Learning any second language may seem difficult for many people. But it gains a whole new level of difficulty when you have to learn an entirely new language with completely new alphabets. When native English or Chinese speakers decide to learn one another’s language, they face multiple difficulties due to the change in alphabets, sounds, pronunciations and grammar. If you want to start now to learn the Arabic language, you are lucky because many Arabic courses for Beginners are nowadays available.
You will be amazed to know that there are more than 300 million native Arabic speakers worldwide. Also, in Arabic, there are 100 different ways to describe the word “camel”. After listening to this, you might find the Arabic language a tough language. But fret not!
If you are a native speaker of any language and have decided to learn Arabic (the Muslim world’s sacred language), you might find it difficult to learn methods of reading, writing, and speaking the Arabic language. But with passing the time, unwavering patience and dedication to learn Arabic can solve your problem in about two to three months.
In this article, we have enlisted some basic steps for beginners to learn Arabic with more ease.
The Arabic language is spoken worldwide by more than 420 million speakers. It is the Holy Quran’s language and the official language of more than 25 countries, ranging from Africa to Asia, making it the fifth most spoken language globally. There are at least 30 different dialects of the Arabic language spoken all over Saudi Arabia.
Arabic is also one of the official six languages of the United Nations and the Muslim world’s lingua franca. It belongs to the Semitic family of languages. It has a unique way of constructing words using a root system, where a pattern of letters like ‘k-t-b’ is the foundation for words that are semantically related to the writing field. For example, ‘kitaab’ refers to ‘a book’, and ‘maktab’ means ‘a desk/office’.
One of the major differences between Arabic and other languages is that it is written from right to left, whereas most languages are written from left to right. Also, some of the Arabic language sounds are unfamiliar to the natives of other languages.
Most people who want to learn the Arabic language are Muslims who want to understand and speak the Holy Quran’s language. But as the business, academic, and economic world is growing in the Arabian region, the language learning market is also flourishing with more people eager to learn Arabic.
Now without further ado, let’s look into the problems that beginners commonly face.
Difficulties Faced by Beginners Arabic Learners
When learning a new language, there are different ways you can use it to become fluent. When the new language you’re trying to learn has no root connection to your native language, it becomes even more difficult for you to understand. Due to the different alphabets and ways of writing, it seems like gibberish on paper to you.
Some of the difficulties faced by native speakers of English, Chinese or any other language when beginning to learn Arabic include:
- Dialect– The alphabets used in the Arabic dialect are entirely different and new.
- Tone- In Arabic, expressing yourself depends solely on what tone you use; it is extremely inflectional language.
- Forms of Verb- There are ten different patterns for using verbs in Arabic. Beginners are required to memorize the vocalization and conjugations to understand and communicate in active or passive voices.
- No Shared Vocabularies– Every word that native English speakers hear from Arabic is new because there are no-shared vocabularies between Latin-based languages and Arabic. Vocabulary might create some difficulties for Indo-European people because their language is similar to English, whereas Arabic is similar to Hebrew and Aramaic that belong to the Semitic family.
- Arabic Alphabets– Unlike Chinese, which is derived from the characters, Arabic has a set of alphabets that makes it easier to understand.
- Lack of Vowels- Another difficulty that beginners face is the lack of vowels in the Arabic language and the use of never-before existing sounds.
- Grammar- Grammar is also challenging because you have to learn to use the verbs before the subject in a sentence and learn the dual forms of a word instead of just a singular and plural form.
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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.
Despite all of these difficulties, Arabic is a beautiful language worth learning. Follow these steps to start learning the Arabic language and become fluent:
Steps You Should Follow to Learn Arabic
To study, speak, write, read and converse fluently in Arabic, beginners must follow some basic rules to overcome the difficulties mentioned above:
· Select A Dialect First
Out of the 30 different dialects of the Arabic language, you must select one of them to start the Arabic language learning process. These dialects vary in accents, pronunciation and sound completely different when you hear them from the Asian region to the African region. The difference in the dialect occurred through the years of speaking in different regions. They have mixed their language with the local languages, and new words, pronunciations, and grammar emerged in the main language, differentiating it from the other regions.
If you intend to stay in one part of the country, then learning the dialect of that specific region would be best because Arabic dialects vary from region to region. One of the most common and widespread dialects of the Arabic language is Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. It is the most common and mainly used in television dramas and movies. However, it is highly recommended for non-native students to learn Modern Standard Arabic, which is the official language of more than 22 Arab countries and is considered one of the United Nations’ official languages.
