If you’ve decided to embark on this journey, you probably already know that Arabic is one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn. It’s also one of the top five most-spoken languages globally, so its practicality is worth the challenge in our opinion.
The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters and words are read from right to left, without vowels. Many Arabic sounds don’t exist in English, adding more difficulty, and sentence structure differs in that verbs come before subjects.
Here are a few tips that will help you as you get started with Arabic.
Decide which form of Arabic you want to learn
There are many regional Arabic varieties, so the language can differ drastically from place to place. If you’re learning with a specific goal in mind, like traveling to a certain place or trying to learn to communicate with friends or relatives, you should incorporate that particular dialect into your study.
If you don’t have a goal like this in mind and just have an interest in the language, you can start with Modern Standard Arabic, but it’s not really recommended. It’s considered to be a bit archaic and will make it harder for you to understand spoken Arabic.
Learn the alphabet
It will seem intimidating at first, but this is how you’ll build the foundation of the language. Check out this Arabic alphabet made easy video to get started.
Learn how to use an Arabic dictionary
There’s a bit of a learning curve here because Arabic dictionaries don’t list words alphabetically. Sounds crazy, we know. Instead, they’re organized by their root, or in “word families.”
Lingualism.com explains, “Words in Arabic are built by using usually three (and sometimes four) radicals, which are consonants to which patterns of vowels and other consonants are added to create words. Again, as your Arabic progresses, it will become easier to determine which three consonants are the radicals that make up the root of a word. Once you do find the root, you will look up these three (or four) consonants in the dictionary, in alphabetical order, to find its word family. For example, you see the word مكتب and recognize that مـ is a common prefix and that the remaining three consonants must be its root. So you look up ك ت ب.”
It takes a bit of practice, but the more familiar you get with the language, the easier it will become.
Learn some common words and phrases
Memorize frequently used words and phrases to make conversation easier. ArabicPod101 has a list of great examples here. Depending on your reason for learning, you’ll want to incorporate words and phrases that pertain to conversations you might be having, for example, if you’re learning for work.
Start reading short stories
Once you’re more familiar with the alphabet, work on your comprehension skills by seeking out short pieces of content that’s a bit easier to understand. You can start with these short stories and cartoons. Stories for children are also a great resource when you’re just beginning to learn a new language.
Seek out opportunities to practice speaking
We know this is the scariest part when you’re learning a new language, but it really is essential to growing your skills. Are there family members or friends you can practice with? Or conversation meetup groups near you? Consider working one-on-one with a tutor who focuses most of your lessons on conversational skills.
Incorporate Arabic into your daily life as much as possible
The best way to develop language skills quickly is through immersion. Our native resource guide has recommendations for Arabic music, TV shows, and podcasts so you can incorporate the language into your day-to-day life. And for more dedicated studying time, check out the other Arabic learning resources we have. Of course, it’s best if you focus on content in the specific dialect you’re learning.
Use these tips to get started with Arabic and you’ll be conversational before you know it. Let us know how you do!