How to Speak Arabic Like a Local

arabic proverbsDo you want to know more Arabic than just ‘Pass the baklava?’ To become fluent in Arabic,  get yourself immersed in the language. There are a few methods you can use to learn how to speak Arabic like a local. This includes practice, practice and practice. Watching television shows where they speak Arabic and having conversations with people you know that know the language won’t hurt either. With careful practice and time, you will speak Arabic with proficiency.

Here is a course on basic Arabic for people with no previous Arabic knowledge that can reinforce the lessons you do on your own.

As you get started remember that even native Arabic speakers are confounded regularly with rules of regional dialects and grammar. Just like learning any foreign language, it takes a lot of patience and hard work to fluently speak Arabic. If you don’t live in a country that speaks Arabic, you will need to make even more of an effort by setting aside time to speak Arabic each day. Think of Arabic like a muscle: use it or lose it. No matter how you go about learning Arabic, however, remember to enjoy the learning process.

Which One?

Decide if you want to learn the modern standard version of Arabic or the classical version. If you are studying for the purposes of religion, classical is the way to go. As you make progress, the classical version helps you pick up the standard version which is more formal. On the other hand, learn the modern version if you want to learn the language for conversational reasons. Later, you can learn a more informal dialect locally spoken.

You Gotta Want It

Before you will be able to speak Arabic well, basically you gotta want it. You must truly want to learn the language and think of it as a wonderful challenge rather than a task you dread. Arabic is complex and to speak this like a native, you will need to know punctuation spelling, grammar and sentence structure. Stay motivated and keep yourself excited about learning a new language such as this one. Take breaks when you need to and focus on Arabic language areas you love learning. Find people to study with to help motivate you.

3 Letters a Day

Learn the different forms of the Arabic alphabet by practicing for an hour a day. If you learn three letters daily it will take you less than fourteen days to know the entire Arabic alphabet. There are various forms for each letter (final, medial and initial) and practicing how to write each one comes with the territory. Pronounce letters out loud as you are writing them. After you learn some letters, you can write these out in groups of 3, dropping the first and adding another as you go along. Right from the start, learning the alphabet prepares you for reading Arabic like an expert.  Here is a course about writing Arabic calligraphy that you might be interested in.  This course teaches you how to learn the Diwani, Thuluth and Naskh scripts from scratch.

Make Friends

Make friends with people who speak Arabic. You might want to make friends doing activities you enjoy such as taking Arabic cooking lessons or a musical group. After all, isn’t it easier to make friends with folks who like the same things you do? If you can find Arabic speakers who want to learn English that would be a win-win situation. This way, you won’t feel as if you are just using them to learn a language. Check to see if there are public speaking groups in Arabic that exist in your area as well. This way, you not only learn Arabic, you might also be able to overcome your fear of public speaking in the process as well!

Take a Course!

Taking a course on Arabic language is a great way to learn the language basics. Courses go on for a few weeks to a few months in varied formats. You will learn basic sentence structure and the roots of verbs, as well as a large Arabic vocabulary. Many courses give students a strong foundation in the language which they can build upon later. Also, here is a course on advanced Arabic for those who want their proficiency upgraded.

Stop Thinking in English!

You know how they say you are only fluent in a language when you start ‘thinking’ in it? Well, once you have surrounded yourself with resources in Arabic and use these each and every day, you might want to stop thinking in English and begin thinking in Arabic. In early learning stages, people think of words they want to say in their own language, translate this into Arabic in their heads then speak. This is mentally exhausting, consumes a lot of time and comes out incorrect a lot of times.  Start thinking in Arabic and you will be surprised how automatic your responses become such as saying, ‘Fine, thanks,’ when someone asks inquires how you are in Arabic.

Books Help

Many Arabic language students find that their ability to read is a bit higher than their ability to speak. Primarily, this is due to the fact that the reader is able to control the flow speed of the words, with necessary pauses needed for processing new phrases or words. Select stuff you like and be sure you have a dictionary beside you. Arabic movies are widely available as well for those who do not enjoy reading. Since movies allow viewers to gain a feel for the natural flow and tone of the conversation, they serve a similar purpose. Movies, just like books, can be ‘paused’ as you consult your dictionary.

