Are you, like many others, thinking about learning Arabic?
Forget what you may have been told. Of course, speaking Arabic may seem, at first glance, to be an insurmountable task after a lifetime of speaking a Latin-based language.
You've been told that Arabic verbs are hard, Arabic pronunciation is harder, and even basic Arabic takes a lifetime to achieve
To be honest, mastering the Arabic language will be more difficult than, say, learning Spanish, German, French, or Portuguese. But it isn't as bad as people make out.
Taking the plunge into the Arabic language will be quite the challenging adventure!
In your Arabic learning, you will study about pronunciation, dialect, and grammatical structures, as well as developing a complex lexicon of Arabic words, expressions and phrases.
Equipped with a willingness to work, a good strategy, and an experienced Arabic teacher, any obstacles will be easily overcome as you advance toward your goal.
As the ancient Asian proverb says,
"Virtue, science, and true learning are the only things that render us worthy."
Learn Arabic With the Help of a Geographical Map
The first tip for learning the Arabic language is to take a close look at a geographical map of the Arab world.
Yes, a geographical map! Right away, you'll learn how to say red, father, gazelle, island, desert, and even mountain in Arabic!
Arabic is the 5th most spoken language in the world, and as your studies progress, you will discover the following:
- an Arabic alphabet that is totally different than our own
- it is made up of new pronunciations and sounds
- it has a rich Arabic vocabulary
- complex and varied Arabic linguistics are found throughout
Take that first step into the Arabic-speaking world. Explore a geographical map of the Middle East and increase your Arabic vocabulary.
Can you really learn Arabic with a map?
In fact, examining a map can reveal the many links between names of Arab cities and Arab countries. Several names you'll see on the map are quite precise, not at all the result of chance.
Try enriching your Arabic vocabulary quickly and easily with these simple memory aids.
Learn Arabic via the countries of the Arab world.
First step: analyze the lexicology of Arabic speaking countries.
Here are a few examples:
Morocco: Maghreb al-Aksa or al-Magrib in Arabic " المغرب" meaning "land of the setting sun".
Sharjah: "الشارقة", ash-Shariqah in Arabic. This city is located in the eastern half the United Arab Emirates, making its meaning easy to remember, "rising sun" (in the East).
Sudan: "السودان", as-Sudan, which comes from the Arabic term, balad as-sudaan, meaning "land of dark people".
Sahara: "الصحراء", as-Sahra in Arabic refers to the vast desert expanses. It translates literally as "desert".
Bahrein: Al-Bahrayn, "البحرين" in which you can see the Arabic term "بحر", Bahr, which means "the sea" to which is added the suffix "اثنان" to make it plural. Al-Bahrayn then means "the two seas".
Dar es Salaam: if translated word-for-word, Dar as-Salam, "دار السلام", means "house of peace" or "region of Islam". Salam can be translated as either "peace" or "Islam".
Likewise, studying the names of famous places can help you increase your knowledge of Arabic.
After a good look at the Arab world, we can now take a glance at the lexicology of the names of some well-known locations in the area.
Here are four examples to further develop your Arabic vocabulary:
Gibraltar: Djebel Tariq, " جبل طارق", means "Tariq's mountain" in English and is named for a Moroccan Berber general, Tariq Ibn Ziyad.
Alhambra: Al-Hamra, written completely as "قصر الحمراء" refers to the "red palace" (the nickname of the sumptuous Andalusian palace). Al-Hamra means "red".
Abu Dhabi: "أبو ظبي". Abu Zaby in Arabic literally means "father of gazelles". Ab for "father" and Dabi for "gazelles".
To go further...
Let's continue with five names that will enrich your linguistic knowledge of the Arabian peninsula.
Algeria: al-Jaza’ir, "الجزائر", means "the islands" in English.
Jeddah: in Arabic, "جدّة" is a derivation of Jaddah, which means "grandmother".
Muscat: "مسقط" or Masqat signifies "falling place".
Sanaa: Sana’a or "صنعاء" in Arabic comes from the same root as the words for "production" (إنتاج) and "artisanal" ( حرفة).
Aden: "عدن" or Adan is an Arabic word closely related to the term Eden which comes from Akkadian (an extinct Semitic language) meaning "plain" or "paradise".
This is only a partial list of the vocabulary that you can learn by studying a geographical map of the Arab world. Who ever said Arabic was complicated?
Arabic for Beginners: Install an Arabic Keyboard on Your Computer
The second tip for a beginner learning Arabic is to use an Arabic keyboard on your computer and smartphone.
Why, you ask?
To one day be able to write in Arabic, follow the golden rule: learn the Arabic alphabet.
Just forget, for now, about our Latin-based alphabet.
The Arabic alphabet is composed mostly of consonants and follows the archaic sequence of an abjad, a writing system based solely on consonants.
Here is a transliteration of the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet.
