If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’ve probably spent some time trawling the Internet, sorting through all the options for learning Arabic. And there are dozens of choices: how are you supposed to choose what’s right for you? In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the options you’ll encounter in your quest to find the best online Arabic course. You’ll learn how each of these courses is unique, how they are structured, and their pros and cons.

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  • Arab Academy

This is a venerable school in the field of online Arabic education. Launched in 1997, Arab Academy has helped thousands of individuals learn Arabic and have collaborated with various international schools and corporations to encourage conversation and trade with Arab neighbors and businesses. Students can choose to learn Modern Standard Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, or Islamic Arabic. And if you happen to live in Cairo, there are immersion programs you can join. Classes for children and teens are available as well.

Students will benefit from Arab Academy’s decades of experience. Their courses are highly structured and can teach you no matter your skill level. Absolute beginners are welcome, and dedicated students will be pleased to know that their courses meet several certifications, including for GCSEs and International Baccalaureate. Instruction includes one-on-one online lessons with an expert Arabic teacher, so students can expect to become fluent in conversation fairly quickly.

However, you will have to pay dearly for Arab Academy’s expertise. Courses start around $69 a month if you sign up for their semi-annual package, and goes up to $99 a month if you want to study month by month. It’s costly in time, too. Their Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) program involves ten courses, with each taking about 80 hours of study, so be prepared to spend a lot of time studying. However, they offer a free lesson so you can see if Arab Academy is suitable for you.

  • Duolingo Arabic

Duolingo is a household name for its huge variety of languages, so taking a peek at their Arabic option is a no-brainer. It’s easy to see the appeal: it’s free! Just sign up on your phone or computer, and off you go. Their lessons are short and quick, and their famous game-like teaching style makes it fun to learn and practice.

But be aware of Duolingo’s limitations before you take the plunge. First of all, they offer only MSA. This is fine for a general overview of Arabic, but by not learning a dialect of Arabic, you’ll be limiting yourself conversationally and missing out on a lot of the culture that makes learning Arabic so rewarding. And of course, not having an instructor or other students to practice talking with is far from ideal.

Additionally, Duolingo lacks information on how the Arabic language works. You won’t learn much about how grammar and spelling work in Arabic. In particular, I found their overview of the Arabic alphabet to be inadequate. Verdict: if you want to learn a little Arabic without spending a dime, Duolingo is a fun way to do so, but if you’re serious about learning Arabic, you need a course with an instructor to provide real, human feedback.

  • ArabicOnline

ArabicOnline has an interesting history. The European Union funded its startup to encourage people from all linguistic backgrounds to learn Arabic. Since their start in 2009, they have partnered with corporations and governments to bridge cultural gaps and help thousands learn about Arabic history and customs as well as the language.

ArabicOnline teaches only MSA, which is too bad, but their courses cover every skill level and focus on bridging cultural gaps. Students can expect a dose of Arabic history and culture with their grammar and vocabulary. Furthermore, ArabicOnline meets the requirements of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Graduates receive neat certification badges to show off on their CVs.

Prices are not too steep, at around $99 a year. There are lots of free resources on their website, and you can expect their courses to meet the latest pedagogical standards. However, their website is light on details on what to expect. There appear to be no instructors: lessons are delivered through flash cards, audio files, programs, and the like.  There is no mention of one-on-one or group instruction, or any options to practice with other students. You should not expect your conversational skills to develop fully in such an environment.

  • Nasma of New York

Why choose to study Arabic with Nasma? Here are some of the things that separate us from the other options.

First, Nasma specializes in teaching Levantine Arabic. MSA is fine to learn if you intend to read newspapers or watch newscasts, but it does not prepare you well for conversation. To truly understand a language, and the culture behind that language, you must be able to converse in it. Levantine Arabic is the dialect of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine, but is widely understood throughout the Arab world. To that end, Levantine Arabic is a great dialect to learn for people who intend to make a connection with Arabic speakers.

Second, Nasma’s dedication to personal instruction. I pride myself on being always available to my students. If something doesn’t make sense to you, there are many ways to get the answer you need. There are weekly Q&A sessions when all the students can ask their questions and get their answers right away. If you can’t wait that long, I can answer any questions on our private Facebook group or by email, sometimes even within an hour. I greatly enjoy building a relationship with my students, so I encourage them all to message me with any questions they have. If a student is having a tough time, I’ll make additional videos to help them (and later students who have the same problem).

And finally, there’s our tried and tested curriculum. I designed our curriculum after many years of teaching Arabic online and in person. I also wrote the Arabic textbooks used in our courses, so I have a personal stake in their quality. But curricula should not be set in stone, and it is my job to adjust to meet my students’ goals and needs.

Our Levantine masterclass starts at $9.97 a month. Our premium option, at $24.97 a month, includes numerous perks to help you learn. If you’re still unsure, we are offering a 14-day free trial so you can test the waters. Or you can check out our Instagram page or YouTube channel for free Arabic tips.

So, Is There a “Best” Online Arabic Course?

This list is just a small sampling of online Arabic resources; there are plenty of other resources for learning Arabic online, for free and otherwise. You have to weigh the pros and cons yourself to find what’s right for you. Duolingo is great if you don’t want to spend money; Arab Academy is great for their detailed, thorough instruction; ArabicOnline is great if for those who like teaching themselves. And of course, Nasma offers personalized instruction in the Levantine dialect, which is not an option in the other entries on this list. You have to choose the best online Arabic course that will fit your needs, but we hope you’ll visit the rest of our website and see what Nasma has to give you.