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MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language

AUC's Master of Arts program in teaching Arabic as a foreign language (TAFL) is a distinctive degree program with few, if any, counterparts in other American universities.

Several institutions in the U.S. -- the University of Texas, Georgetown University, Michigan University and Ohio State University, to name a few -- offer linguistics courses with some focus on Arabic. However, the comprehensive MA program that AUC established in 1979 is one of a kind. That the Department of Arabic Language Instruction (ALI) has been approached on more than one occasion to establish some kind of shared degree with universities in the United States is no doubt a testament to this fact.

Among the reasons for its success is the fact that TAFL’s mission and that of the ALI dovetail very nicely: ALI’s various programs host a large pool of non-native learners, while TAFL students, through a combination of study, research and hands-on training, gain experience and competence in teaching.

TAFL students enjoy the opportunities they have to 1) interact with the experienced faculty members of the institute outside of classes, as is possible during workshops and in mentoring situations; and 2) to directly observe and participate in the teaching process, furnished by the practicum courses whereby our students are expected to observe and teach up to 35 hours per semester. Also, opportunities for unpaid assistantships are available. The cooperative exploration of practical pedagogical issues is deemed valuable. As a result, our students become familiarized with theory as well as practice in the field of language teaching.

Why join our program?

The increasing number of learners of Arabic, has resulted in a steep rise in the demand for teachers of Arabic as a foreign language in Egypt and abroad. More and more universities and private institutes are offering Arabic as a foreign language courses, which led to a rise in the need for TAFL graduates. This is reflected in the increasing number of TAFL students who teach in prestigious Language programs abroad even before their graduation, and the participation of our more promising students in international conferences.

What do our students say about the TAFL program?

“Being at AUC is like being in the middle of a bridge between two worlds that usually are in conflict with one another. I have had the opportunity to learn under the tutelage of classical Arabic teachers from the prestigious Dar al-Ulum and from Westerners. AUC gave me the unique chance to teach Arabic and to apply the theory I was learning in class on the same day. I will leave AUC not only with a recognized MA degree, but also with a two year experience in teaching Arabic.”
Jean Druel, a graduate student from France

What is our mission?

The TAFL master’s degree has three goals: (1) to promote research in the field of Arabic linguistics and teaching of Arabic as a foreign language; (2) to develop highly trained teachers who are knowledgeable in the field of Arabic linguistics and who are equipped with the theoretical knowledge as well as the practical skills expected of qualified professionals in the field; and (3) to provide graduates with an understanding of the challenges foreign learners face when dealing with the complex continuum of linguistic varieties that exist in the Arab world today.

Who is eligible to join our program?   

TAFL is a program for students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Although a native-like level of proficiency in Arabic language and an expressed ability in using the language is required, this does not mean that applicants for TAFL have to be specialized in Arabic language. In fact, TAFL welcomes applicants whose first language is not Arabic. While most TAFL students are Egyptians, a number of our students come from other parts of the world.