ABTS is a Christian Evangelical theological seminary passionate about training faithful women and men to effectively serve the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). ABTS offers a residential program which attracts individual students, married couples and families from at least ten nations from the MENA region. Students who are dedicated to working in their home countries are encouraged to develop a mindset and skills to help them mobilize their churches to make an impact in ever-changing, challenging and sometimes high-risk environments. To enable ABTS to do this effectively, its leadership visit churches in several MENA countries to better understand their contexts and help them to identify potential leaders. Since February 2015 there has also been an online self-tutored program to reach those who are unable to study at the ABTS campus. The number of online students is expected to grow significantly in the next few years.
IMES is a research and resource institute within ABTS with a clear mandate to bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond. It has three strategic goals: peacebuilding, education, and human rights and advocacy. IMES runs a multidisciplinary Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MREL) that seeks to help individuals understand issues in the MENA context. Every June, IMES holds a Middle East Consultation that seeks to equip participants to respond in prophetic and Christ-like ways to the many challenges facing Christians and Muslims in and beyond the Middle East. It also runs in the summer a Middle East Immersion internship program which has proved life-changing for many participants. IMES is developing an initiative called the Feast to build friendships between young people from different faiths. It has its own Arabic language school in central Beirut (Academy of Languages and Practical Skills or ALPS) and a popular blog on Christian and Muslim issues.
ALPS is a language school established by IMES which caters to students of every level and offers instruction in both Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Spoken Lebanese Arabic. All Arabic lessons incorporate the daily life and culture of Beirut enabling students to put their learning into practice right from the first day. Since the Lebanese learn Spoken Arabic in the home, not in school, it can be difficult to find a good curriculum. ALPS textbooks, Lebnani w Aktar, have been developed by linguistic specialists, perfected through years of experience, and proven to produce great results.
“... Lebnani w Aktar is designed to introduce non-Arabs to the Arab culture of Levantine peoples through the study of language, as they seek to assimilate both their diverse and common traditions. Each will learn how to communicate with the Lebanese people, as well as Syrians, Jordanians and Palestinians, in their own language: Levantine colloquial Arabic”, said Joelle Giappesi, Manager of Academy of Languages and Practical Skills.
“Our mission as ALPS is to enable the learners to interact with individuals authentically and appropriately. We are therefore presenting the colloquial language in the dress of its speakers’ cultural traditions, encouraging a spontaneous feel for the different contexts that call for diverse types of expression and so give the skill to adapt the colloquial language to the cultural traditions of people they interact with”, said Giappesi.
“We have been developing this curriculum since ABTS’ Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) established its Arabic language school - ALPS”, said Martin Accad, Director of IMES. “Although we have been using the method extensively, we have never published it officially. Yet it continues to prove very successful and to draw students from all walks of life.”
Giappesi, who is also the author and General Series Editor for ALPS Curriculum clarified that “Lebnani w Aktar is born from a desire to work, through language, toward a rapprochement between the Levantine culture and various western cultures and to bear witness to the health of the Levantine cultural heritage, which is inherently endowed with a deep desire for integrating the diversities and differences of global cultures. ALPS’ Lebnani w Aktar is derived from our strategic emphasis on authentic communication between peoples.”
ALPS is located in Beirut near the American University of Beirut in Hamra.
Visit ALPS' blog to pick your program and to find out more about ALPS and studying Arabic in Beirut.