Many people are wondering what they should expect if they start to learn Arabic. How important is it? How hard or easy is it? Whether it has different rules from English (concerning Arabic Grammar, Arabic Vocabulary...)
First let's illustrate how important Arabic is today. Arabic is spoken throughout the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania, and Chad. It is the mother tongue of over 225 million people in Africa and Asia. Since the Qur'an is written in Arabic, people in other Muslim countries have at least some basic knowledge of Arabic like in Indonesia (largest Muslim population), Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Turkey.
Arabic is like any other language, easy in some aspects and hard in some others. It depends on the learner's background and ability to adapt to new rules. A person whose mother tongue is Hebrew will find it easier than a person whose mother tongue is Spanish or English because of the similarities. Also, a person who speaks more than one language is more likely to learn it easier, because his/her brain is already trained to deal with more than one language and adapt with new rules, new vocabulary, etc.
Arabic has 28 consonantal phonemes (including two semi-vowels). Arabic is different than English when it comes to the way it's written (right to left) and some sounds don't exist in English like the glottal stop, usually transliterated by (') like in the word 'elm (science). Also the consonants (q) and (gh) are the sounds produced the farthest back in the mouth in English (called 'velars' because the tongue touches the soft palate or velum), like in qalam (pen), and loghah (language). (kh) which sounds like the Scottish ch as in (Loch Ness lake).
Like many other languages, Arabic has a different grammar than English. That doesn't make it hard, only distinctive. Some grammatical rules are easier than the ones existing in English. All you need is patience and practice! Here, you can learn Arabic free of charge!
How to Learn Arabic
Many people wonder if there is a way or method that could help them learn Arabic, this website includes a lot of resources but without a good learning strategy a person could be lost. So I will try to point out to some important ways to start learning Arabic, however a person should rely on ones creativity based on each person’s needs because not everyone is interested in the same thing, some want to focus on writing or reading Arabic, some would like to focus on speaking and pronunciation. I will start with methods taking into consideration the general needs of most people based on learning Arabic as a whole (reading, writing, speaking...).
An obvious good start is to learn the Arabic Alphabet this page will help you not only to learn how to pronounce the letters but also how to write them. Also check the Arabic Vowels since it’s related to the alphabet too. Once you’re familiar with the Arabic letters you can check out the Phrases in Arabic, that will give you an idea about some expressions that are used daily, try to use some of those expressions and also memorize them, like “thank you – shokran”, “my name is … esmee …”. Memorizing words can be very useful, because that’s basically the raw material of the language, without them you can’t even start, so it would be a good idea to make a list of your favorite words that you want to memorize for example 200 words, you can go and choose them from the following pages: Food and House (like apple, bread …), Animals (cat, dog …), Adjectives (white, green …), Body Parts (face, cheek …), Occupations & School (engineer, book…), Places & Sports (Morocco, beach …), Time & Weather (Sunny, everyday …), Verbs in their infinitive form. You will certainly be able to make a list of 200 favorite words from these pages.
Once you memorize them you will be able to use them when necessary, however you may also need to know the Arabic grammar, because that will make it easier for you to use the words in the correct form and in the correct place, to be able to do that you need to check out the Articles, also the Arabic Numbers, how to use Adjectives, list of Prepositions, and Pronouns list, how to conjugate Verbs, how to use the Feminine and Plural … You can also check how names are translated into Arabic. Grammar is what gives life to vocabulary; it helps you play with the words you already memorized so please don’t over look it.
You will find other resources not mentioned here in the main page that will also help you with your learning, please not that I don’t have audio files on the website yet, since the bandwidth is limited and having audio files could make the website exceed its bandwidth limit and shut down. I will try to work out a way to add audio files in the future. Good luck!
3 Tips for Learning Arabic
The idea of learning Arabic can be overwhelming – after all, how are you supposed to make sense of all those squiggly little letters? If you’re struggling to get started, consider the following tips on learning Arabic.
Learning Arabic isn’t something you can do easily or overnight – it takes time, dedication, and a desire to learn to succeed with this difficult language. While there are many people that learn Arabic more quickly than others, you’ll want to work at your own pace. If you attempt to rush through your Arabic instruction, you simply will not be able to comprehend this language.
Here are three tips to help you learn Arabic:
- Use a systematic curriculum. One of the best ways to learn Arabic is to study the language through a structured, systematic curriculum. You can find many of these courses in learning Arabic online or in your local bookstore. Online courses are a great option, as they offer you the scheduling versatility that many people with busy lives need. Other offline courses may offer CDs that you can use while traveling your car, while others come with textbooks and exercises to help you learn. Still others come with flashcards and learning tools that work for everyone – from children to adults. These are all terrific ways to learn Arabic, especially when combined together. In addition, most community colleges and community enrichment programs offer classes that you can attend with other students, which can be a great way for you to practice your accent and pronunciation. However, you may also find that you do better with a tutor for one-on-one instruction – especially if you feel nervous or shy practicing Arabic in front of other people.
- Immersion into the Arabic culture. Many people feel this is the best way to learn the Arabic language, since students who learn via immersion are surrounded by the language on a daily basis. This is also a good way to learn some of the slang phrases and expressions that are common in any language – you can bet you won’t find all of these in an at-home CD study guide!
While immersion isn’t for everyone, it can be a terrific learning experience for those yearning to learn about the culture, as well as the language. If you plan on traveling to a country that speaks Arabic, you’ll be surprised how at quickly you pick up new phrases, just by listening to others speak.
