Study Arabic in Palestine with The Excellence Center

Video and Photos

Dinner at my teacher Ibrahim's house
Dinner at my teacher Ibrahim's house
Road trip
Road trip
Dinner with Excellence staff
Dinner with Excellence staff
Center
Center
Excellence Center certificate
Excellence Center certificate
Excellence Center certificate
Excellence Center certificate
Excellence Center certificate
Excellence Center certificate
April feast
April feast

About

The Excellence Center would like to invite you to participate in the Study Arabic Intensive Program in Hebron. The Arabic Program combines studying Arabic with an immersion into the Palestinian culture and history.

International participants study the Arabic language with Palestinian teachers in interactive ways. Language studies include learning the Palestinian dialect and Modern Standard Arabic. We offer Arabic courses for all levels from starters to advanced learners. The Excellence Center provides international students with all necessary books needed in the course.

The Study Arabic Program is a singular opportunity for students searching to make a unique difference in their lives. While studying Arabic in Hebron, they are also involved in community development activities that are organized by the Excellence Centre.

The program is an optimal opportunity that gives an intimate, first-hand experience of Palestinian life and the political realities of that life in Hebron

Highlights
  • Stay with a Palestinian family in Hebron
  • Engagement with Palestinian youth in cultural and educational activities
  • Visit unique tourist attractions with a non-touristic perspective
  • Live and engage in the Palestinian daily life
  • Meet new people and make new Palestinian and international friends

Join Our Family in Palestine and Germany

Welcome to the Excellence Center: People who are between 18 – 75 years old are eligible to participate in all of our programs in Palestine and Germany. All nationalities and majors are welcome! You do not have to have any degree to join us. The Excellence Center hosts internationals year-round. Participants decide when they would like to start and end their programs. We are very flexible when it comes to starting and ending dates.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.41 Rating
based on 117 reviews
  • Academics 9.1
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 9.2
  • Instruction 9.4
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.7
  • Value 9.6
Showing 9 - 16 of 117
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Chris
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Adult Language Learner Intermediate Level

My name is Adam Hammouda, and I’m a 31 year old product manager. With a degree in Physics and a M.S in Computer Science from the University of Chicago, I take my education very seriously, and I have found my learning experience here in Hebron at the Excellence Center extremely valuable. I’ve been focused on conversational Arabic (Shami dialect) for 3 weeks. Without any formal education in Arabic I’ve had to rely on the value of the books, and authentic materials I’ve been able to unearth to bring myself to a roughly intermediate level. Approximately 3 months prior to my study I worked with a private tutor before coming to the excellence center, who prepared my conversational skills in the Shami dialect.

I came here expecting only a moderate amount of structure in which to practice my speaking skills, and to seat my current knowledge of Arabic in some real world experiences in navigating a predominantly Arabic speaking part of the world. Having only 3 weeks off from my full time work, I spent quite some time searching the internet for opportunities available to get the most out of a language learning experience, and the excellence center was far and above the most transparently advertised, and clearly well trodden destination for language learning.

What I found when I arrived was:
1.) There instructions to get to and from Tel Aviv were quite clear
2.) There was a very warm and welcoming staff - in spite of having visitors from far away come and go daily, maintained the hospitality the region is famous for. Unless my lesson was going way over time, I never once felt like I was ‘someones job’
3.) The language instructors are quite serious about imparting well spoken Arabic (in my case colloquial), and a love of the language itself.

I had 3 weeks of private speaking lessons for 3 hours, which helped me to acquire an innumerable amount of patterns for sentence structure, new vocabulary, and constant repetition (my instructor Shayma was extremely good at reminding me of my mistakes, and guiding me towards self sufficiency in my speaking and listening). We focused on vocabulary and topics of interest to me (family, work, daily life, and literary analysis), but she clearly could have directed a lesson for someone with less experience in the language, or without a preference for topics of interest. In fact after observing my weaknesses for our first 2 full days of class, she stopped our normal day to day to deliver a more structured lesson going over some of the weaknesses in my conjugation and grammar that she observed.

These lessons were re-enforced by the presence of an extremely warm community around the center for excellence, who were remarkably patient with my my broken Arabic (unless they were trying to sell me something ;). When dinner or lunch, people would often patiently ask me many questions about my life and experiences as an American in their Arabic, and help me in my replies which gave a great number of opportunities to re-enforce what I was learning in the classroom.

While I was quite worried that the presence of other English speakers with me at the center would harm my progress, I was quite happy that it usually enriched my experience - especially being lucky enough to be here with more accomplished linguists than I who could point to some excellent resources for learning Arabic, and about the Middle East in general.

