Is it hard to learn Arabic? The Beginner’s Guide

Most people may be keen to know the hard and easy ways of learning the Arabic language which is proving ways to be at par with other languages recognized globally. Over the years, learning Arabic is gaining traction among young people who are yearning to speak a more exotic language. The question of whether it is indeed hard to learn is always the first impression of this language.

As there is no hard and fast rule about this language, the answer is actually NO. To give you simplified quick examples: The Arabic verb system is pretty easy as there are only two tenses – the past and non-past. The Arabic sounds can be easily learned by imitation which you cannot find in English.

Why do people perceive the Arabic Language as difficult to learn?

There are over 400 million native and non-native speakers of the Arabic language and it is now considered as one of the five most widely spoken languages around the world. In fact, it is the existing religious language of around 1.6 billion Muslims.

Arabic was considered a difficult language to categorize because it is composed of a group of dialects merged under one umbrella. Correspondingly, it is hard to establish the number of speakers and these are precisely the reasons why it is tough to establish which language is separated from a dialect that makes it “Arabic”.

Even though Arabic was considered the Language of Science during the middle ages, it had a number of crossed over words from around the globe. Apparently, Arabic also belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family and largely spoken in oil-rich Gulf countries, and the fastest expanding markets in Africa. All of this provides great economic incentives for learning this beautiful, yet puzzling language.

Apart from the number of dialects in one category, the birth of the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), which appears to have an archaic and artificial image, gave a more difficult impression of the language. At this point, it is crucial to recognize that MSA, although related to the ancient Classic Arabic, is official used in literature and formal speeches.

What makes Arabic easy to learn in contrast to what many people think?

Arabic appears to be difficult because of its curvy lines, strict pronunciation, and practice of foreign cultures. But as you go along learning, you will discover the varied reasons why the Arabic language is, in fact, easier than most major languages you will learn.

For English speakers who are learning the language, some of the difficulties encountered is that reading and writing starts from right to left which is the exact opposite direction of the English language, the use of alphabets and tones, and the omission of the vowels which are all completely different from English.

One strategy in learning the language is through active networking and build your own connections so you can apply what you have been learning and find the joy in the process. Moving on to the core of this topic, let us guide you through the facts and tips of learning this language the easy way.

Contemplate on the roots of why you want to learn Arabic. Your level and speed of learning will depend on your attitude and impression of the language. Why Arabic? Is it because of any of the following reasons?

1. Business affairs
2. Religious matters
3. Military assignment
4. Employment or Expatriation
5. Married to a native speaker
6. Migration
7. Travel holidays
8. You find Arabic intriguing and interesting

The learner is likely to succeed gauging on the answer to the question “why?”, if the motivation is in-depth, and if the objective is valid. Nevertheless, difficult things become spontaneously easier if you are passionate about the result.

The choice of dialect to learn is also another challenge for the Arabic learners. However, it can be easily resolved if you have a firm decision regarding the locals you wish to interact with, the country you intend to travel, and how you want to use the functions based on your need to learn Arabic. Whether its Iraqi, Moroccan or Jordanian, you alone can choose the path where you believe success in learning the language awaits you.

The Arabic alphabet or script appears to be very difficult but it is actually very straightforward. To soothe your qualms, bear in mind the following basic pointers:

1. The absence of vowels

This is the only thing that cannot be contested. Arabic is recognized as an abjad where a – b – j – d are the first letters of the Arabic alphabet. An abjad is a writing system where each letter is a consonant but the vowel markings are left out. This means that a word like kalb (dog) is written: k – l – b. At this point, it would be up to you to determine where the missing vowels should belong.

In the long run, you begin to acknowledge the patterns in writing and can be confident enough to make precise estimates on most of the words. Come to think of it, there also many English words which are not pronounced as it is written or what we commonly call, the silent letters. For instance, whistle and muscle, among others. We only came to know its proper pronunciation over time through practice and experience. Categorically, this similarly holds true with Arabic.

Most of the distinguishing factors of the Arabic vocabulary can be derived from the 2 to 4-letter stems although it is mostly 3-letter stems. This makes studying Arabic a piece of cake.

To give you an example, the 3-letter stems K-T-B can make up words related to writing one way or another. From here, you can obtain all types of related vocabulary such as:

Maktab –  Office
Kaatib –  Writer
Kitaab – Book
Kataba – Record

These words are used in a number of Semitic and Indo-Iranian languages that contain the same stem but in a different configuration. The roots are from a number of Semitic words which have to do with writing. Comparatively, English words of the same meaning do not use similar root letters.

Again, this means that as you get better in Arabic studies, you can confidently make precise guesses on the meaning of various words as long as you are familiar with its stem.

2. Scribbles and Marks

We want to guarantee you that the Arabic alphabet is remarkably easy and clear-cut. You just simply need to condition your mind that Arabic is read and written from right to left and the letters are connected (similar to the English writing in cursive). Keep your mindset that way until you get familiar with the language.

Also, Arabic letters share the same ancient origin as the English alphabet. For example, the letters like lam and sin exhibits exact resemblance to their English counterparts. The other letters are just a matter of memorizing the placement of dots.

3. Arabic is universal and Arab are everywhere

With over 400 million speakers, Arabic is recognized as the fifth most common language worldwide. As a learner, the resources and opportunities are ample and you can take advantage of it. Diverse websites are also available which are dedicated to teaching Arabic and offers brilliant learning materials for intermediate and advanced learners.

Why is the Arabic grammar more simple compared to other languages?

Convincingly, the Arabic grammar is simple compared to the languages of German and Russian. Even if you learn the traditional or modern conversational method, the Arabic grammar remains to be simple depending on your learning style and choice of dialect.

Here are some justifiable facts to affirm the simplicity of the Arabic grammar:

1. It has no neuter gender.
2. The verb “to be” is omitted in present tenses.
3. The possession of nouns and direct objects are superlatively easy just by learning a few suffixes such as: ya = my, so as an example – abuu-ya (my father), axuu-ya (my brother).
4. The consistency and quick learning pattern of the Arabic verb forms can be memorized individually or learn it in context by exposure. The latter is more recommended.

What is my conclusion?

In summary, there is no doubt that it’s easy to learn this language given the many borrowed foreign vocabulary and expressions which are most commonly used in the colloquial Arabic dialects.

These borrowed foreign words usually come from French applied to the dialects of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. While English borrowed words and expressions can be found more prominently in Egypt and Levantine dialects. Thanks to social media, these loan words starts to spread widely to many Arabic speaking countries. Although there are borrowed words that are still considered foreign, there are also borrowed words in the past that have now become part of the native language.

Apart from the borrowed foreign words, Arabic is the easiest language to communicate with someone and to find opportunities to practice the conversation.

Unlike the more reserved native speakers of other languages at par, the native Arab speakers are generally accommodating and you will never have any issue initiating the conversation with them.