Location
  • Palestine
Length
4 to 12 weeks
Language
Arabic

Program Details

Language Level
BeginnerIntermediateAdvanced
Immersion Level
Intensive Standard
Specialized Courses
Business Medical Professional Specific Purposes Teaching
Class Size
Private Lessons Small Class (1-7)
Weekly Classroom Hours
30
Housing
Apartment Guesthouse Host Family Hostel
Age Min.
18

Pricing

Starting Price
1290
Price Details
The program fees include: pre-departure support, accommodations with a host family, some meals, full coordination while volunteering in Palestine, and some visits to different sites in the city of Hebron.
What's Included
Accommodation Some Activities Classes Some Meals
What's Not Included
Some Activities Airfare Some Meals
Jan 07, 2022
Jun 29, 2022
25 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

For anyone interested in learning Levantine (Ammiya), Modern Standard Arabic or an Arabic dialect in Israel, Palestine, or the Middle East in general, the Excellence Center (EC) in Palestine provides super-intensive, intensive and non-intensive Arabic language immersion courses for international students of all ages and abilities. Since 2011, the Excellence Center has welcomed students, graduates, professionals and retired people, seeking to come live and learn among Palestinians in the city of Hebron, West Bank, Palestine. Our Arabic language programs are for all levels of Arabic language studies: first time learners, beginners, intermediate level speakers and advanced learners.

Furthermore, at the center we offer our Arabic immersion classes year-round (Summer, Winter, Fall, and Spring). These Arabic language programs from our base in Hebron, Palestine, West Bank, span from one week to three months.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Besides developing your Arabic language skills, students will experience various aspects of the Palestinian culture through their living arrangements with host families and various local trips as well as the Excellence Center’s in-house and local activiti
  • The Study Arabic Program in Palestine will give you the opportunity to live in and gain impressions from one of the most politically divisive and ambivalent regions of the Middle East.
  • The Intensive Arabic Courses offered in our programs: Modern Standard Arabic, Levantine (Shami) dialects, Ammiya, Classical and Palestinian Arabic using up-to-date teaching techniques in an intensive learning environment.
  • The Arabic Immersion Program will provide you the chance to visit unique tourist attractions with a particular native perspective – locations including Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarm, Qalqilyah, Jenin and the Dead Sea in Jericho.
  • Our center is staffed by well-qualified, attentive Arabic teachers, each with an excellent educational background, ready and happy to help you.

Related Programs

Program Reviews

9.41 Rating
based on 129 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 87.6%
  • 7-8 rating 11.63%
  • 5-6 rating 0.78%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Instruction 9.1
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.8
  • Value 9.2
Showing 1 - 8 of 129 reviews
Default avatar
Vicky
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intensive Arabic Program

My name is Vicky and I am Costa Rican-American. I studied International Studies at American University in Washington, DC, and I specialized in environmental sustainability and peace and conflict resolution. I also studied Arabic for three years in college, but I wanted to come to the Excellence Center to practice the language more and learn the Palestinian dialect in the Intensive Arabic Program. I spent a month at the Excellence Center. I chose to come to Palestine because I wanted to support the Palestinian people and their freedom from occupation and I love Palestinian culture, like Elia Suleiman’s films, writing from Mahmoud Darwish and Ghassan Kanafani, and dabke. I travelled to Palestine four years ago but I only spent two weeks in Nablus and Jerusalem, and I wanted to return to make deeper connections with the people and the country.

At the Excellence Center, I took three hours of Arabic lessons five days a week. Although I had previously studied Modern Standard Arabic for three years in university, I realized that I did not have much practice speaking in the dialect. After a month of practice with my teacher every day, I feel much more confident in my ability to hold conversations with people on a variety of topics.