· Start with the Basics
Learning always takes time and patience. You cannot perform well without learning the basics, jumping to the higher level, and preceding the easy stuff. An English native speaker or any person who speaks a completely different alphabetic language would know that skipping the basics would lead to downfall. This is because learning the basic rules and regulations about a language helps you learn and understand how to form words and sentences when conversing with someone.
Learning Arabic is like learning any other language. When we first studied English or your native language, our teachers first taught us the alphabets and then used those alphabets to form words and then sentences. After learning the basics, we move towards the hard parts like proper pronunciation and grammar.
Similarly, in Arabic, you will have to learn the basics, the alphabets and the base root system before going towards sentences and conversation topics. If you take shortcuts to learn any language quicker, it will only slow you down, and in the end, you won’t be able to speak, write or converse as fluently as you would have wanted.
Ever heard the saying, “Practice Makes Perfect”?
Well, it applies perfectly here. To learn a language, you must practice. First of all, choose a study plan. If you are a beginner, choose to study the basic Arabic language program to grasp the fundamental principles, unique alphabets, words, and then sentence formation.
And if you know a little about that language, you should go for the intermediate program before moving towards the advanced program. The intermediate program teaches you the proper grammar and goes towards the harder specifics in the language. Another way of learning Arabic is to use online applications, YouTube channels, television programs, movies, with Arabic subtitles to understand the language more.
Watching television shows and movies in Arabic or with Arabic subtitles would also improve your pronunciation and grammar. It will also improve your capability of understanding the language spoken at any pace. Do not forget the mantra of becoming fluent in Arabic, ‘Practice, Practice, and Practice!’
· Take Help from Arabic Dictionary
One of the basic steps you should take is learning how to use an Arabic dictionary to learn Arabic. It is a bit difficult as it differs vastly from the English dictionary.
In the English dictionary, the words are arranged in alphabetical order throughout the dictionary. However, in the Arabic dictionary, the words are organized around three-letter roots. To find a word, you must know the root of the word and what letter the root starts with, which might not be the first letter of the word.
Learning how to use the dictionary is a difficult and time-consuming process. Nevertheless, when you learn to use it properly, the process becomes quite enjoyable, and learning Arabic would become easier.
· Memorize Everyday Phrases
When it comes to native Arabic speakers, they use some common phrases in their everyday lives. Memorizing the commonly used phrases would help you in conversing with the native speakers fluently. The Arabs use countless phrases in their daily language to make a conversation out of only using them. The idioms, expressions and phrases are easy to learn and remember in Arabic because they mostly rhyme in other dialects.
· Speaking Now!
When you learn how to read Arabic, then speaking becomes easier. But to speak proficiently needs time and effort. Remember that making mistakes is a part of learning, so when you learn a language, try to speak it as often as possible without fearing mispronunciation. You can also help yourself by watching Arabic television shows.
Another way to improve your Arabic speaking skills is to converse with native speakers. It isn’t easy to talk to people if you are learning the language in your own country where other people do not know the language.
However, there are now various ways to communicate with teachers and friends worldwide using the internet. Finding online study groups, tutors, and coaches can also help you improve your Arabic speaking skills. By taking advantage of these resources, you can practice more and learn faster.
· Never Stop Learning!
Learning the basic of the Arabic language can be accomplished within a few days or weeks, but staying persistent and learning the language to the advanced level and becoming proficient in it requires a great deal of time, patience, and effort.
The beginning of a journey is always the easiest part, but to see it through till the end is what requires patience, and as an outcome, it brings back fruitful results.
· Setting Goals
Learning the Arabic language and becoming fluent in it is a long time-consuming process. To achieve it, you must set goals and take-out time from your everyday schedule to practice Arabic. To achieve articulation in the Arabic language, set goals for every day, including reading a book or poem in Arabic, conversing with a native Arabian, or watching a movie. When you pick an activity, and you complete it, then pick another. This way, learning becomes easier, and you gain fluency in the language day by day.
Learning and becoming fluent in a new language is a big commitment, where you need to plunge in headfirst and give it all the zeal and effort you have and strive towards success. The more you practice speaking and listening to the Arabic language, the more fluent you become.
The Al Madina Center offers three months of intensive courses to learn the Arabic language for non-Arabic speakers in its institute in Medina, Saudi Arabia. If you would like to join our intensive course, please contact us.