"Rome wasn't built in a day."
Tell that to someone wanting to learn a new language.
If you are looking to be fluent in Arabic and imagine you will be able to learn a new language in a handful of weeks, you are carving out a difficult road for yourself.
However, nothing is impossible!
You will need to be patient, as well as motivated, enduring, and have a daily work pace that will encourage you in surmounting the language's difficulties.
To learn Arabic means to interiorize a whole new language. And for some people the difficulties outweigh the benefits of learning Arabic, but if you keep battling you will see the rewards.
So why not evaluate your ambitions: would you like to become fluent in written or spoken Arabic, become bilingual, or simply master the language's elementary notions?
Here are the best methods in which to learn new Arabic words (nouns, adjectives, verbs, pronouns etc) in the best conditions. Whether it's basic Arabic you're after, or a specific dialect from the Middle East or North Africa, we've got you covered foreign language learner!
What Are the Different Ways to Learn Arabic?
Learning a foreign language is often seen as easy, sometimes even fun. But learning Arabic places you directly behind the barrier of the Arabic alphabet, which is totally different to our modern Latin alphabet.
Here is a list of possible difficulties you may encounter when trying to learn the language as a native English speaker:
- The alphabet: 112 written forms to memorize completely which correspond to 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet (initial, isolated, and medial form)
- The guttural consonantal system of the Arabic language: many consonants require mouth gymnastics in order not to change the meaning of Arabic words and speak with good pronunciation
- Time: an English or French person apparently requires 2200 hours before he or she starts to speak Arabic well, whereas a latin language only requires 600 hours
- The invisibility of vowels: Arabic is a language with Semitic roots, that is to say roots that are lexical and use only consonants.
A Semitic root often contains three consonants. They are named abjads, which is why the vowels are not always written down.
For example, from the root k-t-b = to write, one can form words such as kataba = book, kātib = writer, maktaba = library, miktāb = typewriter, yaktubu = he writes.
So given the potential difficulties in learning Arabic, it is essential to find the option that is best for you. On the bright side, there are a number of different ways to learn Arabic for you to choose from so learning doesn't need to be over complicated in that sense.
It's best to start with Classical Arabic, which is understood through the entire Arab world, including Morocco, Iraq, and Egypt. It is a linguistic common ground. However, Moroccan Arabic, called Darija, is different from Egyptian Arabic, which in turn is different from Iraqi Arabic, or that of Lebanon or Saudi Arabia.
For this reason, it is perhaps a good idea to learn the Arabic dialect hailing from the country where you will spend the most time, or the community to which you will be most exposed to.
Superprof has compiled a list of Arabic teaching methods which could be useful for you:
- Assimil Method
- Arabic language degrees in a university or college
- An immersive trip to an Arabic country in order to speak with native speakers
- Arabic tutoring at home
- The autodidact method, which consists of reading the news, speaking to Arabic friends, and taking free classes online
Find an Arabic course London with Superprof.
Books Teaching the Arabic Language
Phonetics, vocabulary, and grammar constitute the keys of any Arabic language program.
When a student starts to venture to speak Arabic in a beginner's class, books are an amazing tool, even today when everything is digital. This is because learning Arabic means having to make an effort to memorize the Arabic alphabet.
This can be done using Arabic books. They allow you to memorize Arabic graphemes and to understand how to use accents, which are crucial for pronouncing newly learned Arabic words correctly.
With books, you can:
- learn lists of words separated thematically (daily life, travels, asking for the time, destinations, products, etc...)
- idiomatic expressions that will allow you to have simple conversations in Arabic
- learn a thousand vocabulary words that are used everyday in Arabic speaking countries, and will allow you to understand 80% of conversations
- learn grammar, which will require practice with native Arabic speakers
Let's see which Arabic books can teach you Arabic words and grammar:
Kallimni 'Arabi Bishweesh: A Beginners Course in Spoken Egyptian Arabic 1, very good for beginners who are interested in Egypt; it also comes with an audio CD if you'd like to listen to it in your car on your way to work or the gym. It also comes in Intermediate and Advanced, so you can stick with the same author and method along your language learning adventure!
'Arabi Liblib: Egyptian Colloquial Arabic for the Advanced Learner. 1: Adjectives and Descriptions, another Egyptian dialect favorite, this time with a very colloquial approach to vocabulary, which makes it fun to learn!
Living Language Arabic, Complete Edition: From beginners all the way through to advanced, including 3 coursebooks, 9 audio CDs, Arabic script guide, and free online learning, another language book with very effective learning, and a CD to guide you through some of its most fundamental language lessons.
Arabic-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary (DK Visual Dictionaries), if you are a visual student, this is for you. The pictures will make it easy to memorize words.
