Intermediate Arabic I

Dec 2017

Ahmar is not an easy instructor by any means, but you'll come away from her class having learned a ton of useful Arabic. She prepares you very well for more advanced courses.

Oct 2010

(Arabic II) I have taken many Arabic courses in my time and have found it hard to get a teacher with enough knowledge of both Arabic and English to help with learning the grammatical rules of this language (an important factor since second year Arabic requires the teacher to be able to explain nuanced points--most likely over and over). Ouijdane (Wijdan) was absolutely perfect for this as she was able to explain these finer points with relative ease and she was even able to provide simple ways to help remember such rules. Always willing to help after class and go over points even after you have forgotten them. She is, however, impatient with unresponsive students in class--so raise your hand and answer questions. Other than that I found her to be pleasant (some found her tough, but usually directly associated with them not participating in class).

Jan 2010

I have long graduated, but this woman still haunts me ever time I think about Arabic at Columbia. For non-native speakers, she's perfect, because she perfers to have those students in her class. As for native arabic speakers or muslims, she will tear your work to shreads. In the beginning, I thought I should just work harder. Nope. No matter how hard I worked, my grades would not move from C's to low B's. She never had any mercy and made us write a 2500 word essay for 2nd year Arabic, AND DID NOT GRADE BASED ON EFFORT WHATSOEVER. This woman has no mercy and has a bizzare personality outside the classroom (acts like she's your best friend.) I advise you not to take May Ahmar if you are Arab or Muslim. You will not do well in her class. You will go home and cry in the fetal position for years after you took this class.

Dec 2008

Ouijdane Absi is the best thing that can happen to your homework ridden Arabic career. Her philosophy is that the most important thing is that you improve, and she really means it. No matter how bad you mess up a test or a homework assignment or even a sentence, Professor Absi never EVER makes you feel stupid. She just gently corrects you and encourages you to turn in extra credit [which she gives, awesomely]. One thing that she does require, however, is that you participate. So if you tend to be quiet in class, perhaps this is not the one for you. If you do participate, however, Ouijdane is an incredibly chill and fun professor whose lessons are as clear as her accent [i.e. very].

Dec 2008

Ouijdane is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She is not pushover nice -- she's a fair grader verging on tough -- but her sweetness just makes the class that much more fun and makes people want to learn even more. She is always accessible by email and in person, and is literally always willing to meet with students. Some teachers will just meet during office hours or by appointment, but with Ouijdane sometimes the 'appointments' can be just 5 minutes prior and she's still willing to go over things with you. She has a background in linguistics and so knows how to explain things so that they make sense, and she also supplements al-Kitaab with some printouts and things that make much more sense and help us to practice certain grammatical points more. She is just so much fun and she really makes Arabic fun too, which is nice because second year can be kind of tedious and tiresome, but with Ouijdane it's always exciting! I am very excited to take her again next semester, and I would highly recommend her to anyone at Columbia.

Mar 2008

May is the best professor that I have ever had at Columbia. She, without a doubt, changed my view on things and made me want to study Arabic to fluency. Be aware - she is not American, and therefore does not adhere to American standards of grade inflation - nonetheless, if you work hard, you will be rewarded (she will give you an A if you prove that you deserve the A). She likes students that are polite and dislikes those who are arrogant - which isn't too hard to understand. The class sessions are a breeze, and I always looked forward to going to class - homework, on the other hand, is not (but these are the departmental rules). With all said and done, I learned more from May than from any other Arabic teacher at Columbia, and if you have the chance to take her class, do so - if you care at all about your Arabic. She is always available to help you and her office hours are a great help.

Feb 2008

I had Suad for three semesters and would not recommend her as a professor. She is very moody, does not like when people disrupt the flow of the class, limits questions causing confusion, and doesn't teach the grammar well at all.

Dec 2007

While she is a passable teacher and a very nice person, Intermediate Arabic is a terrible class. Columbia does not know how to construct a coherent language curriculum. Three hours of homework a night, inane in class exercises, and a GPA ruining grading scheme make this a horrible experience. If you want to learn Arabic, teach yourself.

Dec 2007

Three words: GET OUT NOW. By far one of the worst language experiences that I have had. You work, you slave, you beg, and you plead...and nothing. I know that she is a nice woman deep down; when you go to her office hours she's perfectly fine IF she likes you. But if you are for some reason on her bad side--which sadly a few students in our class were--your life will be miserable. You will be unable to ask questions, get above a 70 on anything, ridiculed, ignored, etc. And beyond all of that, she just was not a great teacher. Things weren't explained well or at all. Everything was explained in a confused manner that contradicted what was in the book. Head for the hills.

