The Tunisian Arabic lessons given by the White Sisters have a long history!
After the courses given by the White Fathers at IBLA, the White Sisters organized a basic plan of more intensive courses from 1937. A Learning Centre was founded in 1957 in Montfleury (a district of Tunis) as well as a library for secondary school students.
Intended initially for young White Sisters studying literary and dialectal Arabic, with training in Islamology, the language centre has gradually opened up to other foreigners living and working in Tunisia. The first candidate was a doctor who felt the need to speak Arabic with patients and their families. The Learning Centre ensured the teaching of Tunisian Arabic to foreigners and training in Tunisian culture.
In 2017, the “Maison d’Etudes de Montfleury” closed its doors and the Tunisian Arabic lessons were transferred to Tunis, to the premises of the Prelature, near the cathedral of Tunis. This refocusing in the city centre allows more students to benefit from lessons. In 2020, following requests, courses are also given in the library of the White Sisters of La Marsa. The COVID-19 pandemic is opening another door with online courses.
Students come from all continents; they are pupils, entrepreneurs, professors, journalists, project managers, researchers, spouses of Tunisians, retirees…
The good reputation of the method of Sister Madeleine Prim and the teaching given by the instructors attracts them!
Specific training and pedagogy
After a university education in linguistics at the Sorbonne University in France, Sister Madeleine Prim put her knowledge at the service of the Tunisian Arabic language. Gradually she developed a teaching method.
From the learning point of view, the effort is immediately put on the accuracy of the pronunciation, the writing in Arabic and the memorization of the structures of the most usual sentences, thanks to a well thought out grammatical progression. Repetition is an important element also in the stages of teaching. An audio accompanies the method to facilitate memorization of the texts and vocabulary presented.
One of the objectives is to facilitate adaptation to the country and to enter into a relationship more easily; in the details of ordinary life, to greet – to know polite formulas – to ask for directions – to go to the grocer – etc… This effort to learn in order to meet others in everyday life is immediately appreciated and a source of joy on both sides. Speaking the language of the people who welcome us changes everything in our relationships!
“To learn the language of a people is to prepare to belong to it”: Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, founder of the congregation of the “White Sisters”, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa.
The course program in 2022
From the beginning of October to mid-June: annual courses of 2h/week or 4h/week in the morning or in the evening, Online courses, Possibility of having private lessons.
In July, intensive sessions.