The staff, teachers, and volunteers at the Center foster a welcoming environment, especially as we gather together for breakfast, have coffee together throughout the day, and often have conversations about complex topics outside of class. Sometimes after my lessons, I joined the other students and volunteers on tours to the Old City, the Ibrahimi Mosque, the Hirbawi Kufiya factory, Hebron University, and the National Association of Human Rights Defenders. Outside of the Center, I travelled with a group of volunteers to Nablus, where we stayed in a cultural center at Balata refugee camp. I also travelled with some volunteers to Ramallah one weekend, and we visited the Yasser Arafat Museum.

I enjoyed living with my host family, speaking Arabic with them, helping the children practice English, and trying traditional foods like warak diwali and molokhia with rice. We celebrated family members' birthdays together. The family home has a beautiful garden, and sometimes I would go home in the afternoon to study Arabic in the garden, but sometimes all of the children would come to our section of the house and it could be hard to focus on work. But most of all, the family is very sweet and generous. Even though I will be in Ramallah next month, my host mom invited me to return in two weeks for Eid al-Adha, and I am looking forward to spending this special holiday with them.

When I first came to Palestine four years ago, my first impression was that people are so kind and willing to help you even if they hardly know you. Now, my impression is the same, and this is what I liked most about Palestine and why I wanted to return. There have been several times where I speak to someone I hardly know, and they invite me to their homes for coffee or dinner. I feel very safe in Palestine, maybe even safer than I do in the United States or at home in San José, Costa Rica.

One of my favorite memories about Palestine occurred a few days ago, when I was walking alone through the Old City and I saw an old woman sitting in front of her shop where she sold traditional tatreez embroidery. By coincidence, I realized I had met her three years ago in Washington, DC when I worked at a magazine on Middle East affairs, and she had been invited to sell her products there in DC. She invited me to drink tea, and we began to speak in Arabic about the occupation, the situation in the Old City, and how her organization supports women in the villages near Hebron, giving them an opportunity to sell their beautiful, handmade products. It was a memorable experience. I could understand the conversation in Arabic, despite the complicated topics, and I learned so much from her.

In spite of violent occupation, the Palestinian culture and identity is alive and beating, and I have an immense respect for everyone in Hebron and Palestine. I recommend the Excellence Center, especially to those who want to join the Intensive Arabic Program. Thank you!

Pros
  • Language instruction
  • Friends - local and foreign
  • Palestinian hospiality
Cons
  • Need money to sustain your program
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Sheila
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY

My name is Sheila, 45 years, from Germany, more precisely from a little village called Glems, population 1200, located in the southwest of Germany. I would describe myself as blessed, very curious, young at heart, fearless and of course somehow charmingly crazy in my own way.

Then:
I quit running a hostel and being self-employed in January 2021.
During Covid I had a lot of time to think about myself, we all experienced that, even though I wasn´t inactive, I worked for friends´ businesses, did any kinds of office works, waitressing, cleaned up… and I figured out what I really love:
People, making people at least smile, helping, travelling and broadening my horizon.
At that time Afghanistan was the main subject in the news and I realized that I reacted emotionally strong to the stories of people who had to leave their country under fear of death…Refugees! THAT´S IT!
There are refugee-projects all over the world, most refugees need existential help and most refugees are from Arabic speaking countries – great, I always wanted to learn a totally different language and I always wanted to go on a language trip…

Now:
I´m sitting in the sunny front of the apartment that´s owned by the best Palestinian host family Marwa & Osama moved me to, sharing the apartment with an American Mormon beauty, writing about myself, Palestine and the Excellence Center after I spent 3 months from the 27th March until the 26th June 2022 as a totally changed person.
On the one hand I could write a book on every single day I had here and on the other hand the situations, experiences, and stories that happened here just make me speechless.
But one thing is for sure: I am a part of a lot of families now!