Additionally, while I didn’t sign up for any volunteer work or tutoring, I was very happy to have an opportunity to help out with 2 or 3 English club sessions. I was immediately charmed by the classroom of 30 odd students, and enjoyed teaching them a little English using my broken Arabic, which they too seemed to find fun.

Finally, there is usually a great deal of preconceived notions about the safety and material wealth of Palestine and the Palestinian people. In this matter I can only speak as a tall white man with an American passport (as I would tell anyone for any place in the world). I found the journey extremely safe, as well as my stay here, and in some ways much safer than places I might frequent in my own neighborhoods in Minneapolis or Chicago. For example, I would never leave my backpack at a table at a coffee shop while using the restroom, but here, I rarely worried about this, and eventually stopped worrying completely.

I would highly recommend the excellence center to future travelers whether language learning or looking for experience in tutoring. Come with an open mind and heart, and you will find the same waiting here.

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

Excellence Centre Review

I am a twenty-four year old master's graduate who studied Palestinian dialect at the Excellence Centre, Hebron for three months between September and December 2019. I also occasionally volunteered to teach English classes when there was a shortage of staff.
One of the main goals of coming to Hebron was to improve my Arabic and, in that respect, my experience was first class. Shayma Sinnokrot, my language instructor for the duration of the three months, was an outstanding teacher and, beyond that, always made me feel incredibly welcome and motivated to learn. Each class I would transcribe dialogue from a Palestinian television series- Salma wa Sari - and Shayma would help me with queries, vocabulary, and the nuances of grammar and pronunciation in dialect. Shayma's help was absolutely invaluable and my Arabic has improved immeasurably under her guidance. In particular, her command of English and her ability to identify differences between modern standard Arabic, which I had studied previously, and the Palestinian dialect were extremely helpful. Shayma is an exceptional linguist and a wonderful person. Anyone coming to Excellence would be blessed to have her as their teacher.
Aside from language studies, a significant amount of my time at Excellence was spent getting to know staff, foreign students, and Palestinians taking English classes at the centre. This was another really enjoyable element of the experience. Marwa and Khitam Shantir, who facilitate the daily running of the centre, are endlessly warm and friendly. Alongside Muhammad Tamimi (Abu Muhannad), they also organised numerous events in the centre and visits around Hebron which enriched my time here.
As a city, Hebron is unique. The contrast between life in the Palestinian-governed area (H1), where the Excellence Centre is located, and that governed by Israel (H2) is stark. In the three months that I was here, the atmosphere in H1 was invariably calm and relaxed with a similar feeling to some other Arab cities that I have visited in the region. It is also a great place to speak Arabic since everyone is extremely welcoming, but many people around town are not fluent in English and there are few tourists. Culturally, Hebron is more conservative than other parts of the West Bank and students should probably be aware of that before they arrive (modest dress and engaging with members of the opposite sex). I should also mention that, during my time here, several female students experienced unwelcome male advances or harassment in Hebron. For the most part, however, they indicated that they still had good experiences overall.
One less enjoyable element of my time in Hebron was my accommodation situation. Although I had agreed (and paid) to live with a Palestinian family in the hope of speaking Arabic to them on a daily basis, I was placed in a different apartment owned by them where I mostly lived alone. I had also been told I would have one meal a day with the family, but they were not willing to provide it. The family also repeatedly refused to give me access to the boiler in my apartment which made for weeks of ice cold showers just as winter was approaching. Having said that, I do know many of the students at Excellence had much more positive experiences with their families and, in my own case, it just meant I spent more time making friends in the town itself.
Overall, the warmth of everyone at the Excellence Centre will be my abiding memory from Hebron and that is something for which I am truly grateful. I learned a great deal, made good friends, and had a wonderful experience in Hebron as well as travelling around other parts of the West Bank. I highly recommend the Excellence Centre as an Arabic language institute.

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

My experience in excellence center

I am Maiko from Japan participated in Individual Arabic study course for two weeks. I enjoyed the stay here a lot thanks to Excellence center.

In Arabic course, I learnt Palestinian Dialect mainly. My teacher is very kind and friendly, she taught me not only Arabic, but also Palestinian cultures and traditions. And her teaching way is brilliant. I had never studied Palestinian Dialect before, so it was really challenging, especially the pronunciation was so hard for me, but she found my weak points and taught me focusing on my weak points. Therefore, after two weeks, I found myself having small conversation in Arabic with host family and shopkeepers in the local shop.