- Arabic for Dummies: a Beginner's guide to Arabic, for those students who would like to get a move on with their language skills.
Let's Talk Arabic: Second edition (Arabic Edition)
Books are great, but they cost a bit of money, especially if you are not a library card holder at your local library. You can also learn Arabic for free online.
Pop quiz! Let's see if you were paying attention: how do you say "library" in Arabic?
Which Websites Offer Free Arabic Learning
Ever since the arrival of Y2K and the digital revolution, the internet has been a goldmine for finding language learning tools.
There are some good language learning websites out there. On the internet, "anything goes."
Muster up your strength: get motivated, become serious, and put all of your talents to good use. You will face the adversities of learning a new language alone, as no professor will be there to help or guide you.
The evolution of the internet has allowed Arabic language courses to become more interactive. Students can now participate in the class from the comfort of their homes.
They can give their professor advice, a rating, or comment on the quality of the class.
The last convenient aspect of an online arabic course is that you can learn the language from anywhere in the world, so long as you have an internet connection.
So, here are some websites that could help you with your language adventure:
- Polyglot Club
All these websites have something in common: their dedication to teaching the Arabic language and transmitting their knowledge to language students around the globe, as well as carrying basic introductions to Arabic, and courses designed to teach you how to read and write Arabic, as well as progress in grammar (such as personal pronouns and possessive pronouns) and oral expression.
They are for children and adults alike. They are straight to the point, interactive, and allow students to learn for free, sometimes in a quick manner, and without any time constraint.
You can also find websites full of resources which you can use to complement private language classes, or classes at a language school.
Don't like being glued to your computer?
Why not sign up for a class at a local language learning center?
Where to Learn Arabic in the United States
We've already mentioned the positives of learning this age-old language.
And yet, Arabic is never the shining star of educational language programs.
In 2014, the Modern Language Association (MLA) declared that foreign language study is rising in the US, with enrolment in language courses at colleges and universities growing 12.9% from 2002 to 2006 and another 6.6% from 2006 to 2009. However, Arabic is still not students' first choice when choosing a second language in school.
When Arabic is taught, it is most often at home with a private tutor, or in a private language institute, or even at some cultural organizations.
With a regular exchange between the teacher and student, Arabic home tutoring is perhaps the most effective way to learn the Arabic language.
You will find loads of options for taking Arabic classes in the city.
In fact, Superprof puts students and Arabic language tutors in contact in cities all over the United States: New York City, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, and Austin, just to name a few.
You will have to find a tutor who you get along with, and the classes will be less costly than in an institute. A one-hour tutoring session is an intense and concentrated dose of language learning: during one hour the tutor and the student will exchange in Arabic, work on pronunciation, vocabulary, and Arabic grammar. It is a great way to progress quickly.
Here are some institutes where you may be able to find an Arabic language course in the U.S.A:
- Inlingua in Miami
- The Pacific Arabic Language Center in San Francisco
- The United Nations Language Program in NYC
When people mention learning a new language, you often hear: "traveling is key." It is key! Get on a plane and go to an Arabic-speaking country such as Jordan or Egypt for real immersive language training.
Where to Learn Arabic Across the World
From a cultural, economic, and pedagogical standpoint, learning the Arabic language is a very enriching activity.
Learning Arabic fast is something that everyone wants to do. But to do this efficiently, you need to be clear about your goals so that you can choose the method appropriate for you.
By taking a linguistic trip, you will learn the dialect of your destination. It is therefore best to start with classical Arabic or standard modern Arabic.
If it's to improve your Islamic education, you will need to start by learning to read the Quran.
And, in all this, know that there are five dialectic families in Arabic: Gulf Arabic, Levant Arabic, Mesopotamian Arabic, North African Arabic, and Egyptian Arabic!
It's up to you to decide then, and it will depend on the place you would like to visit in order to learn Arabic abroad:
- The 3 Cs Training Centre: in Sfax, the second biggest city in Tunisia
- Iqraa Language Center: a foreign school with a great reputation in Dubaï, U.E.A
- Arabic Language Center
- European Cultural Center of Languages (ou Euroccl): in Amman in Jordan, this school specializes in teaching foreign students.
- Ali Baba International Center: also situated in Amman, Jordan
- Arabeya Arabic Language Institute: in Cairo, Egypt
- Ahlan Arabic Centre: also in Cairo, Egypt
- The Cultural Center for Languages and Training (CCLT): in Rabat, Morocco
- Moroccan Center for Arabic Studies (MCAS): also in Rabat, Morocco
- Istanbul Business Center (IBC): in Istanbul, Turkey
And, finally, you might want to contact ESL and see whether there is an international school teaching the Arabic language. You could travel to Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, or even the U.A.E.!