- The most important tip for learning Arabic is to dedicate yourself to learning. Because Arabic is very different from English or the Romance Languages, you need to set aside time each day to study. Try to concentrate on learning two or three new Arabic words daily, and work on pronouns at first because there are many variables to these words. You’ll also need to practice writing out the Arabic alphabet. Learning to read Arabic script can be difficult, since you’ll need to train yourself to read from right to left and to pick out changing shapes from the cursive script. There are also many letters in the Arabic language that look very similar to each other, adding to your confusion. However, if you dedicate yourself to learning a few letters each day, you’ll find that your understanding of the written Arabic language comes together faster than you think.
Dialects and Variants of the Arabic language
As if learning standard Arabic wasn’t difficult enough, you may need to learn a separate dialect of the language if you plan to travel extensively in any one region. The following are some of the most common dialects and where you can expect to hear them used.
Different variants of the Arabic language are spoken in many different nations and regions around the world, most commonly throughout northern Africa and the Middle Eastern nations. However, in many areas, the differences in regional dialects may make one Arabic speaker nearly incomprehensible to another. In most cases, the different dialects don’t have a specific written form of the language, but there’s usually a certain amount of literature that accompanies each dialect, including poetry and plays. This is especially true for the dialects spoken in Egypt and Lebanon.
The following dialects are most commonly found in Arabic speech:
- Sudanese Arabic – Mostly spoken in the Sudan
- Levantine Arabic – This dialect is often heard in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and western Jordan
- Gulf Arabic – Mostly heard throughout the Gulf Coast from Kuwait to Oman
- Najdi Arabic – This dialect is most often heard in the desert and oasis areas of central Saudi Arabia
- Yemeni Arabic – This dialect is most common to Yemen
- Iraqi Arabic – The dialect most commonly spoken in Iraq
- Hijazi Arabic – This dialect is spoken in the area west of present-day Saudi Arabia, which is referred to as the Hejaz region.
- Egyptian Arabic – This is considered the most widely spoken and understood "second dialect." It’s mostly heard in Egypt
- Maghreb Arabic – Spoken mostly in Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, and western Libya
- Hassaniiya – Most often spoken in Mauritania
- Andalusi Arabic – This dialect of the Arabic language is now extinct, but it still holds an important place in literary history.
- Maltese – This form of Arabic dialect is most often found in Malta.
The most important factor in forming these individual dialects was the language originally spoken in the region. As Arabic-speaking people moved into various regions, aspects of the native language eventually became assimilated into Arabic speech patterns. New words were added to the language and, over the years, the pronunciation of words changed. Fortunately, although there are now a large number of dialects in the Arabic language, there is a common dialect understood by most people who speak Arabic.
The common dialect in Arabic language is called Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). This dialect is understood or spoken as a second dialect by more than 206 million Arabic-speaking people. MSA is spoken in most formal situations, such as radio broadcasts, lectures and sermons, since it is the most commonly understood Arabic dialect. This dialect has been chosen in most Middle Eastern countries as the first language of the country, or at least the second in cases where a specific dialect predominates.
Without the common dialect of MSA, it would be impossible for many nations to communicate. In some areas, even neighbors wouldn’t understand one another. Because the Arabic language has changed so much over the last few centuries, many scholars worry that the original form of Arabic is being lost in translation. For this reason, many organizations are dedicated to preserving the original form of Arabic seen in the Quran, even though this version isn’t used in everyday speech.
Learning to Read Arabic Script
One of the most daunting parts of learning the Arabic languages is understanding the complicated script form in which the language is written. Although it may feel difficult at first, stick with it – learning to read the script is one of the most important parts of becoming fluent in the language.
Learning to read Arabic script can be very confusing, since you must force yourself to read from right to left. In addition, Arabic is always written in cursive script and there are no upper case letters – which can make identifying different characters very difficult. And while there are only 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet, most of these letters have four different shapes, known as initial, isolated, medial, and final. The use of these variants is determined by where the letter is located in the word. As a final challenge, Arabic is considered to be a consonant alphabet – meaning that there are vowel sounds present when speaking or reading the words, even though there may not be a letter to represent them.
The following are some tips to help you learn to read the Arabic script:
1. Learn one set of letters at a time:
If you try to learn the entire alphabet at once, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll wind up feeling overwhelmed. Many of the letters look the same as others and it can be very confusing to try to learn them all at once. You’ll probably do much better and learn more quickly if you only study two or three Arabic letters each day. You’ll need to practice writing out each letter and its corresponding variants, and learn each sound that pertains to a letter. Many of these sounds are not present in the English language, which you may find challenging at first.
2. Learn the vowel signs.
In the Arabic language, there are only letters for long vowels, such as “a”, “i”, and “u”. Short sounding vowels are written as different marks above or below the consonant letters. Most of the time, these types of marks are found in certain religious tests and in instructional books for students and children studying Arabic. However, you will also find them in some regular text in order to avoid any confusion. These marks for the vowels will help show you how the Arabic vowel is to be pronounced.
3. Learn how to connect the letters by practicing your writing skills.
As mentioned earlier, Arabic letters are always written out in cursive, meaning that most of the letters will be connected. There are only six Arabic letters that have only two variants instead of four, and these letters aren’t connected to any letter after their use in a word. You’ll find that many of the Arabic letters will look different when connected to another letter than if they stand alone. Even if you’ve learned all the different forms of the letters, you’ll still have to practice to be able to write the words and letters correctly.
4. Learn to read Arabic letters.
When you learn to write Arabic letters, you’ll probably be able to read a small number of short words. However, you’ll need much more practice in order to read fluently. Begin with your text book, which will ensure that you understand and pronounce the words correctly. You also need to find examples of regular Arabic handwriting. This can be much harder to read than the nicely formed letters you will find in a book. Try looking online for examples of hand-written text, or seek out a native speaker who’s willing to help with your studies.