With over 300 million native speakers, Arabic is among the five most spoken languages in the world. Learning another language is a truly rewarding experience and can open doors to a whole new world. However, the truth is that it always requires some effort.
Let me guide you on why learning Arabic is worth the effort and what’s the best way to learn Arabic. Below I’ve compiled 6 actionable tips that will really help you to learn Arabic.
#1 Decide on a Dialect
Dialects and varieties are quite common in a language. With a particularly rich history and culture and many countries spread over several continents, it’s no surprise that the Arabic language has over 30 modern varieties!
The variety that is taught in most textbooks, online language courses and apps is Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Modern Standard Arabic is typically used in media, literature, political speeches and other academic and formal situations. It’s also used in most written documents.
However, most countries have their own variety of Arabic. Some of these regional dialects are close to Modern Standard Arabic, such as most Levantine varieties (Lebanese Arabic, Jordanian Arabic, Syrian Arabic…). Others completely different from MSA, such as the Maghrebi dialects (e.g. Moroccan Arabic).
#2 Define Your Motivation
There are many reasons to learn Arabic! But what’s your reason? Why are you interested in learning Arabic? Although it might sound trivial, knowing your motivation is actually crucial!
First of all, the type of vocabulary, grammar and level you should acquire largely depends on the context you’ll be using Arabic. Are you moving to an Arabic speaking country for your job or building business relationships? In that case you’ll need a whole different type of vocabulary and grammar skills than you’d need if you only intend to get along in daily life situations such as going to the grocery store. Or if you’d like to impress your Arabic boyfriend/girlfriend and your future in-laws (who knows).
Secondly, learning a language is an ongoing process. At least, if you’d really like to become fluent in Arabic. Naturally, you’ll have motivational peaks where you’ll feel like studying an entire weekend. However, there will surely also be moments where you’ll feel too tired after a busy day/week. Knowing your motivation for why you’d like to learn Arabic will help you to carry on your motivation and lowers the likelihood that you’d quit.
#3 Be Consistent
Studies show that when learning a new language, it’s more efficient to study more frequently but for shorter periods of time. In other words, studying 4 times a week for 30 minutes is likely to be more efficient than studying once a week for 2 hours.
That being said, try your best to be consistent in your schedule. Whether you decide to study twice a week for one hour or every day for 10 minutes – decide on what fits your schedule and stick to it. What you should avoid is to study very intensively for one week, and then doing nothing for a month. Especially if you’re at a beginner’s level, repetition is key to memorizing new words and grammar rules . Not using them will make you likely to forget them.
Many people start their language learning journey by asking how long does it take to learn Arabic? Well, my honest answer to this question is: it entirely depends on you! If you’re keen on learning Arabic quickly, you need to invest more time and energy of course. Completely plunging into the Arabic language and culture will make your learning much quicker than occasional studying.
Carry on reading for more tips on how to practice speaking Arabic.
#4 Practice Speaking Arabic
Why would you like to learn Arabic? To understand others and make yourself understood, am I right? It doesn’t make sense to stick to your books and learn grammar rules and vocabulary without putting them into practice.
Therefore, try to speak Arabic whenever you can. If you don’t live in an Arabic speaking country (yet), you might find it difficult to integrate speaking practice into your daily life. However, there are multiple possibilities to integrate a foreign language into your daily life. Yes, even if you live in the US, the UK (or anywhere else outside the Arab world).
These are my tips for practicing to speak Arabic. Many of them will not only help you speak but also improve your listening skills and overall language command. When you speak to others, you can’t always anticipate what their answer will be, or what they might be asking you.
- Go shopping in an Arabic grocery store. You’ll find them in many cities around the world. If you don’t feel very confident yet to have an entire conversation, start by using common Arabic greetings (such as hello and goodbye), or just say thank you in Arabic. Besides, if you’re already in the grocery store, how about trying some Arabic recipes to immerse yourself in the culture?
- Do you have an Arabic friend or colleague? Don’t hesitate to make some small talk in Arabic! Trust me, even if you can just say a few things like how are you in Arabic, most people will feel really happy when you start speaking their language.
- If you don’t have any friends or colleagues to practice Arabic with, there are many alternative ways to work on your Arabic anyway. Which way is the best depends on your personal interests, and of course the context in which you’ll be using Arabic (personal vs. business). Check out some Arabic music videos on YouTube (subtitles will help you follow the lyrics). Watch some short videos on Facebook or watch a series or a movie in Arabic. The more you immerse in the Arabic language and culture, the more familiar you’ll get with the sound of the language. This will greatly help you to understand and speak Arabic.
#5 Focus on What Matters
Back in school studying English, I hated learning new words that seemed completely useless to me. While I was able to easily remember words that interest me, blindly learning a long list of vocab was just boring. I mean, why do you need to know a list of twenty different professions if you can’t introduce yourself properly?
Whether you study Arabic using a book, an app or a course, you are likely to encounter many new words and grammar rules in every new lesson. Don’t try to memorise long lists of words, but just focus on what matters to you. For example, when given a list of nationalities or professions, prioritize those that personally matter to you.
Don’t hesitate to move on to the next topic or lesson, even when you don’t (yet) master every detail of the present chapter. The same principle applies when you learn the Arabic alphabet. Study them progressively and always connect letters to words. For example, you might remember the letter ش by learning the word شكراً. This will make your learning more fun. Besides, it will also give you mnemonic aid to remember all 28 Arabic letters eventually.
#6 Involve Your Senses
Naturally, we easily remember things which we use frequently or which matter to us. This can be the receptionist’s phone extension or something a special person said in a specific moment.
Apply the same principle when studying Arabic. Try to connect words with pictures or places that you love to visit. Visualize yourself traveling when learning new words related to traveling (plane, airport, suitcase…). Repeat the names of vegetables while preparing food at home.
By the way, that’s also a great way to put into practice what you’ve already learnt. Don’t hesitate to use your senses and your creativity when learning Arabic. You’ll be surprised how fun, fast and efficient your language learning can become by following these few simple tricks.
Are you currently studying Arabic? I’d love to hear from you! Don’t hesitate to share your experiences and tips that you might find useful with me on Instagram @welcome2jordan.blog.