10 Tips on How to Learn Arabic
BY: Nadine Ismail/Ambassador Blogger
So you finally decided to learn Arabic this year as your New Year’s resolution. Read my article about 10 reasons why it should be so. Congratulations! Now you need to turn this excitement to commitment and I am here to help you do it. If it is your child that you wish to teach Arabic to, read my previous article about 6 tips to teach your kids Arabic.
Here are 10 ways you can learn the Arabic Language and not give up.
1. Set realistic goals
If you are planning on becoming fluent in Arabic in a year, then you need to reconsider your goal. One cannot become fluent in a language in only one year. In fact, language learning never stops, even for a native speaker. Instead of setting unrealistic goals that are doomed to fail, give yourself realistic, achievable goals. For example: “By the end of the year, I would like to be able to write a paragraph in modern standard Arabic (Fos’ha)” or “I would like to be able to carry a short conversation in the Lebanese Dialect” if spoken language is what you are after.
2. Make time
You will need to set some time aside, preferably on a daily basis, so you can achieve your goal. I highly recommend blocking out actual time on your calendar every day and really commit to this. Think of it as an appointment with your doctor that you wouldn’t consider missing. That is exactly how you should treat this task. As little as 20 minutes a day is a great start. Once you build this positive habit of learning Arabic everyday, you will notice the improvement. Make sure to set times that are convenient for you and that you can guarantee will be uninterrupted.
3. Break your big goal into mini goals
Take your big goal and break it into smaller, concrete actions. For example, in order to write a paragraph in Arabic, you need learn: the alphabet in initial, medial and final positions; the sounds of the letters; the long and short vowels; how to read and write new vocabulary; and how to make simple sentences. This is achievable in one year.
4. Revisit and adjust your plan
Twelve months is a long time. Check where you are along the way and revisit your goals. Arabic is a difficult language to learn since it is a completely different alphabet for English speakers. The letters change their shapes depending on their position in the word and objects have gender, unlike in English. Other goals for the year can be to learn: 500 new vocabulary words; the gender of 500 new words; order tea in Arabic at an Arab restaurant; and master difficult phonetics.
5. Immerse yourself in the language
Meet Arab friends, listen to the radio, watch a show on TV, and try to read the newspaper. Even if you do not fully understand the content, keep it as a daily exercise and you will eventually make sense of it all. The other great news is this listening exercise is the only way to improve your accent. Your brain will process all the information and you will notice the improvement with time. Try listening to a playlist of some of my favorite Arabic series and plays to improve your accent and immerse yourself in the language.
6. Have a practice buddy
Keep yourself motivated and accountable by practicing Arabic with a friend. It is always a good strategy to practice the language with someone who is fluent and non-judgmental. I have a friend who practices Arabic with me and I practice Spanish with her.
7. Explore the culture
The language is more than just words and letters – it is the gateway to the culture. It is beneficial to explore the culture of the language you are learning. Learn how to make Sfoof, an easy Lebanese dessert. Learn about amazing Arab chefs, like Joudie Kalla, author of “Palestine on a Plate”.
8. Use the resources
You don’t have to pay to learn a language because there are many FREE resources to use. Your public library is a great source for finding Arabic language books. Social media is offers many Facebook groups that meant for teaching languages or Twitter feeds for finding Arabic language articles. Explore phone apps that are meant to teach Arabic, too. Many of them are free or offer a free trial.
9. Reward yourself
It is always a good idea to connect success with a positive experience. It gives us motivation to continue working towards our goal. This strategy works great with kids and adults. Rewards can be simple, such as making a delicious cup of tea, or eating at your favorite Lebanese restaurant, or even treating yourself to a trip to Beirut.
10. Have fun
Remember that you decided to embark on this journey for a reason. It can be to connect with family and friends, or expand your job opportunities, but remember to keep the learning part fun and enjoyable. Play games such as our family favorite “Human, Animal, thing” or one of the many games listed in my article about 10 games to survive winter break.
Nadine Ismail of Reinventing Nadine is a blogger living in the Bay Area in California. Nadine shares on her blog and Instagram account her recipes, crafts and embroidery tutorials, and parental advice, especially raising a bilingual child.