88 weeks. That’s how long it takes to learn to speak Arabic well, according to the Foreign Service Institute. It must be said that this language has a reputation of being difficult: alphabet, pronunciation… everything seems to be quite different from French. And yet, with the right learning methodology, it is quite possible to learn Arabic easily!
1. Understand the difference between literal Arabic and dialectal Arabic
You might not be aware, but there isn’t only one Arabic language. There is a difference between literary Arabic and dialectal Arabic.
Literary Arabic includes :
- Classical Arabic: used in literary works;
- Modern Arabic: taught in contemporary schools and also used in the media.
Meanwhile, dialectal Arabic includes all the dialects spoken in the different Arabic-speaking countries. These are, for example:
- Moroccan Arabic;
- Algerian Arabic;
- Tunisian Arabic;
- Egyptian Arabic;
- Lebanese Arabic;
- Yemeni Arabic…
When you start learning Arabic, it is the literal version that you will learn, especially Modern Standard Arabic.
2. Set a goal
It is easier to learn a language when you have a specific reason for doing so. So, before taking Arabic lessons, ask yourself this question: why do I want to learn this language?
The reasons can be personal:
- a fascination for Arabic culture, Islam, history, linguistics, etc.;
- a desire to travel to Arabic-speaking countries;
- a need to learn Arabic to communicate more easily with your relatives, friends and acquaintances who speak Arabic.
But they can also be professional:
- an expatriation project;
- adding a rare and sought-after skill to your CV;
- the intention to develop your business in new markets: Maghreb, Arabian Gulf countries;
- a desire to take on new professional responsibilities, to earn a better salary, etc.
3. Learn the Arabic alphabet to read and write easily
Now that you know what you’re getting into and why, it’s time to get started for real! The first step is to familiarise yourself with the Arabic writing system. Here are some interesting points to note:
- Arabic is written from right to left;
- the alphabet has 28 main letters and is consonantal (no vowels);
- the calligraphy of each letter varies slightly depending on its position in the word (beginning, middle or end).
4. Focus on useful vocabulary
Depending on the goal you have set yourself before starting Arabic, it is best to focus on vocabulary that you really need. As a first step, learn the most common vocabulary that will allow you to:
- introduce yourself in Arabic;
- be at ease in the most common communication situations (asking for directions, shopping, ordering in a restaurant…).
Then learn more advanced vocabulary, but selectively. You certainly don’t need to know how to translate “cadastre” or “usufruct”, unless you intend to work as a real estate agent in an Arabic-speaking country.
👉 Going further: How many words do you need to know to speak a language well?
5. Get to grips with grammar and conjugation
You should know that Arabic grammar is very different from French grammar. But it is not impossible to learn (far from it!). You will first have to analyse how sentences are structured in order to understand them.
As for conjugation, we have good news for you: there are only two main tenses in Arabic: one for completed actions and the other for actions that have not been completed yet. So goodbye to the the past conditional or the present continuous!
6. Speak Arabic with a trainer or friend to gain confidence
We’re not going to lie to you: your first few conversations in Arabic will probably be a bit of a struggle. You will need to focus on many aspects of the language, including pronunciation.
The best way to gain confidence is to start by talking to a native speaker who can teach you. This can be someone close to you who speaks Arabic (relative, friend, neighbour, etc.) or, even better, a professional trainer. The latter will adapt his speech to your level for better results.
💡 You may also be interested in this article: Overcoming your fear of speaking a language: causes and solutions.
7. Learn Arabic easily through blended learning with 1to1PROGRESS
Blended learning is a method that combines the human and digital factors to support you in your language learning project. You can therefore learn a language like Arabic from home, while benefiting from the expertise of a trainer.
With this hybrid training method, you can take part in lessons by telephone or video conference with your trainer. These sessions are supplemented by independent exercises:
- doing grammar and vocabulary exercises;
- listening to podcasts or watching videos in Arabic;
- reading press articles;
Each activity helps you to assimilate and apply the elements covered during the lesson.
It is an effective and flexible learning method based on the right balance between the human and the digital factors. It is the ideal way to learn Arabic easily!