Sharpen Your Ears

The moment you begin conversing with a native Arabic speaker, listen well to the way they pronounce the words. When they respond, listen to their word order. From each conversation, collect as many useful phrases as you can. If you note that they are speaking much too fast or if you are not having an easy time understanding what they say, you can politely ask them to speak a bit slower. Many native Arabic speakers will admit that they speak at a rate that is quite rapid for a beginner. No matter what topics come up in the conversation, ask questions. Do your best to quickly respond to questions asked of you as well, without being worried about answers being grammatically correct in the beginning.

Find Opportunities

Find opportunities to speak Arabic. You can take a vacation to a country that speaks this language on a regular basis. To thoroughly learn a language, you can even decide to move to the country and find work locally where you will need to speak Arabic. For example, you can do volunteer work for tourists that speak English and tour them around an Arab-speaking country, as you will be forced to speak to some of the locals along the tours. You can also work at the airport. Regularly attend Arabic classes or join a group that speaks to each other in this language. Think in Arabic for a minimum of half an hour per day. When taking a shower, talk to yourself in Arabic or sing Arabic songs. Here is an article on 88 Arabic Proverbs that gives you an insight on what Arabic culture is all about.

Anyone Up for a Movie?

Immersing yourself in Arabic will help you learn the language more thoroughly. You shouldn’t focus on improving just your ability to speak. Skills in reading, listening, speaking and writing do go hand in hand. Use an Arabic-English dictionary. Try reading Arabic magazines, newspapers and watching Arabic news each and every day. It might even be easier to follow new broadcasts as news casters have undergone training to speak very clearly. There are online radio stations in Arabic as well, which you might want to listen to. Watch Arabic films with subtitles in English. Repeat the phrases and memorize the useful ones. Watching movies or shows on TV can help improve your skills of comprehension as well.

Set Goals

Set a Goal. Do you want to give yourself six months to learning Arabic? The time frame is really up to you. Plan to take a test for proficiency at the end of the time frame you set for yourself. The thing is, when you have goals, you know what vocabulary areas you will need to focus on.

Practice

Approaching native Arabic speakers and making attempts to have conversations with them is sometimes scary for people still in the process of learning the lingo. Practice is really the most important a student of Arabic can do for their speaking ability to be improved. You might fear accidentally saying something you didn’t mean to or being made fun of. This sort of fear is something you need to overcome if you truly want to make real improvements. One idea is to look for a person with a smiling, friendly face and begin by telling them a greeting in Arabic. Ask if they can help you with a little bit of practice conversation.

Pronunciation

Listen and repeat words you hear in movies to help you practice pronouncing words. If an Arabic word is used and this is something you find hard to pronounce, you can keep listening until you absolutely ‘get it.’

Vocabulary and Grammar Techniques

Building vocabulary and grammar might just be the most relaxing part of learning Arabic, since you can read about whatever your interests happen to be. It can be a magazine on cooking or sports, for example. Widely reading helps you learn Arabic phrases and words that will help you become fluent. Here are basic phrases to get you started.

Basic Phrases

  • Thank You – Shukran
  • We are honored – Tasharrafnaa
  • Where are you from? Min aina anta?
  • Where is the hotel? Aina al-funduq
  • Where is the airport? Aina almataar
  • Where is the airport? Aina almataar?
  • I don’t eat pork – Laa aakulu laham al-khunzeer
  • I want to eat – Ureedu an aakul
  • Goodby: Ma salaama
  • Please: Min fudluk

Numbers and Colors

  • Aharah – 10
  • Tissaa – 9
  • Thama aneeya -8
  • Sabaa -7
  • Settah – 6
  • Kumsah – 5
  • Arba – 4
  • Thalatha -3
  • Itnain -2
  • Wahid – 1
  • Siffr – 0
  • Akhdar – green
  • Aswad – Black
  • Banafsaji/Urjuwan – purple
  • Jauzi/ Buni – brown
  • Azrak – blue
  • Ahmar – red

Family

  • Bint – Daughter
  • Ibn – Son
  • Akht – Sister
  • Akh – Brother
  • Umm – Mother
  • Ab – Father
  • Jaddah – Grandmother
  • Jadd – Grandfather

Weekdays

  • Al sabat – Saturday
  • Al juma – Friday
  • Al Khamees – Thursday
  • Al arba – Wednesday
  • Al thalatha – Tuesday
  • Al ithnain – Monday
  • Al ahad – Sunday

Food

  • Samak – fish
  • Dajaa – chicken
  • Qahwa – coffee
  • Haleeb – milk
  • Ashaa – dinner
  • Gadaa – lunch
  • Iftar – breakfast

Hope this helps! Here is a course called Arabic Language for Beginners that teaches you all the basics!