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A Seeker’s Guide To Arabic Studies In Egypt – Part II

Published

By Hamza Vohra

[…continued from Part I]

 

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What is the difference between Group Study and Private Study?

Private:

a) The biggest advantage of private study is that your instructor can put all of his/her focus on you. You may ask your teacher endless questions throughout the lesson, have extra practice or more enhanced homework on areas you are weaker in, and have all aspects of the lesson tailored towards your individual needs. Although I mentioned that there is the presence of a system at an institute, that does not go to say that you may not have a structured syllabus with a private instructor. Many students who study privately are also given exams throughout their period of study. However, this depends on the instructor and therefore these details must be clarified beforehand.

*Not having classmates may perhaps impede your conversational ability. However, as long as there is plenty of conversation between the student and the instructor throughout the class, your conversational progression will be above par.

*I recommend four hours of private study a day. Anything more may indicate that you are going through the material too fast. It is pivotal that a student does not fly through the material without properly absorbing it. Too often, eager students rush through the textbooks and are not cautioned enough by their private instructors. As a result, all is forgotten in a short time frame.

b) A disadvantage of private study is the aspect of uncertainty and unreliability. Private tuition truly depends on who your teacher is and if he cares about your progression in the language. All teachers at institutes are pre-approved and evaluated by the administration, and therefore you do not have this issue. With private study however, you do not know how things will play out. You rely on word of mouth from other students, and in many cases, things can work out well. Some instructors are incredible teachers and having them tutor you one-on-one is a tremendous blessing. A good teacher will provide you with ample homework, incorporate a syllabus, have you constantly implement your reading, listening, writing, speaking capabilities, and test you from time to time. The reliability aspect of the instructor is paramount. In many scenarios of private study, teachers are late to the appointed class time, cancel classes, or in much rarer cases, suddenly discontinue instruction all together.

*Private study fees as of late is about 60 Junays per hour.

 

CURRICULUM

What curriculum is used to teach?

This may differ from institute to institute, or from private instructor to private instructor. However, generally speaking, most institutes and private tutors utilize a book known as Arabiyatu Bayna Yadaik (all parts) as their main text book.

Grammar is initially taught using Ajaroomiyya and then supplemented by an array of options including: Mutammimatul Ajaroomiyya, Nahw Al Kafi, or Nahw Al Wadih, etc.

*The entire syllabus takes about 12-16 months. Of course, this varies depending on a student’s background knowledge of Arabic. In that case, the student is tested and placed on a level suitable for him/her. I highly recommend coming to Egypt with the intent to complete the entire syllabus, or at least to stay for about a year’s duration if he/she is starting from scratch. That way a student can really prosper from his/her immersion into the language.

*Arabic studies in Egypt is catered towards both males and females. Most institutes have group classes for females also, and female instructors for private study can also be found.

*I cannot stress enough the importance of speaking ONLY Arabic  during your period of stay in Egypt -with roommates, classmates, schoolmates, or the locals. You will hardly find students who will abide by this, but the students who do progress so much faster, and their grasp of the language is far greater than those who don’t. Although locals will speak in the Egyptian dialect, they will understand your “fussha” or classical Arabic.

 

SAFETY

Is Egypt safe?

I believe safety is the biggest concern for parents and for ourselves before travelling abroad. I have never had an issue in my one year of stay in Egypt, alhamdulillah. There are certain instances where police officers have asked students for their passports to verify if they have a valid visa. They have further investigated their phones also. This occasionally happens if the person is noticeably a foreigner and is wearing a “thobe”. Other than that, I have not been made aware of any other issues. Unfortunately however, instability in the region is always a concern.

 

*I avoided wearing a “thobe” in Egypt (athough all my friends did so) so as not to warrant unnecessary attention from authorities.

*Avoid calling/texting while walking on the streets. Plenty of students have had their phones snatched right out of their hands by street thieves.

*Visas are renewed by authorizing your rent contract at a building in Hayy Saabi’ of Nasr City, Cairo called Shahrul Aqaari and presenting your stamped contract and your passport to the Nasr City police station. This is for residents of Nasr City. Rules are subject to change. You are unable to have your contract authorized with an expired visa.

 

The pursuit of guidance and beneficial knowledge will always be a path of sacrifice. Studying abroad in a country and culture that is unknown to you can be arduous. Despite that, there is an unexplainable pleasure a student finds in knowing that he is seeking Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) pleasure above all else. lt is precisely for this reason the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

مَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَلْتَمِسُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا سَهَّلَ اللَّهُ لَهُ بِهِ طَرِيقًا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ

“Whoever travels a path in search of knowledge, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will make easy for him a path to Paradise.”

 

I ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to bless you towards that which pleases Him, and to increase you in piety and consciousness.

 

 

Hamza Vohra is a graduate from UConn with a B.Sc. in Biology and a minor in Psychology. He is currently a student at the Islamic University of Madinah, furthering his knowledge of the Islamic sciences.

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