Oct 2007

May is very nice, approachable, and a clear teacher. She tries to make class enjoyable and by and large succeeds, even when we're covering some rough grammar. She really wants the students to succeed and will make time to try and help you- she is a fair grader, but follows the language departments standards, so its not really an easy A.

Oct 2007

May is an amazing professor. She has a history in linguistics and it shows! But for the light of heart - be warned - May is incredibly challenging as a professor. Every detail is important to the learning of the language. She is a tough grader, but is very open to student input and is always looking for ways to improve the overall classroom experience. Be prepared to participate in class - and always be prepared with the new vocabulary and grammar.

Oct 2007

May is an amazing professor. She has a history in linguistics and it shows! But for the light of heart - be warned - May is incredibly challenging as a professor. Every detail is important to the learning of the language. She is a tough grader, but is very open to student input and is always looking for ways to improve the overall classroom experience. Be prepared to participate in class - and always be prepared with the new vocabulary and grammar.

Dec 2006

Suad Mohamed is a really nice woman if you're on her good side, but this doesn't mean she's a good professor. If you are actually interested in having a competent professor who will help break down Arabic grammar and make sure you're learning, she is not the one for you. If you're OK with teaching yourself from the book, however, you might be fine in her class. She's not particularly hard, but the tests in the Arabic department are standardized, so you will be at a disadvantage being in her class. The problem is she really doesn't seem to know how to explain things to American students. She rarely understands people's questions in class - she doesn't get what we don't get - which is a really big problem in teaching a complicated and difficult language like Arabic. She's also quite straightforward and seems to like to embarrass you in front of the class when you make mistakes, which I imagine is a product of her culture and not because she's trying to be mean, but it also means that people stop talking in class and get too nervous to try, which is a bad thing to happen in a language class when this really is our only opportunity to use Arabic. She definitely picks favorites, which is nice if you are one of them (all you have to do is be nice and talkative) but can be frustrating if you're not. Her class is not horrible, she's fun and likes to keep things light, but it's also frustrating and not really worthwhile. If you're taking Arabic, this class will be your life, you have it every day and you will always be doing your homework for it. Do you really want your life to be a second-rate? Think about it!

Apr 2006

Switching into El-Hage's section is probably the best thing I did this semester. I've spent tons of time on the class, gotten a worse grade than I would have in any other section, and commensurately compromised my grades in my other classes. But I don't regret a thing; El-Hage is one of those teachers who makes a significant hit to the GPA entirely worth it. He embodies the educational philosophy that love is a better teacher than fear.

Mar 2006

I hate to be redundant, but I must reiterate the admiration that many reviewers have already expressed for El-Hage. He is as near to achieving the perfect combination of being demanding and yet kind as any teacher I have ever had. As far as language teachers go, it seems that many get into the field because speaking another language is their only skill; El-Hage certainly breaks that trend, as he truly loves to teach. I came to this class from a less demanding Arabic section, and I began so far behind that I was terrified to go to class every day for the first month. After I went to his office hours, however, my attitude completely changed. El-Hage was willing to spend as long as necessary with me to make sure I understood the material, and though I made many mistakes, he always made sure to say so when I got something right. His kindness, in turn, made me much more eager to learn. Be aware, however, that El-Hage's class focuses on a highly literary use of Arabic and translation of texts, rather than conversation or practical usage.

Aug 2005

Jeff is a good guy who bends over backwards to make sure that everyone in his class is comfortable and herein lies the problem. The dumbest people take over the class and it goes oh so slowly and you end up learning a lot less Arabic than you would in a class with a teacher who was both kind AND firm.

Dec 2004

Professor El-Hage is simply incredible. He is a fantastic linguist, well versed in Arabic poetry, an outstanding teacher, but best of all has a kind heart. He expects a lot, but gives a lot in return. You will improve your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills astronomically through his teaching methods and supplemental material. He assigns a lot of homework -- which will take you 2-3 hours a night to do -- so be prepared to put in a good amount of time. If you fall behind, he will be hard on you. Conversely, if you keep up with your work and participate in class, it will be the most enjoyable 2 hours of your day. If you take Arabic, you MUST take Ustedh El-Hage.

Nov 2002

Taofiq is one of the most capable, understanding and intelligent professors at Columbia. And he's cool as hell. Once you're out of intro, take Toafiq for intermediate. You won't regret it. Read these other reviews. We ain't lying.