- ش : š
- س : s
- ز : z
- ر : r
- ذ : ḏ
- د : d
- خ : ẖ
- ح : ḥ
- ج : ǧ
- ث : ṯ
- ت : t
- ب : b
- ا : ā
- ء : ʾ
- ي : y
- و : w
- ه : h
- ن : n
- م : m
- ل : l
- ك : k
- ق : q
- ف : f
- غ : ġ
- ع : ʿ
- ظ : ẓ
- ط : ṭ
- ض : ḍ
- ص : ṣ
Vowels are only hinted at when written. They only appear in teaching and the religious texts of Islam and the Muslim holy book of the Quran.
Now, before you go thinking that learning the Arabic alphabet is too simple, you should know that each letter has three declensions depending on its position in the word: beginning, middle, or end. Now, you've got 84 different characters to learn by heart!
Take advantage of this digital era in which we live.
- Practice Arabic script.
- Chat with 300 million Arabic speakers worldwide.
- Impress your Arabic tutor, etc.
Take Arabic lessons London or elsewhere in the UK!
Install an Arabic Keyboard on Your Computer
Installing an Arabic keyboard with Windows is easy.
Change your computer's system language to transform your azerty keyboard to an Arabic keyboard.
- Click on the "Windows" logo at the bottom left of your screen.
- Click on the "control panel".
- Choose "region and language".
- Click on "keyboards and languages".
- "Add a language".
- Click on "change keyboards".
The set of languages for your computer system should appear.
Depending on the version of Windows you use, you may have access to several Arabic dialects, such as Egyptian Arabic, dialectical Arabic, Syrian Arabic, etc.
Choose the Arabic language that meets your particular needs.
Installing an Arabic Keyboard on a Mac
To practice your Arabic writing, you can, as with all Apple products, use an Arabic keyboard on your Mac by quickly making a few simple changes.
- Go to the Apple menu.
- Click on "system preferences".
- In the window that appears, choose "keyboard".
- You should now see four tabs near the top. Click on "input methods".
- Click on the "+" sign at the lower left to add a new keyboard.
- All of the available languages should appear. Select "Arabic".
- Confirm and finish by checking "enable keyboard shortcuts".
Add an Arabic Keyboard to Your iPhone
It's become nearly impossible these days to be without your smartphone. Why not take advantage of this by practising using Arabic script anywhere and at any time?
Do you, like hundreds of millions of other people in the world, own an iPhone?
Make the most of it by using an Arabic keyboard on your smartphone. It's easy.
- Open "settings".
- Go to "general".
- Find "keyboard".
- Click on "keyboard". Then, choose "international keyboards" (a number will appear on the tab representing the number of keyboards already activated for taking notes).
- Look for your desired Arabic language among the international keyboards.
- Add the keyboard.
You can now use the Arabic alphabet for taking notes whenever you like.
While taking notes, click on the "world map" logo on the lower left-hand side of the keyboard and all of the available languages will appear. You can easily switch back and forth between Arabic and English.
Use your Arabic keyboard while taking your online Arabic lessons via one of many available applications.
Where Can You Learn Arabic?
Before learning Arabic in the Arab world, it's important to know a few things about the language.
Arabic is the official language in 26 countries, as well as being one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Linguistically speaking, written and oral Arabic represent two language varieties that co-exist. More specifically, while Modern standard Arabic (Msa) or literary Arabic is used when writing, dialectical Arabic is used when speaking.
This entails more work when learning Arabic than when learning another foreign language.
Through the centuries, the Arabic language has passed beyond the borders of Arab nations and has spread geographically and sociologically across the planet.
How can you learn Arabic when you don't live in an Arabic speaking country?
- learn Arabic grammar
- practise oral comprehension and Arabic phonetics
- learn Arabic vocabulary
- master Arabic letters
- discover other cultures
- prepare for a language stay in Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, or Dubai, for example
- learn the tajwid in order to read the Holy Quran
There are many reasons why a learner might choose to take Arabic courses. Such knowledge could open up more opportunities than you think, and not necessarily in the Arab world.
The number of American students enrolled in Arabic language classes and Arabic courses went up by 126.5% between 2002 and 2006. It rose again by 46.3% in the three years that followed.
Why Should You Learn Arabic When You Don't Live in an Arab Country?
Whether you are in Africa, Europe, Asia, or North America, it isn't unusual to see the influence of Arabic culture in other languages.
Since the Middle Ages, Arabic has left its mark on languages worldwide, such as Spanish, Persian, and Hui Chinese, for three reasons.
- Through the expansion of Islam, there are now more than one billion Muslims on the planet.
- Arabic literature is known and admired throughout the world.
- Arab nations are enjoying a growing economic power. Oil (black gold), artisanal trades, hydrocarbon, and energy are just some of the areas in which the Arab world has gained a major economic presence in international business relations.
Many people often seek work in the United Arab Emirates or northern Africa, looking to experience a different life, language, and culture.
Whether, it's formal, conversational or even colloquial Arabic, one day, having a successful career may depend on knowing how to speak Arabic!