6 Tips & Resources to Help You Get Started with Learning Arabic

6 Tips & Resources to Help You Get Started with Learning Arabic

Welcome to your journey of learning Levantine Arabic! Whether you’re fascinated by the rich cultures of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine, or you’re looking to enhance your career opportunities, this blog will guide you through the essential steps to get started. Levantine Arabic is not only a key to understanding a vibrant region, but also a gateway to new friendships, delicious cuisines, and unique experiences. Let’s dive into the plan that will set you on the right path. Below is my 6 step plan, tips, and resources that will help you get started on this journey.

Step 1: Understanding Levantine Arabic

The most common question I get asked: which dialect I should learn؟ I have covered this question in a previous post before. You can check it out here. For now let’s focus on learning Levantine Arabic.

What is Levantine Arabic? Levantine Arabic, a colloquial dialect, is widely spoken in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. Unlike Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), which is used in formal writing and speech across the Arab world, Levantine Arabic is the everyday spoken language of these countries. It varies slightly from region to region, but learning one variant will enable you to communicate effectively across the Levant.

Why Learn Levantine Arabic?

  • Practical Benefits: Communicate with millions of native speakers and enjoy a deeper connection when traveling.
  • Cultural Enrichment: Understand Levantine media, music, literature, and cinema.
  • Professional Advantages: Open up career opportunities in international relations, business, and more.

Step 2: Getting Started with the Basics

Learning the Alphabet and Pronunciation

This step is entirely optional! No you do not need to learn how to read or write if you want to learn Levantine Arabic. And this is why I chose to write my textbooks in Arabic script and phonetics. So whether you know how to read or not, you can use our textbooks.

  • Arabic Alphabet: Start with apps like “Alif Baa” or websites like Madinah Arabic to learn the Arabic script.
  • Pronunciation: Focus on mastering the unique sounds. YouTube channels like ArabicPod101 offer excellent pronunciation guides. Keep in mind both Madinah Arabic and ArabicPod101 teaches the Fusha or MSA, so I would just use them to learn the alphabets.

Basic Vocabulary and Phrases

  • Common Greetings: Learn essentials like “Marhaba” (Hello) and “Shukran” (Thank you).
  • Daily Vocabulary: Start with numbers, days of the week, and common nouns. Use flashcard apps like Anki for practice. I don’t recommend creating actual flashcards on paper. Many of my students get excited at the beginning and then after we finish Lesson 1 from Book 1, they realize that they have around 100 flashcards already. It’s not practical! I highly recommend to use an app on your phone to create your visual flashcards. This way you have them everywhere you go!

Step 3: Building Foundational Skills

Listening and Speaking Practice

  • Listening: Immerse yourself in the language through podcasts. Check out ‘Levantine Arabic, made Easier Podcast”. We have more than 40 episodes. The scripts are available on our website and translated in English and are written in both Arabic script and phonetics. You can also check our Instagram page. I share weekly short stories and I provide the script as well.
  • Speaking: Practice with language exchange partners via platforms like Tandem or HelloTalk. You can also work with our wonderful native instructors. Who by the way are real teachers!

Reading and Writing Practice

  • Reading: Begin with children’s books and simple articles available on websites like Arabic Readers.
  • Writing: Keep a journal in Arabic, start with short sentences, and gradually build complexity. I ask my students to write one sentence a day, anything about their day! Could be as simple as; I eat chicken today, I go to work, I speak with my friends etc..

Step 4: Immersive Learning Techniques

Engaging with Levantine Culture

  • Music and Media: Listen to popular Levantine artists like Fairuz and watch TV shows like “Bab al-Hara” to improve your listening skills. I love Nadine Labaki movies! Some are available on Netflix and Youtube!
  • Cuisine: Cook traditional dishes and learn the related vocabulary. Websites like Chef in Disguise offer recipes and cultural insights.

Connecting with the Levantine Community

  • Language Meetups: Join local or online Arabic language meetups through platforms like Meetup.
  • Social Media: Participate in Facebook groups or forums dedicated to Levantine Arabic learners. I’m not a big fan of WhatsApp groups because they can become very busy, with notifications coming in every minute. Eventually, you’ll end up muting the group and only checking it occasionally.

Step 5: Advanced Learning Strategies

Taking Language Classes

  • Formal Courses: Enroll in our online language courses. We offer group and private sessions.
  • Structured Learning: Benefits include systematic progression and feedback from experienced teachers.
  • Self pace learning: If you have a busy schedule or you are on a budget, consider checking out our Masterclass. We offer different memberships as low as $9/month. And the best part is a free trial!

Using Advanced Learning Resources

  • Textbooks: use our Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Textbooks. Learning through textbooks will give you structure and a clear plan towards the next step.
  • Grammar and Vocabulary: Focus on understanding complex grammar structures and expanding your vocabulary. Hire a professional instructor that understands the language. Not everyone that speaks Levantine Arabic is able to teach it. Be very selective. Learning Arabic is time consuming and a financial commitment!

Step 6: Staying Motivated and Consistent

Setting Realistic Goals

  • Short-term Goals: Set achievable goals like learning 10 new words a day or completing a chapter of a textbook each week.
  • Long-term Goals: Aim for conversational fluency and ability to construct longer sentences.

Overcoming Challenges

  • Consistency: Create a study schedule that fits your lifestyle. Consistency is key to language learning.
  • Motivation: Every word and conversation brings you closer to fluency. Stay curious and consistent—celebrate your progress. You’ve got this!

Creating a Study Routine

  • Daily Practice: Dedicate time each day to listening, speaking, reading, and writing (if writing is part of your plan).
  • Integration: Incorporate Arabic into your daily life, such as watching the news in Arabic or labeling household items.

I always tell my students don’t study Arabic once a week for an hour. Break that hour down and try to study frequently for a shorter period of time. Sometimes it’s only 10 minutes a day!

Embarking on the journey of learning Levantine Arabic is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. By understanding the basics, building foundational skills, immersing yourself in the culture, and staying motivated, you’ll find yourself making steady progress. Remember, the key is consistency and engagement with the language in a variety of forms. Start today, and enjoy every step of your language learning adventure!