It is a well-known fact that the Arabic language is spoken by a considerable number of people globally. Considering that, one might question why people call learning Arabic difficult. This article will help you understand the reasons behind this great mystery and guide you on how to learn Arabic quickly. Is Arabic hard to learn? Let’s find out together!
Is Arabic Hard To Learn?
According to English-speaking nations, Arabic is one of the most challenging languages to learn. As per their surveys and experiments, it takes an average English speaker almost eighty-eight weeks to learn Arabic along with the Arabic alphabet and grammar as per Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) dialect.
It is easy to learn Arabic for people who want to explore new regions and learn new things, including language, culture, religion, etc, but it is hard for people who are not as flexible and ready to learn new things. Such people might also have struggled to learn any other language in middle school.
Immersing yourself in learning new things makes it rather easier. Learning Arabic is both easy and difficult, depending upon the type of learner’s personality and learning style. Let’s dig deep into this argument!
Why Do People Find It Difficult?
Arabic may prove difficult because of the many details of the Arabic language. The Arabic language has its reputation for being difficult. Many people say that it sounds more complex compared to other languages. For instance, Spanish, Latin, Japanese, etc., have proper consonant rhymes in typical sentences. As all the words rhyme, it sounds pleasant to ears, and people get attracted to it, which eventually motivates them to learn that language.
On the other hand, in the Arabic language, there are different rare sounds of many letters, and due to clusters of consonants, it sounds a bit more complex than in other languages.
Another reason Arabic is considered difficult is because of the special characters used in every Arabic word. These special characters are changed relative to the meaning conveyed in the sentence.
These special characters are called cases, and such language is called a case language. This case on each word is not present in any other language including English. That makes learning Arabic majorly difficult for even a motivated learner.
Is Arabic Easier To Learn?
Okay, so we have just mentioned why learning the Arabic language might be considered hard, and now you must be thinking “So what? Does that make it easy to learn?”. Honestly, not really but yes.
The Arabic language is partially difficult and partially easy to learn. Following are some aspects that explain how both these phenomena exist in this language.
The world’s technology and inventions are advancing thus the addition to vocabulary are inevitable. The old Arabic language and Arabic words are not enough to keep up with the modern world. Since naming things all over again is difficult, loan words are used in Arabic and many other languages to make them easier to learn.
- Al intarnet (الانترنت) is used for “the Internet”.
- Sabanekh (سبانخ) is used for “spinach”.
- Matrah (مطرح) is used for “mattress”.
Trilateral Root System
The Trilateral Root System is another cool feature of the Arabic words and Arabic language. Anyone who has tried to learn Arabic knows about this feature of the Arabic language. In this system, one word is taken as a root letter, and two or three consonants are added before or after it. It either changes its meaning slightly or changes the way it’s spoken giving an impression of another language.
- Alima (عالمہ) means “to know”.
- Allama (علامہ) means “the one who knows.”
- Muallim (معلم) means “teacher.”
In this example, the word Ilm (علم) is the root word that means “knowledge,” so all the other words also have a link with knowledge or learning.
The Big Question
Here comes the BIG question. Before you start learning the Arabic language, you would need to face an important question; Modern Standard Arabic or Local Dialect?
The answer is that both are equally important because Modern Standard Arabic is not used as a native language in any Arabic-speaking country. Also, it is not the dialect spoken by native speakers or locals of any area.
Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is spoken by the people from media, especially newscasters, and therefore is a strictly formal language. This is because they want everyone, those who know Arabic well and those with merely basic Arabic knowledge, to learn about current affairs.
One doesn’t need to know a lot about MSA until and unless they want to have a job in an Arab country. It is mainly used as a formal language and used in writing only. It is also called written Arabic. Moreover, it is more challenging to learn than many other dialects because of special complexities like cases, etc.
On the other hand, some of the dialects are easier than the MSA, like Egyptian Arabic and Moroccan Arabic. To communicate with the locals, it is essential to know the basic lingo. A combination of MSA and any other dialect is equally necessary to learn. It depends upon one’s choice and preference.
Best Ways To Learn Arabic
The most important thing is knowing how words are pronounced in Arabic. While speaking Arabic, the shape of the mouth continuously changes.
Each word of the Arabic language has its own pronunciation. The pronunciation of Arabic words is very rare but essential at the same time because a slight change in pronunciation can change the meaning of the whole sentence. It is quite a delicate language.
Two central problems will occur if one doesn’t know how each word is pronounced in Arabic.
- First, one will have a hefty accent. Every word coming out of one’s mouth will sound quite awkward.
- Second, one will take one’s due time saying words that sound similar apart.