During my stay here, I visited some places in Hebron as Excellence center organized some programs to visit old city, refugees camp and other cultural places. These programs made my stay more meaningful. Especially, the trip to the refugee camp widened my view and brought me deeper understanding about the situation in Palestine. If I was not attending the course in Excellence center, these special opportunities might not be gained. Also, I visited other cities such as Jericho, Jerusalem and Ramallah, sometimes with friends from the center, and sometimes by myself. All places were beautiful and different from each other. To visit new places talking to Taxi drivers and asking the way to local people were like an adventure, and I enjoyed it very much.

Another thing which made my two weeks more special was to stay with host family. I really appreciate their great hospitality. I have never felt lonely in Hebron as they treated me as one of their family members. All Palestinian dishes host mother cooked were very tasty and the teatime which I had with them in almost every night made me cozy and comfortable. Besides host father made me laugh with their cute four children. Therefore, the feeling that I want to communicate with them in Arabic was getting stronger day by day, which encouraged me to learn this challenging language. The time spending with them are so precious.

When I told my family and friends about the trip to Palestine, they worried about me because of negative perspectives which the media provided. But, actually I had never felt unsafe during these two weeks. All staffs, international volunteers and others in Excellence center are very warmhearted. They answer any questions kindly, for example, how to get the bus, how to reach other city and so on. Furthermore, Most Palestinians are helpful, so they give help kindly when we ask them.
For these reasons, I recommend participating in Excellence center in Hebron. Here is the right place to learn Arabic and also to know Palestinian traditions, their cultures and their lives.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Excellence center is very supportive, and people are friendly so, Do not hesitate to come here. you will have special experience which you cannot get in other places.
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Danny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience in Hebron

I studied Arabic for 1 month at the Excellent Centre, Hebron. I had a fantastic teacher who tailored the lessons to my own needs and interests and I left know lots more Arabic than when I arrived.

Everyone at the Centre was very welcoming. There were Arabic students and volunteers from all over the world and it was very interesting to experience Palestine with them.

I was able to visit the Dead Sea, Jericho, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. All of these places are very different and offer a different insight into Palestinian culture.

I also went on several tours organised by the centre, including to a refugee camp and to the Old City.

Hebron is a very, very save place to visit and to stay - it felt just like any other city in the Middle East.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Camel - this on the first day of Eid and was a very memorable experience.
Default avatar
Abusus
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

1 week intensive Arabic course

I really experienced a lot during my time in Hebron. Not only the city but also the Excellence Center made my stay worth it. The intensive course I took gave me a huge step forward in arabic language, even though one week is way too short. I arrived with being able to read the alphabet and saying some basic things, now I feel like I have the knowledge to have full conversations, yet I need waaaay more practice. Which is only possible with more time. So the center gave me the perfect start.
The teacher tailored the course to my special needs and I felt in good hands at all times. Also the welcoming and authentic atmosphere is another reason why I'll recommend the center to friends who'd like to learn arabic.
If I'm back in Palestine I will definitely come back to the center, even if it's only to say marhaba to the nice people here.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you start with arabic, stay more than only a week! I felt that I'd like to stay longer but I already had further plans. This city is really a experience, especially in such a nice environment like the one at the center.
Default avatar
Lena Marie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An incredible and memorable stay

My name is Lena, and I come from Denmark where I am currently studying Political Science. I spent three weeks in July 2019 in Hebron, Palestine studying Arabic at the Excellence Center. I participated in the individual Arabic program which meant that I together with a teacher studied Arabic three hours a day, five days a week. My teacher did not speak much English and thus I really got a chance to practice my Arabic. However, for future students I would recommend that you tell the school before coming whether you think you need a teacher who speaks a higher level of English or not. I loved my teacher and I learned a lot from her, but at times it could have been useful with some deeper clarifications in English.

Before coming to Palestine, I had already studied the Levantine dialect for a year through an evening school program in Denmark. I was interested in improving my spoken Arabic by learning new words and engaging in conversations with Native-Arabic speakers. Studying for three weeks at the Excellence Center did just that and it has encouraged me to improve my Arabic even further.

I had been very excited to live with a Palestinian host family because I was highly interested in learning about the Palestinian culture and people. It was truly an amazing experience. The Palestinian people in general are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. My host family was warm and welcoming towards me and I quickly integrated into the family. We spent many hours either visiting other family members or hosting friends and family at our house. It was a great way to learn about Palestinian customs and practices, practice my Arabic and have a good time. I was also very lucky to have a host mom who cooked the most delicious Palestinian food.

