7 Tips to learn Arabic fast, speak it correctly and be understood by Arabs
7 Tips to learn Arabic fast, speak it correctly, and understand and be understood by Arabic speakers
1- Learn how to pronounce Arabic correctly from the start
If you don’t, you will waste time and energy, and you will become frustrated.
When students call me to take Arabic lessons with me, I ask them to write 2 paragraphs in Arabic and email them to me in order to assess their level. When I receive some student’s paragraphs, I classify them as advanced. However, once I speak to them on the phone, guess which level a lot of them really classify as... Beginner!
Why? Because they learned all their words incorrectly. I could not understand them because of their mispronunciation of letters and vowels, in addition to them putting stress on the wrong syllable. You can know all the words in the dictionary, but if you don’t learn the correct pronunciation, no Arabic speaker will be able to understand you.
Now you will have to spend time unlearning the wrong pronunciation which means breaking all the connections between neurons in your brain that you have formed and then spending more time to build new ones. Believe me, it is difficult. I speak from my experience learning English and from the experience of students who come to me to learn Arabic.
It is a mistake that many students make. But the good news is that it can be easily avoided!
Arabic pronunciation is straightforward, consistent, logical, and has rules.
In English, some letters and letter pairings, such as “gh” could be pronounced as an “f” in the word laugh, as a hard “G” in the word “ghost” and not pronounced at all in “though”.
Arabic pronunciation, however, has more logical rules. Thus, once you learn these rules, you will be able to pronounce any Arabic word with vowels correctly!
2- When learning the alphabet, make sure to learn the few different ways of pronouncing certain letters in different dialects
There are six letters that could be pronounced differently depending on the dialect.
Example: The letter ث is pronounced as “th” as in three, or as a regular “t” as in tree, or as an “s” in so. Knowing this helps you understand all Arabic speakers once you learn the language.
3- Choose the version of Arabic that meets your needs
Before starting your Arabic learning, you need to know which version of Arabic you should learn to achieve your own goals. There are many versions of Arabic. For example, if you are traveling to a certain country, make sure to learn the dialect which is spoken there, and not the dialect of another country or region.
4- Make sure you learn from professional teachers who are preferably native speakers
Some professional, well trained, and knowledgeable teachers are better than native speakers who have no knowledge and no methodology in teaching languages
5- Learn from organized material, especially courses that use the spiral method
These courses will teach you one topic at a time, instead of teaching random words here and there. Since, languages differ in sentence structure, learning words will not help you master the language. You cannot translate sentences from English into Arabic word for word. You will only end up with sentences that do not make any sense. After you learn how to make a sentence, you can add vocabulary to that sentence.
Let’s look at this sentence as an example: “I am American.”
In Arabic, we say, “Anaa Amreekee” (if a male is speaking): أَنَا أَمْرِيكِي
(This sentence actually translates word for word into “I American,” since the verb “to be” is not used in this case).
Now that you know this sentence structure, you can easily use it with the words for other nationalities, which you will learn.
6- Once you have learned how to pronounce Arabic correctly and learned the basics, Immerse yourself in Arabic every day by:
Listening to Arabic music:
There are plenty of songs on YouTube that have lyric subtitles. The brain is really good at retaining languages when accompanied by music, so this is a great method to use! Also, make sure to choose music that you like! This will allow you to have fun, and your brain will better retain what you hear (as opposed to listening to a song you do not care for).
Watching Arabic shows, soap operas, movies, plays, and/or documentaries, especially with Arabic and English subtitles, at the beginning of your Arabic learning journey.
If you are studying Formal Arabic (called Modern Standard Arabic), you can read or watch Arabic stories. Stories you are familiar with, such as “Aladdin” for example, are perfect for this!
7- Listen to Arabic before bedtime:
Listening to Arabic before bedtime is also a great way to learn. Studies suggest that the brain retains information the best when learning it shortly before going to bed. This is because when we go to sleep, our subconscious mind goes to work and stores this material.