Excellence Center:
Marwa & Osama are the heart, Rafat is managing from Germany, with the lovely Khitam and the highly passionate teachers and of course some of their excellent family members at the Excellence Center.
I started with the Intensive Arabic Course, 20 hours per week of one-to-one lessons. The time I started there were not a lot of students, so I was lucky to have the one-to-one lessons as a total beginner starting Arabic from zero.
Nada, my teacher, is 23 years old, professional, structured and very patient. Her lessons were always prepared, she was very aware of my needs and my way of learning, flexible to adjust at any point of progress, so that I felt comfortable and successful. I love her!
After one month I changed into the Refugees Program.
That basically means teaching English (mostly to children), interviewing refugees, local people and different organizations about structures, economy, education, all-day-living, the issues, struggles and human rights violations caused by the occupation.
It then turned out that the Refugees Program became a mixture between the Refugees Program and the Human Rights Program that even surpassed my expectations.
I appreciated the flexibility of Osama. He had to deal with my individual expectations like
- I had never taught before at all,
- I didn’t want to teach children,
- I was interested in economic structures, education system, possibilities and solutions
He made it possible that I experienced all of it in a for me perfect way.
I taught adult refugees in the refugee camp, I had an English Club with teenage girls and I interviewed lawyers, teachers, activists against human right violation and children’s right violation, managers of different kinds of community centers etc.
I visited schools, kindergardens, the Hebron chamber of commerce, a Bedouin village and all the pride the Palestinian people have in trying to change the situation and seek freedom.
It was always possible to tell Osama about your interests or if you wanted to dive deeper into a subject, he is the one who helps you to meet with the right people.
Marwa organizes all the teachers, students, volunteers, internal workshops and meetings about teaching and studying in general, or presentations about the experiences of leaving students and volunteers. And Marwa is responsible for the host families and apartments. Besides that she teaches Arabic and she is a mother of the happiest one-year-old girl in the world. She leads the most unpredictable parts and I don’t know how she does it – huge respect!
She has to deal with a lot of sudden changes every day, literally everyone has different needs at different times, no structure, no red line, nothing to rely on… and guess:
She´s able to move mountains to make you happy. THANK YOU min albii!

All in one, the Excellence Center has a vibe that is very welcoming, warm and familiar. As I confirmed to Rafat 4 months ago, he sent a message with “Welcome to the family”.
Me as a German I just thought “yes standard – phrase, nice and polite”. Now I know better… I AM part of the family and it feels great!

Palestine:
Yes, it is there and it is real and it is existent!
Palestine is beautiful, authentic, lively, heartfelt, hospitable, resistant, religious, proud, safe, funny, mind- and life-changing and EXISTENT!

I recommend Hebron, I highly recommend the Excellence Center and I recommend the experiences you’ll just get here in Palestine!

Pros
  • Hospitality
  • Language
  • Coffee
Cons
  • No heating system in the cold season
4 people found this review helpful.
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Sheila,

Thank you so much for leaving us an excellent review. We're thrilled you loved your Study Arabic in Palestine Program at the Excellence Center. We'll be sure to pass along your kind words.

We are very glad that you enjoyed your stay and had an amazing experience in Hebron, Palestine.

We wish you all the best and hope to write “Welcome to the family” in the near future

With kind regards,
The Excellence Center team

Default avatar
Katrina
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intensive Arabic Program (1-1 for 3 weeks)

I participated in the intensive Arabic program (1 on 1 for 3 weeks). I was nervous about doing 1-1 at first thinking we would hit some walls and have nothing to do, but it really was exactly the opposite. (Most) of the teachers are focused, dedicated, and will make sure the time is fully utilized, even in 1-1 lessons for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. If you are a more advanced student, its also great because you have the opportunity to even take tours in the old city in Arabic with your teacher if you do so choose. This really is an amazing, unique experience learning the language and being able to advance your arabic level while also learning from someone who has lived in Hebron their whole life and can share first-hand about their experience there. You will learn about Arabic, Palestinian life in Hebron, and maybe even yourself if you are lucky. :)

The Excellence Center is located in Hebron Palestine and really is easy to get to. From Ben Gurion airport, travel to Jerusalem and from Damascus Gate it is very easy to get affordable public transportation. I felt completely safe in Hebron and highly recommend other Arabic students or those who wish to volunteer and educate themselves on Palestinian issues to visit the center.

