Learning Arabic – Things to Consider

If you are planning to learn Arabic, keep in mind that unless you know exactly why you want to learn it, you could end up either in needing to start it all over again or altogether giving up learning Arabic.

There may be a number of reasons why one wants to learn Arabic online Skype or through other means. Maybe some people are relocating in an Arabic country. Or maybe they are getting married in an Arabic family. Or maybe they are going on a holiday for a few weeks or a month in an Arabic city/country. Or maybe they are going to live there for coming 4-5 years on account of their job. Or the purpose of the learner may be purely academic such as reading, translation or the likes. It’s important to know your particular reason.

Here’s what you need to do: No matter which variety of Arabic you start learning, learn the alphabet, prepositions, pronouns, what the simple differences between verbs and nouns are. Once you do this, you have to be sure now of your direction since the next steps will be critical as the differences between the forms of Arabic you will learn are unambiguous. The selection of vocabulary, grammar and phrases will have an effect on your writing and conversation.

Here are the different forms of Arabic:

Classical/Quranic Arabic: Spoken in religious communities, institutions, texts and Islamic studies and also in classical Arab poetry

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA): Spoken on TV and in newspapers, magazines and universities etc.

One of the many forms of colloquial/slang Arabic: Spoken in streets, handy while shopping and speaking to locals

Although Quranic Arabic is characterised as classical, its understanding is in fact quite different than classical Arabic.

MSA or modern standard Arabic borrows its grammar from the classical Arabic but typically has a different grammar and vocabulary usage. MSA is more used by TV, news and other media. It’s understood by Arabs as they read the newspapers and watch TV every day, quite the same way you understand the news in your own language. It sounds too refined if used while speaking in the street, but it’s still understood.

When it’s about learning colloquial or slang Arabic, a major benefit of learning it is that it’s the form of the language that is understood in the streets and markets. But it has drawbacks that its words are usually misspelt, chopped or mispronounced, letters may be skipped or added and grammar rules are ignored. It’s promoted as “spoken” Arabic as if the other forms of Arabic mentioned above are not spoken!

All in all, you should understand which form of Arabic you are going to learn and learn it thoroughly giving attention to proper grammar and pronunciations. Only then you’ll get the true satisfaction of learning Arabic.