How to Learn Arabic

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What motivates people to learn Arabic? People do it for various reasons such as religious purposes, marriage, friendship, their jobs, travel plans, or just as a hobby.

1. Where to Begin

Nowadays, there are a countless number of online resources for learning Arabic. Some are free, and others are costly. Before purchasing a program, try to learn some at home. Thus, it is advisable that you do a little online research before purchasing a course. This way you’ll find out what it’s like and you can thus avoid sinking money into an expensive course that you might lose interest in later.

First, you want to decide which form of Arabic you wish to learn: colloquial dialect or standard/classical. To start out, you might want to consider a version of classical language such as Modern Standard Arabic. Why? Because it is most commonly used in various forms of media such as the radio, TV news programs, newspapers, books, political speeches, etc. Once you get to know the language well, you can carry on conversations with Arabs.

Second, you must consider how you want to learn Arabic. There are home courses or classes. What is best for you depends on your motivation, time, cost of the course, availability to attend classes, or a number of distractions in your home. Textbook and audio courses are available but vary in quality according to their teaching methods. For great titles in various media, forms see the section below: Sources to Consider.

2. Choosing a Learning Method

Arabic courses can be quite expensive. If money is an issue, you might want to find as many free or low-cost learning sources as possible. Below are some suggestions:

  • Do online research. Enter the words, “learn Arabic free” in your favorite search engine. Look over various sites and see which one interests you most. Beware, some might say they’re free to lure you in, but will sell you their course after your free trial period is up.
  • Go to a library. Depending on how large your local library is, you may or may not find books that teach Arabic. If you do, browse through several books and check out the ones you like best.
  • Download an ebook. Finding an ebook on this subject may not be easy. If you decide to go this route, ebooks are usually free or inexpensive.
  • Buy a book. Online sites such as Google or Amazon offer many low-cost titles, under $30, with some new, some used. To avoid disappointments, see the rating of each book and read reviews on it. The same applies to audio cassette or CD courses.

For a listing of recommended titles, please see the section, Sources to Consider below.

If you feel a paid course might suit you best, you will want to check out several of them to see which one you like best. Once you find one you want to try, do some research and become familiar with their payment terms before enrolling.

If there are classes in your area, find out how much they cost and whether or not you can meet their schedule. The best feature of actually going to class is that you can ask your teacher for help.

3. Learning The Arabic Alphabet

The first place to start is to learn the Arabic alphabet. Among the things you need to know is that the alphabet contains 28 letters, it is written in cursive and is read from right to left. It is commonly referred to as abjad, a writing system that originally contained no vowels. Currently, it has two different forms of notating vowels: long vowels are symbolized with weak consonants (I (alif),  (waaw), and ȿ (yaa)). Using diacritical marks (also called harakat) is optional. They are denoted as short-vowel sounds and pronunciation cues.

Read here a basic description of the alphabet with audio samples of how each of the 28 letters is pronounced. It is best to familiarize yourself with the alphabet and then decide whether or not, you want to continue on.

4. Sources to Consider

Books / Audio Lessons:

Vistawide has researched the top ten most highly recommended books:

  • Mastering Arabic by Jane Wightwick and Mahmoud Gaafar, 370 pp with 2 CDs (2004).
  • Living Language Ultimate Arabic – Beginner-Intermediate, 535 pp with 8 CDs (2006).
  • The Arabic Alphabet – How to Read and Write It, by Nicholas Awde, Putros Samano, 95 pp (2000).
  • A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic, by Karen C. Ryding, 734 p (2005).
  • Modern Written Arabic -A Comprehensive Grammar, by Adrian Gully, Mike G. Carter, Elsaid Badawi, 80 p (1999).

For more publications, please visit

Online Sources:

If you prefer to learn online, visit Learn Languages Zone for the top five online Arabic courses, for example:

  • Rocket Arabic - 31 interactive audio lessons, 31 cultural lessons, interactive memory games, quizzes, and progress tracker to assess your improvement.   Download version $67, hard copy $299.95.
  • Tell Me More Arabic - 600 hours of learning, 5000 exercise, cultural dialogues, interactive videos, audio glossary of 2000 words, Arabic writing workbook, crossword puzzles, fill in the blanks, and other interesting activities. Three level Arabic course can be ordered for $299.
  • Rosetta Stone Arabic - Immersion Method of teaching in 5 levels with games and puzzles to help vocabulary, 6-month money back guarantee. Download version for all 3 levels $379.

For more online courses, please visit


Finally, there are numerous ebooks on learning Arabic, especially on Kindle. Below are five ebooks that received high ratings (4 stars out of 5) customer ratings on Amazon:

  • Learn Arabic in 7 Days by Dagny Tabbart, $1.99, (2015)
  • Arabic Stories for Language Learners by Lutfi Mansur and Hezi Brosh, $9.99, (2013)
  • Let’s Talk Arabic by Dr. Adam, $2.99, (2013)
  • Get Fluent in Arabic: Why Some People Attain Fluency Faster Than Others by Moniur Rohman, $2.99, (2014)
  • Arabic for Everyday Use by Yunus Agaskar, $1.93, (2013)

Simply do a search on Amazon to find and compare a vast listing of ebooks on learning Arabic.

How interested are you in learning to speak or write the Arabic language? Why do you want to learn Arabic? How important is it for you to know this language?   These are questions you must ask yourself before diving in.

Finally, determine the type of learning source you prefer to use: websites, books, classes, online courses, etc. Learn as much as possible through free or low-cost methods before enrolling in an expensive course. Set aside at least an hour a day to study at a place with the least amount of distractions.

See Also: How to Learn Italian

Assuming you make the savviest choices, and you don’t lose motivation, you just might learn Arabic in less time than you thought possible. Some courses promise you to learn Arabic in as little as seven days. Good luck.