You will be included in the family there and there are many other foreigners present to help with any issues that arise at the center.

Pros
  • Inclusion
  • On the ground experiece
3 people found this review helpful.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Katrina,

Thank you for leaving us an excellent review. We're thrilled you loved your experience studying Palestine and Levantine Arabic (Private Course) in Hebron, Palestine and we'll be sure to pass along your kind words. Thanks for your kind words and we look forward to seeing you again in Palestine

With kind regards,
The Excellence Center team

Default avatar
Maria
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

(Non-)Intensive Arabic Program EC in Palestine

I came to the Ecxellence Center to do the none-intensive Arabic program (2 hours per day) for almost 3 months. Studying Arabic, especially the Shami dialect, has been my project for a few years now, therefore I felt the need to expose myself to an Arabic speaking environment again. When I decided to go to Hebron, I got a lot of curious reactions from my Arabic friends who asked me, why I would go to the city, which is famous for its sometimes amusing called dialect. But during my time here I got to love that dialect, that in my opinion differs from the other regional dialects mainly in the expressive pronunciation of letters and words. For me that makes a lot of sense since the people here are as expressive as their way of speaking.

The hospitality of the people in Hebron is incredible, they are eager to welcome you in their life and in their culture. That ensures not only daily interesting conversations with a lot of new people but also the feeling of safety any day- or nighttime. Compared to other cities, European or Arabic, I felt very safe and positive, that there are always people around, who would love to help me with whatever concerns I would have.

During my time in Hebron, I spent a lot of my time in the Excellence Center, which provides next to the daily breakfast, classes and activities a nice place to just hang out and meet all the interesting people, both locals and foreigners, with their interesting stories and biographies. I gained a lot from the daily exchange of experiences, stories, thoughts and views and in addition to the instructive program planned out by the Center, the conversations to others helped me to reflect on my own experiences. The familiar atmosphere at the Center made it easy for me, to feel at home and to even build new friendships. The daily Arabic classes with my super competent teacher helped me to get the most out of my time here and improve my Arabic in a way I could never manage from home.

As a woman I lived with a host family, where I shared my room with another woman. In general, that ensures not only language practice but also an authentic experience on Palestinian hospitality and family life. Of course every family is different and living with one sometimes requires good communication about personal needs and boundaries. But the Excellence Center is very helpful when it comes to improving living conditions and I experienced, that they try their best to make us as comfortable as possible and respect our needs and wishes.

Spending time in Hebron, at the Excellence Center, is a great opportunity for gaining other perspectives, learning so much about a very relevant part of the world, meeting nice and interesting people, eating good food and improving the own ability to adapt to new circumstances and to learn more flexibility, for example when it comes to schedules. I can just recommend to everyone to go to Hebron, to see for him- or herself, to be curious and open minded, because the experience will be worth it.

2 people found this review helpful.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Maria,

Thank you for leaving us an excellent, detailed, informative and amazing review.

We're thrilled you loved your experience studying Shami Arabic (Arabic Non-Intensive Program) in Hebron, Palestine and we'll be sure to pass along your kind words.

Thanks for your kind words and we look forward to seeing you again in Palestine

With kind regards,
The Excellence Center team

Default avatar
Ben
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great opportunity!

The Excellence Center is a great place for anyone looking to improve their Arabic, gain cultural exposure, and learn more about the political situation in Palestine. After 2 weeks there, I advanced in Arabic more than I expected and felt part of the Excellence Center family.

This is a wonderful opportunity for those needing flexibility. You can go as little as one week, and you can choose your exact start and end dates. It's great for people with full-time jobs who can't take off a whole semester.