As written above the Palestinian people is one of the most hospitable and helpful people I have ever met. I experienced this on a daily basis regardless of whether I was with my host family, on the street looking for the right bus, or at the Excellence Center studying Arabic. Two experiences stand out in particular. During my stay in Palestine I visited Nablus in the North with two other girls from the center. Because we visited Nablus on a Friday everything turned out to be closed. We were walking around looking for a place to eat but couldn’t find anything. At some point a man approached us and offered his help. He showed us the part of the city, where shops and restaurants were still open and of course the best place to eat knafe in town. The second experience involves my lovely teacher who invited me to her brother’s wedding. I felt truly honored that she wanted me to join this very special moment. It was my first Palestinian wedding, and what an amazing experience. Because there was not room enough at my teacher’s house her aunt and uncle, whom I had never met before, offered to let me sleep at their house after the wedding. Palestinian kindness at its best.

The Excellence Center also offered a lot of activities before or after class. I participated in a political tour through the old city of Hebron, a visit to the Mosque of Ibrahim, a trip to a Bedouin camp surrounded by Israeli settlements, and a political trip to Shuhada street and the surroundings of the Israeli settlement inside the old city. All very interesting tours that informed us about life under Israeli occupation. Other activities though were less serious. Together with the center I visited a kufiyah factory and a traditional Palestinian glass factory, and I learned how to make stuffed egg plants and zucchinis – yummy. There was always something interesting to do.

Finally, I want to highlight the feeling of safety, especially for women travelling alone. I have been to Palestine travelling by myself several times now, and I have only been met with kindness and generosity from the Palestinian people. My friends often ask if it is not dangerous travelling as a woman by myself in such a place. My answer is that I take the same measures in Palestine as I would do in any other place. Regarding the Israeli Occupation, this is not something that directly affects you as a foreigner. The occupation is there, and it is visible both physically, and mentally, but it is not something that in my opinion affects the level of safety when travelling in the region.

I want to say a huge “thank you” to the Excellence Center, my teacher and my host family for making my stay in Palestine an incredible and memorable experience. Inshallah I will be back soon.

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Digby
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying Arabic at the Hebron Excellence Center

There is an immediate sense of hospitality and kindness that strikes you as you step into the center. The staff, volunteers and students welcome you with open arms full of food and coffee!

Alongside the well structured course tailored to your level, the one on one classes facilitate the opportunity to rapidly improve your knowledge of the language. There are ample occasions to converse with native speakers throughout your trip, getting first hand experience.

The teachers are friendly, providing a flexible schedule to accommodate your travels and trips around Palestine. I thoroughly recommend visits to Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Be prepared: you will leave with lifelong friends, from across the globe, and a desire to return for more!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to stay as long as possible and be prepared to meet as many new friends as possible!
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Maya
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

My experience in Palestine

My name is Maya and I am 19 year old Belgian girl. This year I am having a gap year and I am ready to start my studies in September. I have spent one month learning Arabic in Excellence Center Palestine in Hebron. I followed the intensive Arabic course that gave me the chance to study Arabic very intensively and learn the dialect. Every day I got 3 hours class with a private teacher. This gave me the opportunity to improve my Arabic skills to the fullest. Beside the classes I learned a lot of Arabic from the people in the center and from my guest family.

My time at the center has been unforgettable. There were so many lovely people I got to know in the center and in Hebron. My favorite time of the day is for sure breakfast in the center. Than we all enjoy a super Palestinian breakfast together and have a chat. I really like that everybody here has a passion for Arabic culture and that really connects us. The center organizes different events, activities and day trips that have been always very nice. I for example went on a day trip to Wadi Qelt where we went for a big hike and swam in waterfalls. Sometimes we all cook together in the center and afterwards we enjoy our food and share stories. These evenings are really cozy and ideal to get to know traditional Palestinian dishes. Mostly we have five days classes and two days of. On these days it`s nice to explore Palestine. It's really easy from Hebron to get to other places in the West Bank with public transport. Often people of the center make plans together so you always have people to explore with.

During the week you spent most of your time in Hebron. The center is situated in the most central street of Hebron which makes that everything is really close by. After the class you can easily go to restaurants, to the shops and also the old city is very walkable. Most of Hebron I got to know thanks to my guest family who took us to many places and always let us know where we could eat delicious Palestinian food. Hebron is as well a very safe place. I often walked alone in Hebron and this was never an issue. For me it is mostly because there are so many people in the streets that I never feel scared. Most people are very helpful and know English. Especially in daylight I feel very safe, in the night I prefer to not walk alone in the streets and have somebody with me. But that’s the same in a lot of Belgian cities. Also the other Palestinian cities are very nice to spend time in.

I am already planning my next trip to Palestine and probably I will come back to the Excellence Center. It is just the ideal way to learn Arabic and explore Palestine. I am so happy I took this chance and that I had this unforgettable time at the Excellence Center.