Center for Arabic Study Abroad
Center for Arabic Study Abroad


The CASA I program in Cairo is a 12-month intensive Arabic language and culture program that includes three components focusing on the study of Egyptian Colloquial Arabic: 1) the summer program, 2) the fall semester, and 3) the spring semester.  

The Summer Program (please note CASA no longer offers a Summer-Only Program)

The CASA I summer program typically runs from early June to late July and features the following components:

  • The Academic Program
  • The Cultural Program

The Summer Academic Program

The summer academic program in Cairo aims to provide the fellows with opportunities to explore Egypt and to immerse themselves in their new environments both linguistically and culturally. The program offers between 20-23 contact hours per week and fellows are expected to spend between 4-5 hours daily doing homework and preparing for class activities for the following day.

The summer academic program includes two courses:

  • Hadduta MaSriyya: A Course in Egyptian Colloquial Arabic
    This course offers 10-12 contact hours per week and aims to develop the fellows' proficiency in the Egyptian dialect quickly so that they can function in their new environment. In addition to focusing on the colloquial of daily life, the course places emphasis on cAammiyyat al-Muthaqqafiin, "Educated Colloquial", in which the colloquial is mixed with formal Arabic. Multiple sections of this course are offered to accommodate varying levels of proficiency. 
  • Egypt: Culture & Society
    This is a content-based course that offers 8-10 contact hours per week and aims to engage students through language in a number of historical, political, social, and cultural issues of significance to the society in which they are living. The course places emphasis on the development of all language skills with attention to expanding vocabulary and enhancing grammatical accuracy. Themes in this course include: the Egyptian educational system, minorities in Egypt, honorifics, Egyptian nationalism, language of the youth, humor and jokes, the arts, etc.

The Summer Cultural Program

The main component of the CASA Summer Cultural Program is Mishwaar w-Dardasha,"a trip and a chat", a weekly activity that lasts for about 2-3 hours with an Egyptian conversation partner.  Each week, small groups of CASA fellows (3-4) are paired with a young Egyptian who acts as a guide and conversation partner for the group.  These conversation partners are graduate students, and young professionals representing the diversity of Egyptian society.  Each group chooses a place or event of interest in Cairo, which may include cafés, concerts, or historical sites. In previous Mishwaar w-Dardasha outings, CASA fellows visited Al-Azharpark, watched soccer matches at cafés, attended concerts or movies, and dined at a various of restaurants throughout Cairo.  Mishwaar wa Dardasha affords fellows an opportunity to use their Egyptian Colloquial Arabic with native speakers, while seeing parts of Cairo through Egyptians' eyes and immersing themselves in the culture.

The second component of the summer cultural program consists of trips and excursions to various places in Egypt organized by CASA's Cultural Assistants.  Every week, there is an optional trip led by the assistants to a cultural or historical place in Cairo.  Outings for 2012 included: dining at Uighur and Yemeni restaurants, walks around Islamic Cairo, felucca rides, and trips to museums.

Additional trips around Cairo and to other parts of Egypt are provided by the Arabic Language Institute (ALI) at the American University in Cairo. These trips are optional and the CASA fellows are welcome to join them for a fee.  Among the trips that have been offered were: tours of Cairo, the Giza Plateau, Saqqara & Memphis, Coptic Cairo & the Old Cairo area, a two-day trip to Alexandria, tour of St. Catherine and Sharm El-Sheikh, and a trip to Abu Simbel, Aswan, and Luxor (Nile Cruise).

CASA applicants should note that the summer curriculum does not offer individual tutorials in any areas beyond the courses specified above; however, the program does provide opportunities for fellows to work individually with teachers during theses summer courses.  Fellows can sign up for one or more 15-minute time slots every day and receive individualized help from a CASA teacher on topics that may not be addressed during regular class hours.

The Fall Semester

The CASA fall-semester in Cairo offers approximately fourteen weeks of instruction and is devoted to the overall development of all language skills. Like the summer, the fall semester curriculum consists of a fixed set of courses that each fellow must take; no tutorials or elective courses are offered.  Students are expected to spend 5-6 hours every weekday working on homework assignments and about 10-12 hours on the weekend. The fall curriculum provides between 16 -18 contact hours per week distributed among the following courses:

  • Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA) (6 hours per week)
    The aim of this course is to continue to develop the fellows' proficiency in ECA and to further expand the work begun in the summer program. Emphasis in the fall is placed on enhancing cultural proficiency, expanding vocabulary, improving grammatical accuracy, and developing the learners' ability to mix elements from ECA and MSA depending on various social contexts.  In order to accommodate varying levels of proficiency, fellows are placed in different sections based on their levels.
  • Reading and Vocabulary Building (6 hours per week)
    This course aims to build students' reading skills and strategies and increase their ability to handle extended texts with higher levels of speed, comprehension, and accuracy. It also aims to expand both general and specialized vocabulary in order to develop proficiency in reading a variety of text genres. The course utilizes both fiction and nonfiction reading materials and requires extensive work both inside and outside the classroom. The course involves a substantial amount of writing to reinforce vocabulary control and enhance grammatical accuracy. The course is organized around certain themes chosen by the faculty and fellows (e.g., language and society, the Arabs and the West, identity, globalization, economic development, etc.). These themes also allow integration among all the fall semester courses, providing repeated exposure to the same range of vocabulary in reading, listening, writing, and speaking activities. Class activities include in-class timed readings, vocabulary building activities, extended discussions and presentations on materials read.  Fellows are placed in different sections based on their levels of proficiency.
  • Listening and Speaking (6 hours per week)
    Two main objectives underlie the fall semester listening course: 1) to further improve the fellows' ability to comprehend the various spoken registers of Arabic, and 2) to enhance their ability to make extended formal oral presentations in MSA.