3 people found this review helpful.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Ben,

Thank you for leaving us an excellent review.

We're thrilled you loved your studying Palestinian Arabic experience in Hebron, Palestine and we'll be sure to pass along your kind words.

Thanks for your kind words and we look forward to seeing you again in Palestine

With kind regards,
The Excellence Center team

Default avatar
Victoria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience in Hebron

Hi I’m Victoria, I’m based in Scotland. I spent 2 weeks at the Excellence Center studying Arabic. I had some basic Arabic before I arrived in Hebron- but just greetings, a few words and a basic understanding of the alphabet. My two weeks at the Excellence centre were fantastic; we went back to basics with the alphabet but progressed very quickly to greetings, vocabulary and verbs. By the end of my time there I was chatting to people in the taxi about my family and job.

The Center itself is very well located off the main street- easy to locate because its next to the stadium. And very close to a very friendly coffee shop that does a great latte, for those rare times that an Arabic coffee is not exactly what you need. The staff at the centre are all lovely and very welcoming, particularly Marwa and her family. Eating breakfast together every day really helps you get to know the other participants at the excellence centre, and they tend to come from diverse and interesting backgrounds, which give you a new insight into Palestine and the Arabic language. The centre also arranged several visits to the old city, which were very informative, and the staff are comfortable to talk about day to day life in Palestine.

Living in Hebron City was a great experience. The city feels safe, people are friendly and happy to talk but also very respectful of boundaries. I felt safer in Hebron than I have done in some British cities in the evening. And the food, of course, is superb. My host family were absolutely delightful; helpful, friendly, interesting and provided wonderful food. I feel I have made some friends for life, and I am very keen to return next year to Hebron next year.

In summary, I am very pleased I chose Palestine and the Excellence Center as my destination to learn more Arabic and experience the Palestinian culture. Lovely people, great food and a fantastic experience.

Just one word on the logistics, the Excellence center website talks in a lot of detail about how to get to Hebron from Ben Gurion airport. The shared taxi from Damascus Gate in Jerusalem doesn’t run all the time- especially in the early morning, so I took the 231 bus to Bethlehem and got a shared taxi from there, or you can get a 234 to Bethlehem check point, go through the checkpoint and get a shared taxi from the other side. People are really happy to help you in Palestine :)

Pros
  • Very friendly people
  • Fantastic food
  • Interesting place
4 people found this review helpful.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Victoria,

Thank you for leaving us an excellent review.

We're thrilled you loved your experience studying Levantine Arabic (individual Course) in Hebron, Palestine and we'll be sure to pass along your kind words. Thanks for your kind words and we look forward to seeing you again in Palestine

With kind regards,
The Excellence Center team

Default avatar
Moritz
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Review Arabic Intense

My time at the Excellence Center was a fantastic intellectual, intercultural and social journey. Every week day (Sunday to Thursday) I had 3,5 hours of Arabic class with the extremely knowledgeable and pedagogically apt Doha as my teacher. Not only did Doha help me drastically improve my Palestinian dialect Arabic skills, she also was always able to teach me grammatical concepts and words in a fun and motivating way. She also adapted the class teaching plan according my needs whenever necessary. In addition to being a great teacher, Doha - and also her sister Saja who is also a teacher at the Excellence Center - conversed with me a lot in our free time at the school and thus introduced me to colloquial expressions, jokes and everyday language. The other staff at the Excellence Center was also always very helpful when I needed any specific information about Hebron or its surrounding (e.g. when I needed to get to Dura, a town next to Hebron), and even more great companions during my 1-month stay at the Excellence Center. Moreover the stories Anas and Ibrahim told me about their everyday life were exceedingly interesting and pertinent to my work as a doctoral researcher on Palestine. The center managers, Osama and Marwa, were also always willing to compromise and accommodate my needs regarding my living situation.

