Deciding to tackle the challenge of learning the Arabic language is not something to jump into lightly, and it is often suggested that learning Arabic is difficult.
It’s therefore a good idea to think about things before you commit to learning a new language, and really consider whether you’re ready to commit weeks and months to your new goal.
The answer to the question “How long does it take to learn Arabic?” really depends on you, your levels of motivation, and your goals.
In order to succeed at your goal of learning Arabic, it is important to give yourself a clear and attainable goal, and that you commit to achieving it.
Even if you have plenty of motivation, you’ll need a bit more than that to tackle the complexities of Arabic grammar, spelling, and syntax.
If you just want to learn to speak Arabic, that will take much less time than if you also want to read and write the language. Just like learning any language, you’ll need to learn all the quirks of the Arabic language, including its script, grammar and turns of phrase.
Unfortunately, the Arabic alphabet doesn’t bear any resemblance to the one used in the Western World, and doesn’t have anything in common with our Latin alphabet.
And what’s more, each letter can change position in the words. Depending on the meaning it could be at the beginning, middle, or end of the word.
For beginners, the Arabic alphabet, its forms, and its script might all seem a bit disconcerting at first glance.
But did you know that Arabic has already heavily influenced Spanish, with at least 4000 words being of Arabic origin, thanks to the long Islamic occupation of the Iberian peninsula.
English also contains words borrowed from Arabic, although only about half that number, and usually borrowed from other intermediary languages first.
Learning Arabic can be hard and it will require a lot of dedication and regular study, just like any other language. If you want to learn Arabic quickly, you should know that it will still take several weeks, or really, months, to do so.
You definitely won’t be able to learn all of the vocabulary and syntax of Arabic by studying for just two hours a week.
In order to really learn how to read and write in Arabic, you’ll need to study almost every day, until your brain is completely immersed in Arabic culture.
Work on your Arabic vocabulary in order to improve!
The more you study, learn new words in Arabic and try them out, the more the language will eventually become second nature.
It’s estimated that in order to learn Arabic properly, it will take an English speaker at least 2200 hours of Arabic classes over 80 weeks – or rather, one and a half years of consistent language study.
Some people would argue that Arabic is just as hard to learn as Chinese or Korean. In contrast, in order to learn a language like French, you would only need 23 weeks of classes, or abut 500 to 600 hours of language classes.
If you want to know how much time it will take to learn Arabic perfectly, here are two questions to answer:
For your daily study, that will really depend on you, your motivation, personal commitment, desire to learn, and of course, how much free time you have to spend learning Arabic.
As for the second question, the answer depends a bit on your response to the first, but you should know that it’s almost impossible to learn Arabic in just a few weeks.
At best, you could gain a general sense of the language and pick up a few expressions in Arabic, but at worst you could completely miss the subtleties of the Arabic language and risk picking up tons of bad habits for spelling and syntax.
If you think about it, there’s probably plenty of time throughout the day that you could use to study Arabic.
Without going too far into it, have you considered listening to an audio lesson during your commute, whether on public transport or in the car, or whilst you are getting ready in the morning (don’t laugh, some people only take 30 minutes!). The time spent cooking meals or eating, or all the other free moments over the course of the day where your brain isn’t necessarily engaged are all opportunities than can be used to study Arabic.
And we haven’t even mentioned all the leisure time you might be spending watching TV, playing video games, or in front of the computer discussing issues in forums, etc.
Decide which type of Arabic you want to learn!
The most important thing is that you give yourself a set time to study Arabic every day. Whether it’s Arabic words, Arabic phrases or Arabic letters, as a beginner, every second of immersion in the Arabic language is invaluable.
We’d recommend generally 15 to 20 minutes every day in a calm and quiet environment without lots of music or background noise.
Why just 20 minutes a day? Because that’s about the amount of time that the human brain can spend really properly concentrating on something 100% without needing to take a break.
Obviously, nothing will stop you from studying Arabic more if you’re feeling motivated, but 20 minutes is a good minimum amount to keep improving your level of the language.
If you’ve been dealt a good hand, it’s easy to succeed at learning Arabic and for it to not take too long.
This means investing in some good tools and learning aids to help you learn Arabic the best way possible.
For the more traditional language learners, you can easily learn Arabic with books, videos, DVDs, and maybe a study trip while you study.
If you want to master Arabic quickly, this is the best way to do it.
If you can afford it, taking some time to actually study Arabic in a country in the Middle East or North Africa can really help you improve your language skills. There’s no one country that is best to go to, any country where Arabic is an official language will do so just decide if Lebanon, Egypt, or Morocco is most attractive to you.
Not only will you learn the local spoken Arabic dialect and all the hand and face gestures that accompany it, you’ll be able to pick up some more vocabulary and slang and will have immersed yourself in a national culture.
It’s up to you to decide which Arabic speaking country you want to go to, and with Arabic spoken in 23 countries, you have plenty of choice among places like Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabic, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, etc.
By speaking Arabic every day with locals from all different social classes, your level of Arabic will make huge strides.
There are special language institutes that you can go to for Arabic classes, or university classes where a professor who’s a native Arabic speaker teaches the language to students.
These kinds of classes can be a great way to deepen your knowledge of Arabic and do a bit of a health check of what you’ve learned so far.
These Arabic classes will generally follow the academic year and will follow a set curriculum that probably won’t allow for too much deviation.
However, you will have the benefit of a professional teacher for whom Arabic is a native language, and who is following a well known curriculum.
For those of you who don’t have any Arabic language institutes near you or don’t have the time to commit to a regular course, finding a private Arabic teacher could be a great solution.
According to what you’re looking for, an Arabic teacher could come to your home and evaluate your level in the language, your strengths, weaknesses and points of confusion.
Sign up for Arabic classes to succeed
Your private teacher will work with you to create a customized plan of study so that you can learn Arabic in the best way possible. Soon you’ll be able to chat away in Egyptian Arabic, or discuss the weather with any Arabic speaking person.
It can be a great advantage to have a teacher all to yourself – all of your questions about Arabic spelling, verbs, syntax, colloquial phrases, and grammar can be answered directly, and your Arabic pronunciation will improve greatly with a native speaker.
For the potential Arabic students who prefer to work at home or geeks who like to be surrounded by as many computer screens as possible, online Arabic classes can be a great way to learn the language.
Learn Arabic and have fun at the same time!
If you want to learn Arabic online, you must evaluate your choices carefully. Not all online Arabic courses are free, or necessarily follow a curriculum that will introduce you to basic Arabic, including the Arabic script and pronunciation, in an order that seems logical and will help you in your goal of fluency.
To make sure you’re getting the right kind of foundation in Arabic for beginners, finding a MOOC for Modern Standard Arabic on a website like Coursera might be a good place to start.
What’s more, you’ll be able to share your passion for learning Arabic with a whole online community for language learning.