    The course provides a variety of listening materials from the media in both MSA and Educated Arabic that contains a mixture of ECA and MSA. In addition, this course utilizes the CASA Fall Lecture Series for further exposure to academic presentations in Arabic. This course also has multiple sections, to which students are assigned according to proficiency level.

The Fall Lecture Series
During the fall semester, CASA offers a lecture series that constitutes an integral part of the academic program in general and the Listening Comprehension course in particular. The lectures are part of the CASA program in Cairo and they deal with a variety of topics and are presented by leading Egyptian academics and intellectuals. The lecture series is intended to supplement the themes of the reading course and to provide further listening practice.

The Cultural Program
In addition to courses and the lecture series, CASA students participate in the diverse cultural program offered by CASA in cooperation with the Arabic Language Institute (ALI) at AUC.

Fall Course Objectives and Requirements:

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CASAwiyyuun Bila Huduud

The CASAwiyyuun  Bila Huduud program is a community-based component of CASA that is intended to provide the  fellows with an opportunity to pursue long-term projects outside of the classroom setting, developing language skills through direct interaction with Egyptians.  Fellows begin these projects in the fall semester and continue their work until the conclusion of the spring semester.    

The Spring Semester

The spring semester represents the culmination of the CASA program. In the spring, fellows have the chance to tailor the program to their own academic and professional needs and to fully utilize the advanced language skills they have developed during the summer and fall, in working with Arabic materials in their own fields of specialization. The harder fellows have worked in the summer and fall semesters, the more they will be able to take advantage of and enjoy the spring semester.

Each fellow is required to take four (4) courses, approximately 12 contact hours per week. These courses include:

  • CASAwiyyuun Bila Huduud, a Community based learning course which they have started in the fall semester.
  • Three (3) elective courses.

Fellows may opt to take three language courses (such as Egyptian Colloquial Literature, Translation, Media Arabic, and History of Egypt through Egyptian Movies), or may focus on courses related to her/his research (such as Literature, Religion, Sociology, or Economics). Many fellows choose to combine both content courses with language and non-language courses. The spring semester offers a great deal of flexibility, and allows fellows to set their own curriculum. In consultation with the CASA Executive Director in Cairo, fellows choose from a list of courses that have been previously offered or may customize a course and seek a faculty member for the field of study. Note: Financial restrictions prevent CASA from offering individual tutorials. Any spring course offered must have a minimum enrollment of five fellows.

Most of the CASA spring semester faculty is drawn from the Arabic Language Institute (ALI) at AUC, as well as from various Egyptian universities and research institutes. CASA faculty members are leading specialists in their academic fields and conduct spring courses at an advanced to superior level, which is how these courses are typically offered throughout Egyptian universities.

  • CASAwiyyuun Bila Huduud (Core Course, 3 hours per week)
    Begins in the fall term and extends through spring.

    Each student designs and completes a community project related to their academic and/or general interests. Fellows will engage with the target language community so they can develop superior language proficiency, improve intercultural competence and establish significant lifelong social networks.  Each fellow will work with a supervising professor and develop a course agreement specifying the nature of their project. Student projects may include volunteer service with a local organization and are highly encouraged, but are not required. Course projects involving volunteer service will require a signed student-organization agreement, outlining roles and responsibilities and should be submitted to the supervising professor. 
  • Elective Courses
    The following are some of the spring courses that have been previously offered at AUC: Advanced Oral & Written Media, Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, Literature, Translation, Advanced Listening and Academic Presentations, Arabic Literature (All Ages), History of Egypt Through Films, Palestinian Literature, Fantastic Literature, Political Islam, Arabic Grammar, Arabic Poetry, Contemporary Arab Politics,  Islamic Political Philosophy, Kuttaab (Traditional Quranic Memorization and Recitation), Sociology of the Fatwa, Medieval Texts, Popular Culture, Qur'an and Hadith.

The Cultural Program

During the spring semester, AUC offers several trips to various parts of Egypt. Previous excursions have included the Monastery of St. Catherine, Mt. Moses and Nuweiba, Marsa, Matrouh and Siwa Oasis, Oasis of the Western Desert.

Spring Course Objectives and Requirements:

PDF files require Adobe's Acrobat Reader software, a free download from Adobe's website.

What Does a CASA Full-Year Fellowship Cover?

Each CASA I fellow will receive the following:

  • Roundtrip airfare to/from Cairo, Egypt. Travel is restricted to CASA program dates.
  • Paid tuition for all courses.
  • A monthly stipend of $500-550 USD to help meet living expenses, plus 1,200 Egyptian Pounds (LE) per year for excursions with ALI.
  • Program-related tours of Cairo and subsidized trips to historical sites in Egypt.

The CASA program will handle all travel reservations and issue tickets to fellows upon confirmation. CASA fellows are responsible for arranging and paying for their housing and meals. Each CASA full-year fellow is expected to pay a non-refundable program fee of $1,850 (Consortium rate*) or $2,500 (Non-Consortium rate), in addition to purchasing the CASA Medical Insurance Policy. *Please note that only applicants affiliated with a CASA Consortium School, at the time program fees are due, are eligible for the Consortium rate.