To speak Arabic fluently, one must be taught to do so. Physical classes can be pretty challenging to attend, therefore online courses, private tutors, blog posts on websites and apps can be helpful too. It all depends on how much a person is motivated to learn Arabic and their learning style.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Arabic?
This is a tricky question as there is no specific period in which anyone can learn Arabic. The time taken to learn Arabic vocabulary, grammatical features, etc., varies from person to person.
It depends on how much time a person has given to learning Arabic, how motivated the person is, and their mental capacity to comprehend and understand a new language along with its vocabulary.
The quality of teaching and the environment in which a person is trying to learn a new language also plays a vital role in how long it takes to learn the Arabic language.
Research was done by a department of the United States FSI (Foreign Service Institute), to determine the difficulty of the Arabic language based on the standard period taken to learn Arabic by an average English speaker.
They ranked Arabic among the Group 4 languages. People learning Group 4 languages usually take up to seven hundred and twenty hours or more to reach a basic fluency level.
Group 1 languages like Spanish, French and other European languages can be learned to a great extent in almost four-hundred and eighty hours.
Comparing Group 1 and Group 4 languages, Arabic takes almost two-hundred and forty extra hours. According to this research, Arabic is considered a complex language as it takes a lot more time than the other European languages.
Now that we are reaching the end, let’s look at some special features of the Arabic language which might contribute to the difficulty level of the Arabic language
Arabic is spoken by almost four hundred million people around the world. But not everyone knows about the grammatical features of the Arabic language. This is because there is a significant difference between written Arabic, also called literary Arabic and the dialects.
Knowing the grammar is not necessary at all if you want to speak Arabic in daily life only. But by understanding the grammar of Arabic, one can avoid many bad linguistic habits. It is also an excellent place to start knowing about sentence structure.
Some sounds in the Arabic language are absent in English and many other European languages. There are 3 of these unknown sounds.
- The first of these three sounds are the “qu.” It appears in the letter ق. This sound comes almost from the base of the throat.
- The second sound is “ai” in the letter ع. This sound is correctly produced by the central part of the throat.
- The third sound is “he,” as in the letter ح. It is a sound that is usually produced by a person after they eat something cold, like mentos. This sound is made from the start of the throat.
Once you have learned all these quirks and rare sounds in the Arabic language, speaking Arabic words will not be a problem for you.
Although the Arabic language contains only twenty-eight alphabets, most of these alphabets change their form according to the sentence. This property of the Arabic alphabet makes it a bit confusing compared to other languages.
Most Effective Way
A proper way should be followed for a person to learn Arabic if one wants to achieve perfection in the Arabic language or any other language.
The method that we are just about to enlighten you about is a proven worldwide system and thus a real game changer. Any language can be learned through this four steps process. These steps are followed by every language learning institution, including IELTS, TOEFL classes, and many other language courses.
If a person longs to learn a language, the first thing they should do is simply listen to that language carefully. In this case, one must carefully listen to the Arabic language and try to comprehend it best according to their understanding.
You can listen to the news on television in Arabic. Or any other movie in Arabic and try to understand the meanings of the words yourself. This is the fastest way to know a lot about any language.
The second step is to start reading the literature on the Arabic language. If you are reading prose like novels and essays or any other thing, you will come to know about the essential articles of the Arabic language.
Moreover, if you read romantic poetry, many similar words will appear repeatedly, and one can at least assume the meanings of many tricky words. You may be guessing the correct meaning of the word, and once you learn to read like this, you can never unlearn it.
The third step in learning Arabic is translating sentences or words wherever you hear. Or you can watch many things along with subtitles to know what each term means. This is also a good and entertaining way to learn Arabic.
Speaking And Writing
The fourth and final step in this process is to speak and write Arabic.
Communicating with the locals in their language is the fastest way to learn Arabic. They will probably give you new and easy things to know too. Arabs are very kind-hearted and generous. So they won’t mock you for doing so; instead, they will encourage you.
This is a four-step proven system of success that is followed by everyone worldwide when it comes to learning a new language.
Is It Worth Learning Arabic?
Yes, it is. Arabic is a high-demand language which can be proven by the increasing hiring/employment rate of US government agencies for fluent Arabic speakers. Moreover, many industries are set up in Gulf countries where it is impossible to communicate in languages other than Arabic.
Thus learning Arabic will get you an excellent job, a leg up in international relations, and a catchy thing to add to your portfolio.
You can learn about most of the dialects of the Arabic language on the Ling App. On the Ling app, we are trying to provide you with information that is close to the Arabic culture and language. Try making Arabic food and learning the useful Arabic greetings to get closer to the Arabs.