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Language Schools for Expats in Saudi Arabia

Submitted: July 2014

Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, and is the official language in 26 countries. Arabic is considered hard to learn, but not when compared to Chinese or Japanese. There are relatively few institutions in Saudi Arabia that offer tuition in Arabic, compared for example to the number of institutions in the UK offering courses in English as a foreign language. As an expat working in Saudi Arabia, you will probably find that it is not absolutely necessary to be able to speak Arabic in the course of your work. You may however wish to learn some of the language anyway for use in day to day situations, or you may have an interest in perfecting your Arabic in order to progress in whatever field of work you are in. If this is the case it is possibly to find high quality tuition, though you may have to search for a while to find the right facility.

The best way to jump-start the learning process is to spend some time back at school. This might involve anything from attending evening classes after work at a reasonable cost, to spending a month or two on an intensive one-on-one VIP course, which would come at quite a price.

If you are looking for a qualification to show that you are proficient in Arabic, perhaps to help you to find work, you can try and find an institution in Saudi Arabia which will allow you to study for the Cambridge IGCSE - Arabic as a Foreign Language exam. Details about this course can be found here.

Choosing the right school for you depends on what you want to get out of it. If you are interested in more than just class-based learning, some schools may provide sight-seeing tours which not only help with your language development, but also give you more information regarding what you are looking at than you would get from a guide book. They may also provide outings such as shopping trips or restaurant visits. These can help you to learn the vocabulary you will need in these situations, and improve your confidence.

You could also find a personal tutor to teach you Arabic. The best way to do this is to look in the classified ads in the English newspapers in Saudi Arabia. Alternatively you can search through, or start a new thread on the various expat forums that exist.

Generally schools will run classes for students of all levels of ability, ranging from total beginners to accomplished speakers taking refresher courses. You will generally be assessed on arrival to see which class would be suitable, but you should always confirm that if you find yourself in a class that does not suit your ability, you can move freely into a more suitable class.

There are many different factors involved in the final choice of school. These include:

  • location
  • available facilities
  • track record
  • association memberships, and
  • past student reviews.

The internet in Saudi Arabia has not matured yet to the complexity and depth seen in many western countries, so information can be a little patchy. Many schools have their own websites which give detailed information of courses offered. There is a site here which lists some of the institutions offering Arabic courses here.

 

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