Arabic is considered to be one of the most difficult languages to learn for native English speaker. This can be especially true when learners are studying on their own and without professional guidance from tutors or well structured course. Although everything is possible with the right motivation and well selected tools to study. Bellow you can find a few practical tips that can help you learn Arabic easier and faster.
1. Set Learning Goals.
Before stating to learn something new, it is important to identify the reasons why you want to do it. It could be that you want to travel to the country where the language spoken, you could want to communicate with someone speaking it, it is part of your identity or for other purposes. Knowing your reasons is useful, because it can give you additional motivation to continue when studying is hard.
Following this, you should write down your Arabic learning goals. It is advisable that in order for this tip to be beneficial, your set goals need to be SMART. What it means is that that they need specific, achievable, measurable, realistic and have time limit. One good example of SMART Arabic learning goal would be “I will learn 50 new words of Egyptian Arabic each week for one year”. A goal like “I will learn to read in Arabic” is not very concreate, hence it is not functional for your studying plan.
Once the goals are set, it is recommended to write them all down. Also from time to time, review them and if necessary make some adjustments. Things are not always going according to a plan, hence making changes is better than giving up your goals completely. And if it happens that you can’t keep up with your goals on particular days, try to compensate this time on other days.
2. Select Dialect of Arabic Language.
Since Arabic is spoken in many different areas and countries it is not surprising that this language has many dialects. These dialects differ a lot and they can even be considered as separate languages. You wouldn’t want to spend time learning dialect that you will not use. Hence one of the first things to do when starting Arabic studying is to choose which type of Arabic you will try to learn. Depending on the reason you want to learn this language, you can choose MSA, classical or some more popular spoken dialects like Egyptian, Gulf and etc.
3. Learn Arabic Alphabet.
As Arabic has different alphabet than English, the next logical step would be to begin with it. When learning letters, try to listen to the letter pronunciation by a native speaker. It is not too difficult to find free YouTube videos teaching Arabic alphabet that are completely free. Although when looking for learning videos or audios make sure that the speaker uses your selected dialect. Also stay active when learning and try to mimic letter pronunciation by yourself. Additionally you can find workbooks or flashcards dedicated to teaching alphabet of this language. You can buy them quite cheaply or simply borrow from you local library.
4. Learn About Changes in Letter Forms.
One quite unique aspect of Arabic is that letters in this language tend to change its form determent by where they appear in a word. Letter can have a different form when it appears on its own, it is in the beginning, center or end of word. Hence there are four different forms of each letter in the alphabet. It is important to be aware about this characteristic, so that you would notice patterns from the start and your overall learning would be more efficient.
5. Learn New Relevant Arabic Vocabulary Each Day.
At first try to learn some basic words and useful phrases. The more vocabulary you will learn, the faster you will be able to connect them into sentences and start speaking. You could start with some simple phrases like how to say “hello”, “goodbye” and etc. Then you can learn numbers, weekdays and etc. Later on, it might be worthwhile to include words from topics that interest you or your hobbies. Learning to speak about subjects that matter to you, will keep you more motivated. Also it might be good idea to start writing your Arabic vocabulary diary. This way it is more likely to become your daily routine and you can use the notes to repeat previously learned words.
6. Find Speaking Partner to Communicate in Arabic.
Whenever learning a new language, it is always useful to speak it out load and practice it each day. This way you will be more motivated to improve your skills and be able to communicate in more topics. Finding Arabic speaking partner is not too difficult these days. There a few free websites offering language learning exchange. You would teach someone languages that you know and in exchange you would have the possibility to speak to Arabic native speaker. A few websites offering this kind of service are iTalki, ConversationExchange, The Mixxer, Speaky and others. Alternatively, you can also look up some Facebook groups dedicated to teaching Arabic. Many Arabic speakers seek to improve their English language skills, hence it is not too difficult to find similar offerings in these social communities.
7. Download Some Free Apps.
It happens quite frequently that we have a free minute while traveling to work or waiting in a que. Why not use this time to learn something new in Arabic? One great way to do this is to download some free mobile apps that teach Arabic. Typically most language teaching apps are very engaging and they use gamification. This means that users collect points or badges for completed tasks while moving forward with studying content. This type of learning is fun and keeps you from getting bored.
When selecting particular apps to download, it is useful to do a bit of research to investigate what part of language each application covers. It is more advantageous to have applications that focus on different aspects of Arabic. Fluency in a new language is not something you can expect to achieve with apps. Tipically it is mostly aimed at beginner learners and doesn’t cover languages in depth. Nevertheless, it is great additional learning tool to make your studying faster.
Some of the most popular apps for Arabic learning are Memrise, MangoLanguages, Drops and Mondly. It might be also useful to download apps for English-Arabic translation or vice versa. This way you can get a quick translation via your phone whenever you need one. Also there are specific apps dedicated to teaching particular area of Arabic like alphabet, letter writing and etc. They can come in handy especially once you are just starting to study.
8. Surround Yourself With Media in Arabic.
The more you hear and see Arabic language, the better learning results you can expect to have. To train your ears to Arabic sounds you can download popular Arabic music, find a list of radio stations in this language or download some podcasts.
If you prefer video content, it might be useful to watch TV news (BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera and others), shows and movies in Arabic. For learners who want to improve their reading skills, it might be worthwhile to turn on subtitles in video content, read newspapers and magazines in Arabic. Of course, this tip is more practical when you are at least a bit familiar with a language. Otherwise it might be hard to recognize words or notice any patters.
9. Dedicate Some Budget on Paid Learning Resources.
Everyone loves free stuff and learning materials are no exception. While there is plenty of free resources and methods for studying Arabic, they are usually free for some reason. Either the quality is not great or they are free of charge only for limited use.
While there are possible exceptions to this, learners who want more advanced learning resources should consider dedicating a budget for it. It is likely that paid course or book will be structured better or explain new language concepts in more detail. Hence if you are serious about studying Arabic, sign up for classes, buy online course or books. With more and quality resources you will be more likely to learn faster and achieve your goals.
10. Determine Your Current Level at Arabic.
For learners who are not completely new at Arabic, it might be advantageous to do language level testing. This is recommended tip, because it will help to determine your knowledge level, select more accurate learning resources and see whether you are progressing according to plan. It is possible to get language level testing for free as many schools or companies in this area offer it. After getting your results, you will also be able to include your proficiently level in your CV or other similar applications.
Hopefully, this article will give you some ideas on how to make your Arabic studying more efficient. Of course, not all of these tips are suitable for all learners or their goals. Nevertheless, trying to incorporate at least a couple of them into your learning routine can make a big difference.