Contrary to what you may hear from Western media, Hebron is actually a very safe and fun city to live in (in H1 area). There are many cafes and pastry shops that are open all day and long into the night. The food is among the best Ive ever had. I was in Hebron during 2 weeks of Ramadan and must say that the Muslim month of fasting quite changes the city`s vibe. Restaurants and most stores are closed all day and life only awakes in the night. It is a interesting cultural experience for sure, but if you are keen on experiencing the culinary culture of Khalil to its fullest you might want to reconsider whether you want to come during Ramadan. Overall, the hospitality in Khalil is amazing. There were many times I was just invited for coffee or cocktails *(non-alcoholic ones) by strangers and I was also invited to a couple of Iftar dinners which were great fun. The Palestinian hospitality is unparalleled by anything I have seen elsewhere in the world. Last, if you really want 24/7 arabic exposure, I recommend you see if you can stay with a host family, as I was staying in a shared apartment with other foreigners which limited my exposure to Arabic in the evenings. Moreover, I traveled to Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho, which was all very easy because the West Bank is not very big. And before I forget, it is quite cold in March.

Pros
  • Language instruction
  • Palestinian hospitality and culture
  • Community
Cons
  • More exposure to Arabic would have been possible with host family
  • Cold weather in March
  • Culinary richness slumbers during Ramadan
9 people found this review helpful.
Response from The Excellence Center

Hello Moritz,

It was great to hear that you enjoyed Intensive Arabic program in Hebron, Palestine. We really appreciate your detailed review and the fact that you your time at the Excellence Center in Palestine was a fantastic intellectual, intercultural and social journey. We'll be sure to pass along your kind words. Thanks for your kind words

We hope to welcome you back again soon!

With kind regards,
The Excellence Center in Palestine team

Default avatar
Ursula
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

2 Week Intensive Language Course

I spent an amazing two weeks at the Excellence Centre this Easter. I came to boost my spoken Arabic language (I study Arabic at University) and in two weeks the difference is huge - one on one lessons for 3h30 every day really gives time to fill any gaps and address difficulties as they arise in a tailored and efficient way. I had the privilege of living with a host family, so in the evenings I could forget all the grammar and rules and just practise and speak, knowing that I could come back to a grounding class the next day.
Having in the past been quite suspicious of organised, all inclusive packages like this, I really can't recommend it enough, especially if you don't have the luxury of endless months travelling to build connections. Here, you can arrive with a ready-made community - family even - to join, both of Palestinians and foreign students of all ages (who tend to be doing pretty interesting things!)
The coordinators manage to strike the perfect balance between hard-hitting informative trips to learn about the situation in Hebron, and holiday-style trips to the dead-sea or nearby attractions, to let off some steam and enjoy this beautiful country.
A couple of considerations: it's not always warm here, and most houses do not have central heating, so unless you're coming mid-summer bring layers! Due to the challenges of living under occupation, plans can change quickly, and organisers may have to adapt new situations - such as certain roads being closed, checkpoints not manned, or clashes in the city centre. This is not a cause for concern in terms of safety (which is always put first) but you do need to be flexible!
What else to say - where ever you're at in your knowledge, political standpoint, personal background etc I would highly recommend this program - there's nothing like coming and seeing things for yourself, learning from human contact and being treated to Palestinian hospitality (the foood) however intimidating the situation may seem from abroad.

Yalla ta3lu!

Pros
  • Language instruction
  • Amazing hospitality
  • Community
Cons
  • Cold!
  • Plans can change
9 people found this review helpful.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Ursula,

Thank you for leaving us an excellent review. We're thrilled you loved your experience at the Excellence Center in Palestine and we'll be sure to pass along your kind words. We put Arabic students satisfaction as our priority and your review reaffirms the hard work we contribute daily. So thanks for your kind words and we look forward to seeing you again in Hebron, West Bank, Palestine.

Thank you,
The Excellence Center in Palestine Team

Questions & Answers