we mentioned, Beirutis are comfortable with foreigners and they are even more comfortable with foreign languages. In general, Lebanese speak English and French more frequently and better than other parts of the Middle East. This means that if you are in certain neighborhoods or restaurants, people will most likely begin talking to you in English first. There are a lot of people here who would like to speak Arabic with you and it just takes a little motivation and intentionality to find them.
-How long do I want to stay in Lebanon?
-Do I want to stay near ALPS in Hamra, where it’s more comfortable and has a more Western feel? Or do I prefer something cheaper and less Western?
-How much am I willing to spend?
There are reasons why we don’t provide accommodations or make housing reservations for
students: 1) Beirut is a very diverse city. Just walk 10 minutes and you can feel like you are in a completely different town. Often times, students end up wanting to switch accommodations and areas once they get to Beirut because of this. 2) There isn’t a one size fits all solution. Different students have different wants and needs, and that’s why we want to help you find a place that is right for you so you can make the most out of your time in Lebanon. Take a look at our tips below and contact us if you have any questions:
How long do I want to stay in Lebanon?
If you are staying for 2 months or less it may be best to get a student dorm, hotel or share an apartment with someone looking for a roommate. If you are staying longer, a furnished apartment will save you money and be a good option.
NEST Student Dorms
These dorms are near ALPS Beirut in Hamra and it is best to reserve a room before you arrive. You can contact Ms. Maruzella Abboud by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone +961 1 34 99 01 extension 106
Join this Facebook group to find a roommate or a furnished apartment for rent. This is a good option for you to check out no matter how long you are staying. It is updated daily with rental options and foreigners looking for roommates. Feel free to post what you are looking for to the group.
Do I want to stay near ALPS in Hamra, where it’s more comfortable and has a more Western feel? Or do I prefer something cheaper and less Western?
Some students like staying in Hamra and others don’t like it at all. Living in a foreign country and learning a new language takes a lot of energy, so it can be helpful to have a close and comfortable place to stay.
If you live further from ALPS, you will save money on accommodations and be in a neighborhood that uses more Arabic and feels less Western. In exchange, it may take you longer to get to ALPS and you may not be able to use your AC all day and night due to the lack of electricity outside of Beirut. If you find a place or neighborhood you are interested in, talk to us first and we can tell you what it is like and how long the commute will be in Beirut traffic.
Here are some good things about staying away from Hamra:
-Speak Arabic on the bus or in a service on the way to ALPS
-Get out of Hamra and experience the diverse neighborhoods in and around Beirut
How much am I willing to spend?
Beirut has variety in everything, and housing options and pricing are no different. In general, the closer you are to downtown or Hamra the more expensive the room. Below are some options listed from cheapest to most expensive:
2. Share a dorm or apartment
See the links above or ask us if we know of other students at ALPS looking for a roommate.
3. Rent a furnished apartment
4. Get a hotel
This is your most expensive option. However, it can be very helpful to book a hotel for a week or two while you get to know the city and look for an apartment or roommate.
A site with a lot of news about what is going on in Beirut and a listing of cheaper accommodations.
Is “A practical guide to Lebanon” with excellent general information in addition to hotel and furnished apartment listings.