With more than 300 million speakers worldwide, Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world and one of the most widespread in terms of the distribution of its speakers.
Arabic is a language that deserves a lot of attention due to its geographical, historical, philosophical, economical, cultural, scientific, geo-political, and strategical richness.
There are two main types of Arabic: dialectical Arabic, which is modern standard Arabic used in speaking, and literary Arabic, which is the older form used in the Islamic Holy Book, the Quran.
Whether you want to learn to speak colloquial conversational Arabic so that you can converse with friends, or formal Arabic to use in the business world, both forms figure heavily in educational programs for each individual learner regardless of their age.
Unfortunately, most students rush to sign up for Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, or Mandarin Chinese classes.
Arabic is thus largely neglected by younger students. And in college, very few students take Arabic classes alongside their other courses.
And yet, in many ways, the Arabic language is very much a part of our culture:
- Many of our words and phrases come from Arabic words
- We use numerals that originate from the Arabic language
Learning Egyptian Arabic will enhance your understanding of Arab culture in more than twenty Arab countries where Arabic is the mother tongue and the official language.
In the same way that learning to play a musical instrument does, learning the Arabic alphabet, Arabic vocabulary, Arabic grammar, and written Arabic will all stimulate your mind and help to keep it active.
In this article, we'll present you with a number of advantages and benefits that come with learning to speak Arabic.
Why Learn Arabic: To Understand the Contributions It Has Made to Our Culture
Arabic is everywhere in our culture and its influences are invaluable.
Arab culture invented a number of fields that have inspired Western culture. Literature and poetry, calligraphy, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and philosophy all have roots in Arab culture.
The influence of Arabic is truly remarkable. Arab civilization is renowned in the worlds of art, literature, and science. By learning Modern Standard Arabic you will be able to fully appreciate such an incredible heritage.
Additionally, if your interests lie in religion and Islam, studying the Qu'ran by learning Arabic will be very helpful.
From the 7th century, when Arab people began exploring Europe and establishing settlements in Spain and southern France, Arabic words steadily became incorporated into many southern European languages, many of which eventually made their way into English.
Words such as alchemy, algorithm, algebra, caramel, elixir, orange, zero, apricot, gazelle, sorbet, alcohol, magazine, coffee, sugar — along with many others — were inspired by written and spoken Arabic.
Arab impacts on literature and poetry throughout history offer another reason to learn Arabic. Persian, Arab, and Maghreb authors of the past have left us with timeless masterpieces that enable you to better study Arabic words and idiomatic expressions. Reading Arabic texts and understanding these idioms outside of language lessons is an excellent exercise to help you to learn Arabic.
And why not indulge yourself with a beginner course in calligraphy: you'll make even more progress in your understanding of the Qu'ran. You can also read aloud to improve your pronunciation and speaking skills.
During any Semitic language class, you'll need to learn the Arabic alphabet. And although many students say that it's a complex task to learn, in reality it only has 28 letters, only two more than our own Latin alphabet.
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The Educational Benefits of Learning Arabic
Opting to take an Arabic Beginners class prior to college can be a real advantage and a driving force for all of your future endeavors.
Learning foreign languages allows you to advance in the world of international business, hospitality, and tourism.
Choosing an Arabic for beginners language class in high school is a guarantee of better opportunities later on. If you understand the verb conjugations, Arabic grammar, written Arabic, and are able to have a conversation in Arabic, you can take intense Arabic courses for adults in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, the U.A.E., Qatar, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia amongst others.
But right now, you can take online Arabic lessons; another method to become fluent in Arabic! Or you can hire a Moroccan or Egyptian translator — for example — who can help you out.
Learning the alphabet and how to read an Arabic text won't come easy: reading is done right to left and Arabic calligraphy requires careful attention.
Immersing yourself in Arabic language media — like Al Jazeera — will facilitate the learning process and improve your Arabic proficiency. It will allow you to:
- Train your ear to understand the phonetics, so you can better understand sentences
- Improve your Arabic grammar
- Learn new Arabic words and vocabulary, as well as complete Arabic phrases
- Refine your pronunciation and speaking skills
From an educational point of view, learning the Arabic language has a number of virtues.
