Arabic is considered one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn and requires the most time and commitment from students who really want to master it. You can imagine how many mistakes you can make while learning Arabic!
If you’re willing to put in many hours and effort into learning Arabic, you certainly don’t want to waste time falling into common pitfalls for beginners!
In this article, we’ll walk you through the mistakes to avoid when deciding to learn Arabic as a beginner. This will give you a huge advantage over other students.
1 / Not knowing the difference between classical Arabic and spoken Arabic
Unlike other languages like English or German, you usually learn more than one language when you learn Arabic.
Classical Arabic is the written form of the language, and this style is rarely used in everyday speech.
Spoken Arabic, on the other hand, should be used in regular verbal interactions. So make the difference between spoken and written Arabic.
2 / not knowing your final goal
Not setting an end goal when you start to learn Arabic can hinder the learning process. Indeed, if you decide to “just learn Arabic”, you will not have a defined course, and you will be more likely to get lost in your learning.
If complete fluency is your goal, you should focus on Classical Arabic and Spoken Arabic. However, if you plan to use Arabic for academic or religious purposes only, you can focus your Classical Arabic attention.
Likewise, if you only plan to use it to do business or speak in a country where Arabic is the national language, mastering spoken Arabic should be your goal.
3 / Not having an Arabic teacher
by being self-taught, Arabic is not one. Many students make a big mistake because they believe that they can first learn Arabic independently and then use it and practice it afterwards.
Unfortunately, the delicate Arabic pronunciation makes this method of learning completely unnecessary. You need to find a qualified instructor who can point you in the right direction and help you develop those hard-to-learn oral skills independently.
For you: 7 tips to learn Arabic easily
4 / Not practising Arabic every day
The different possible pronunciations of the Arabic language are among the main reasons that make it so difficult to learn. Many Arabic words are pronounced to have a throaty (or guttural) return.
This is very difficult for many learners, as Latin languages rarely use the throat for pronunciation. Spend at least 15 minutes a day speaking aloud in Arabic. This will help your tongue and throat get used to the pronunciation. And, of course, find someone (preferably a native speaker) who can correct your speech and help you improve it.
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The al Madina Center for Arabic is the first language school specializing in teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers, based in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
5 / Not having realistic goals
It is important to be realistic when setting goals in your Arabic language learning journey. It is, after all, a language that will take you at least hundreds of hours or more to master.
Without taking into account the different dialects, you will have to learn to communicate in Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Syria! Your language teacher can also help you set realistic goals, whether that’s chatting with you for 15 minutes a day or helping you learn 10 new vocabulary words per week or per day.
Setting realistic goals will help you feel like you’re accomplishing something and making progress, unlike unrealistic goals and will make you feel frustrated or blocked while learning the Arabic language.
6 / Do not approach Arabic differently from other languages
Many students make the mistake of approaching learning Arabic in the same way as other “easier” languages, such as German or Spanish. They expect to progress at the same rate as they would with these other languages and will end up being demotivated, disappointed in themselves, or, even worse, giving up learning Arabic altogether.
Approach the Arabic language carefully, realize that it will take you longer to complete your learning with this language than with others, and above all, learn to be patient and understanding with yourself. Committing to learning a new language already makes you a winner!
7 / be afraid of embarrassment
Many students are comfortable reading and writing in a foreign language, but many are afraid when it comes to speaking. No matter how much confidence you normally have in yourself, this almost irrational fear of looking stupid or ridiculous in front of others affects everyone.
But be brave because you are not alone. Even a man as charismatic as Barack Obama freezes at the thought of speaking in a foreign language. Face your fears. Stop imagining in your head the worst possible scenario, and take the plunge.
So don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because mistakes can be better. Making mistakes is not only the best way to improve our fluency in a foreign language, but it can also be a great way to break the ice between you and your foreign contact, for example.
Learn to laugh at and own up to your mistakes. In this way, your mistakes become a way for you to keep talking better. Plus, it goes without saying that the more you talk, the faster you will learn. So if you still don’t have the confidence to speak in public right away, be sure to talk as much as you can in class, at home, or with anyone you feel comfortable with. Comfortable to talk.
8 / don’t make a big deal out of it
If you think learning Arabic is a monumental task, you have to change your outlook. It does take a lot of work, but you don’t have to work hard to achieve your record time goals. Remember that learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint.
Obviously, there are ways to speed up your learning depending on need and budget, but not everyone is lucky enough to have the time or money to travel abroad or take crash courses.
So take your time, consolidate the basics of the language like the alphabet, and go slowly but surely.
9 / Not being open to the culture around the language
If you learn a language with a closed mind, this will reflect as you learn and progress. The idea is not only to learn the Arabic language but to live it! Be open to discovering and experiencing different cultures. If you are not ready to try new foods and celebrate others’ customs, you will not get the best part of learning this foreign language. You are much more likely to learn faster when you feel motivated to do so, and the more involved you are in the language you are learning, the better. For example, if you are in Morocco, try to eat the dishes traditionally, also inform yourself about the different festivals and customs of the countries you want to visit. Who knows? You might even enjoy this unique experience!
10 / Overestimate the power of immersion
I personally know many people who have fallen into this trap… They thought that by going to live a few months or even a year in a foreign country, they would come back with the language of the country mastered. Unfortunately, you still have to work very hard, even if you decide to live in an Arabic-speaking country for several months.
You should study, practice your conversation, and do your best to speak Arabic whenever you can. Abroad, expats like to get together. And that means you’re going to make a bunch of amazing, multicultural friends. But it also means that you will be speaking a lot in English if you are not careful. So choose your destination for your “immersion” wisely.
Don’t just group with francophones. However, try to remember to make local friends too. Try to meet someone who speaks the local Arabic dialect. Not only is it one of the fastest ways to learn this country’s dialect, but it’s also one of the most fun!
The Al Madina Center offers three months of intensive courses to learn Arabic for non-Arabic speakers in its institute in Medina, Saudi Arabia. If you would like to join our intensive course, please contact us.