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One of the core strengths of the Shariah Program is its unique methodology and curriculum. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find scholars and experienced Arabic teachers studying our program just to learn how we teach Arabic.
Our methodology combines a traditional Classical Arabic curriculum with an 80/20 focus.
What is this 80/20 focus?
It’s based on the “80/20 Principle”, which says that 80% of your outcomes comes from 20% of your inputs.
This principle can be seen everywhere in life.
It’s in your happiness (80% of your happiness comes from 20% of your friends). It’s in the clothes you wear. Just check your closet or your drawers and you’ll notice that 20% of your clothing you’re probably wearing 80% of the time. Even in the carpets in your house, you’ll see that 20% of them get 80% of the wear and tear. This is why office buildings now have modular carpets because someone figured this out and decided to leverage the principle so the next time they need to change the carpets, they’ll focus on the pathway and the 20% that get the most wear. You get the picture.
The Arabic language is no different. It has a core which consists of roughly 20% of all the rules in the 3 sciences of Grammar (nahw), Morphology (sarf) and Rhetoric (balagha).
The rules that belong to this 20% core have the broadest application by far. These are the fundamentals of Arabic that you would expect to encounter in practically every sentence.
This 20% of rules in Grammar and Morphology are what we focus on in the first semester of class.
Now, within this 20% core, there is an even DENSER inner-core which we call the “Core-4″. Without getting caught up in math, re-applying the “80/20 Rule” with the 20% core, we get an inner core of no more than 4% of all the total rules in the 3 sciences. This 4% inner core accounts for over half of all benefits!
It is by focusing on this 4% first, that we are able to start reading and understanding Arabic in the third week of class.
A Method Rooted in Tradition
Now, although, I don’t know of anyone else who uses the “80/20 Principle” to describe this way of studying Arabic, this method actually isn’t new. It’s the same method that’s been effective in teaching non-Arabs how to understand and properly appreciate the Qur’an from the times of the Sahaba.
It is through the work of brilliant scholars of our past that we can even know where this core 4% is. Through their deep study, they have identified the core and central theme of the language that give us an overall, big picture understanding of how the language works. When a student learns this before anything else, then everything else becomes so much easier.
Each new piece of information has a place to fit within the larger picture. It’s easy to make connections and tie new rules to the ones that we already know. And it’s easier to retain the new information and progress to the next piece because everything is being learned in context.
Experience the method for yourself (for free!)
We believe so strongly in this approach to studying Arabic, that we’ve published a free report about it. This report is now required reading for all of our students and potential students. The 45 page document contains a tremendous amount of teaching including most of the “Core-4%” that we cover in the first weeks of class. We would highly recommend it for any serious student of Arabic.
Here’s what Br. Taimur from Toronto says about it: “Having taken a full year of university level Arabic, I can safely say that just the report covers more than that year’s worth of material.”
The report has been downloaded over 70,000 times since it was released in March 2012. You can get your own free copy here, just by entering your best email address in the field above.