Firstly, Arabic-speaking students open themselves up to a number of professional opportunities, because of the Arab world's booming economies across the Middle East and north Africa
Secondly, speaking Arabic allows you to potentially communicate with more than 300 million native Arabic speakers. Learning Arabic represents an enormous international opportunity.
Being able to speak Arabic gives you a huge advantage in business in Arab-speaking countries. The complexity of the language and its grammatical structures means that if you can make yourself understood, any Arabic native speaker listening to you will be beyond impressed at your efforts to communicate in their language as opposed to relying on English.
If becoming a teacher is your objective, you can give beginner English lessons to Arabic-speaking children.
You can also become a journalist, international lawyer, humanitarian aid worker, etc. And you'll see that your Arabic classes in high school or college will have been a great help.
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Learning the Arabic Language for Cultural Reasons
We've already mentioned the culture of the Arab world, and that's because it's very rich and very vast. Learning a foreign language always opens doors to new worlds and new cultures.
As we said earlier, the cultural legacy of the Arabic-speaking world can be found throughout the sciences, literature, and arts.
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Some examples of this legacy include:
- Harûn al-Rashid (763–809), the fifth caliph of the Abbasid dynasty, who established the first hospital in the 9th century.
- Ibn Nafis (1213–1288), a Syrian scientist who discovered pulmonary circulation and whose writing on the matter was used in the West until the 16th century.
- Nasir al-Din al-Tûsi (1201–1274), an Iranian who developed the most advanced diagram of the solar system of his time. It was his work that inspired Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) 250 years later.
- The tools of astronomy (the astrolabe, the astronomical clock, the sundial, the compass) used by European colonists to reach the New World were designed and perfected by Arab civilizations.
- Averroes (1126–1198), a renowned philosopher, lawyer, and doctor. He was a great influence on medieval intellectualism. His writings contributed to the understanding of Aristotle's great works. He would become the founder of secular thinking in Western Europe.
- In terms of architecture, Arabs have left a vast legacy, much of which can still be seen and visited, not just in the Arabic-speaking world, but in Spain, France, the Balkans, and elsewhere.
While Christian monks were living in secluded libraries and the West was denouncing everything even remotely profane, the Andalusian and Maghreb Muslims were seeking to bring about a "golden age" that enabled them to make spectacular advances, and which they then brought to Europe during the Dark Ages.
Getting started with the Arabic language at a young age — before high school perhaps — is an educational advantage of the utmost importance because learning a foreign language always facilitates scholarly success.
The globalization of trade has the potential to upset markets, and Arabic-speaking students have a clear advantage over those who've chosen Spanish or French classes instead.
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The Economic Reasons for Taking Arabic Lessons
The economic reasons for learning to speak, read, and write Arabic are numerous. First, the Arab World has taken a strategic position in the context of the globalizing marketplace.
While there are still wide economic disparities in terms of distribution of wealth between Europe and the Arab World, the latter is becoming a bigger and bigger force in the international market.
Arab speaking countries desire to diversify their economies to become more knowledge based, by focusing on more than natural resources — such as tourism and high-tech industries — represents a very good reason to study Arabic.
Here are some ways that relations are expanding between the Arab World and Europe and the U.S.A.
- Countless Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) deals with the Middle East (Qatar, U.A.E.)
- An increase in commercial, diplomatic, financial, and geo-political projects
- More economic partnerships between Western governments and multinational corporations
Learning to read, write, and speak Arabic will thus give you a crucial advantage as you advance your career in tourism or business.
Unfortunately, because many countries in the Arab world house incredible stores of natural resources (oil and gas), these Arab countries and those from the West are often at odds with each other and get bogged down in deadly and inextricable conflicts over access to these energy resources.
Just be careful to watch your step if you're going to take Arabic lessons and strive to become bilingual to enhance your professional career.
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