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Learning to Speak Arabic: What to Study?

By Yann, published on 23/03/2019 We Love Prof > Languages > Arabic > How to Study Arabic

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardour and attended to with diligence.” – Abigail Adams

Learning Arabic, like any other language, often happens in the same way if you learn in a school. You’ll learn some words, practise reading and writing, and it can be painfully dull at times.

There are 22 different Arabic-speaking countries who are also members of the Arabic league.

In 2014, the Arab League covered 13,500,000km² and is home to 378 million Arabic speakers.

What better place to learn how to speak in Arabic?

In this article, we’re going to look at what linguistic immersion is, how you can use it to learn a language, how immersion aids memory and the benefits of learning a language abroad through immersion.

What Is Linguistic Immersion?

Linguistic and cultural immersion is when you live in an environment where you have to you operate in the foreign language.

Where can you learn Arabic? If you live with a host family, you can experience your surroundings like the locals. (Source: Pexels)

Language learning is much easier when you’re surrounded by the language. By hearing the Arabic grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, it’ll become second nature to you. This can help a lot since the Arabic alphabet isn’t the same as our own. Additionally, you’ll learn the colloquial version of the language as it’s spoken where you are. Additionally, you’ll need to learn modern standard Arabic if you want to be able to speak with Arabic speakers all over the world.

Whether you’re with a host family, studying in a language school, or part of an exchange programme, you can improve your language skills.

When it comes to learning Arabic, as well as any other language, you need to learn more about the culture, local customs, religious practices, family life, tradition, etc.

Immersion allows you to progress quickly since you’ll regularly hear and internalise the foreign language. While the guttural sounds of this Semitic language might sound odd at first, you’ll soon get the hang of the pronunciation.

In fact, by speaking Arabic every day with private tutors, a host family, or in intensive classes, you can learn the language in a fun and interesting way.

You can get the hang of the dialect of Arabic spoken where you are, be it Moroccan Arabic (Darija), Tunisian Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, with each having distinct qualities.

What better way to get to grips with the language?

You won’t become bilingual in just a month, but it is a great way to learn and develop language skills.

Obviously, you’ll need to avoid English speakers.

Learning Arabic through Immersion

Psychological studies have shown that immersion is a more effective way to learn a language than traditional teaching. This means it’s better to absorb the language than trying to learn it off by heart.

Why should you learn Arabic? Immersion can also help you to make friends. (Source: StockSnap)

You just need to see how a baby learns its mother tongue. Before the age of 1, it’s unlikely that they’ll speak, but they’ll understand a whole lot. This is the first stage of language acquisition.

This is when a child will develop their social identity. This means that the child will learn its first words, start understanding how their language is pronounced, and develop their comprehension of words.

Once they’re ready, the child will start producing the language. By primary school, a child is supposed to learn around 6,000 words and by the time they’re an adult, between 25,000 and 40,000.

Immersing yourself in the Arabic-speaking world is a way to replicate this way of learning a language. Thus, immersion is a natural way to learn Arabic vocabulary, even if you have no knowledge of how to read or write the language.

Learning Arabic at school takes a lot longer because learning vocabulary, how to read, and getting started with grammar can be dry and dull.

In Arabic classes, you can learn how to pronounce each letter and phonetic transcription. Then, you can improve your understanding of written Arabic.

By staying with a host family, you’ll see the language less as something you study in class and something fun that you use to communicate with people.

Life in Arabic-speaking countries can be very different from our own. Immersion can also help you learn about this and improve your language acquisition.

It’s much easier to learn everyday expressions, read Arabic, and master a certain dialect of Arabic through immersion than it is in class.

It’s much harder to learn how to speak Arabic fluently at university in the UK. You should consider studying at a university in an Arabic-speaking country.

Aiding Memory Through Arabic Immersion

Whether you spend time in North Africa, Lebanon, or the Persian Gulf, you’ll notice that Arabic isn’t just a language that you learn but rather a tool for communication.

How can you learn to speak Arabic? You’ll need to save your vocabulary like storing data on a hard disk. (Source: 422737)

You can gain fluency and speak Arabic like a native. Going to an Arabic-speaking country will help you memorise words more easily.

This won’t be like learning how to speak Arabic in a class where you’ll be repeating back grammatical rules, new vocabulary, or expressions like a parrot. That said, a private tutor can help you learn the nuances of the Arabic language.

Can you really learn how to speak a language by just practising just a few hours a week?

By speaking with locals in any language, repeating what you hear, and reacting to the world around you, anyone can learn any language.

It’s true that this can take some time, though. After a few months, you might even end up dreaming in Arabic.

This is when you get to the point where you’re no longer translating words in your head, but really expressing yourself in the language.

When you get Arabic lessons in the UK, your brain won’t be as stimulated for the rest of the day. By travelling to where the language is spoken, you’ll be engaged in the language and culture almost every minute of the day.

The Other Benefits of Learning Arabic Abroad

We’ve mentioned several benefits to learning Arabic through immersion rather than in a class in the UK.

Where is Arabic spoken? You can learn Arabic while enjoying local specialities. (Source: Neverlan)

From a personal point of view, living in the target country will help you to get a better understanding of different cultures and the language.

Travelling broadens the mind, doesn’t it?

This is an opportunity to learn idiomatic Arabic expressions, understand music, film, and videos.

Would you like to watch Al-Jazeera without subtitles?

Learning through immersion also gives you a regular opportunity to practise your Arabic.

Furthermore, a language acquired through immersion stays with you longer than a language learnt in class because you have a series of memories and experiences associated with it.

Depending on what you do while you’re there, you could also learn a specialised vocabulary in a particular field.

You might learn business, tourism, or scientific vocabulary.

The final advantage is that Arabic will look great on your CV.

A lot of employers are looking for employees with language skills and will pay highly for them. Arabic to English translators are also in high demand.

Learning Arabic can lay the foundation for your future career!

Some countries in the Arab League, especially the United Arab Emirates, recruit a lot of Arabic speakers to play a huge role in international business.

This means there are a lot of jobs going for those who speak Arabic in engineering, communication, web technologies, etc.

Those who travel to Dubai, for example, will find getting a job much easier thanks to their language skills. In terms of salaries, the wages in the UAE are very high!

If you’re interested in learning how to speak Arabic, then private tutorials are a great option. On Superprof, you can get one on one private tutorials, online tutorials, or group tutorials.

Private tutorials are the most effective and also the most costly. This is because your tutor will tailor the lessons to you, your strengths and weaknesses, and your preferred learning style. This means you’ll get a bespoke service from them.

Online tutorials are similar but are cheaper because the tutor doesn’t have to factor the cost of travelling to you into their rates. They’ll deliver their private tutorials via webcam using a programme such as Skype.

Finally, group tutorials have the advantage of being the cheapest per hour. This is because the hourly rate is shared by all the students in attendance. However, this also means that you won’t get the same amount of attention from the tutor and the class won’t be designed with just you in mind.

Fortunately for you, a lot of the tutors on Superprof offer the first hour of tuition for free so you can see how they teach and whether or not you get along!


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