Arabic, which is the native tongue of more than 200 million people worldwide, ranks 6th among the major languages of the world. Arabic is the official language of Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen as well as one of the six official languages of the United Nations. In addition, it is widely spoken in countries such as Somalia and is the language of the holy writings of Muslims throughout the world.
Arabic is at least 1,500 years old. Classical Arabic originated in the sixth century, but earlier versions of the language existed, including the Safaitic dialect, an old Arabic dialect used by the pre-Islamic nomadic inhabitants of the Syro-Arabian desert.
Arabic is descended from a language known in the literature as Proto-Semitic. This relationship places Arabic firmly in the Afro-Asiatic group of world languages. Going further into the relationship between Arabic and the other Semitic languages, Modern Arabic is considered to be part of the Arabo-Canaanite sub-branch of the central group of the Western Semitic languages.
Ya Rab is regarded as the Father of the Arabic Language. The justification for this is the simple fact that he is counted amongst the oldest speakers of the Arabic language. He has also written various literary notes and works in Arabic. This again supports the fact that he was probably the first native Arabic speaker.
Easiest ways to learn Arabic:
- Start with the basics
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to learn Arabic by transcribing words instead of learning the Arabic alphabet first. Think about how we learned English back in school. First, you learn your letters, then you form those letters into words, then you learn how to form sentences, and then you learn more about proper syntax and grammar. Taking shortcuts will only slow you down.
- Learn to use the Arabic dictionary
This task is not as easy as it sounds. In an Arabic dictionary, words are generally organized around three-letter roots. To look up a word, you need to know what the root is and what letter the root starts with – which is not necessarily the first letter in the word. Using the dictionary takes practice, but the sooner you learn it the better. It will make the entire process easier and more enjoyable.
- Immerse yourself in study and practice
This is a critical step in learning any language, but doubly so when learning Arabic. The best way to learn a new word is to see it, hear it, write it and speak it, so combine those activities as much as you can.
One way for beginners to practice a foreign language is to watch children’s television programs in that language. The vocabulary is simpler, and the educational nature of those programs can be extremely helpful to new students of any age. As you gain proficiency, another tactic is to watch movies in a foreign language with English subtitles on. That way you gain a better “ear” for listening, and the subtitles give you the translation for what you’re hearing. Eventually, you’ll be able to switch off the subtitles and still understand what is being said.
- Speak the language
Seeing and hearing isn’t enough, however. It’s critical that you converse in Arabic with other people. It can be difficult to find a conversational partner if you’re not acquainted with native Arabic speakers. Thankfully, modern technology can do a lot to solve that problem.
There are many groups for students of Arabic online, and it’s become much easier to find tutors who will coach you and help you in your studies. Take advantage of these resources. The more you practice, the faster you will learn.
- Practice listening
Improving one’s listening skills is not easy, and in order to improve this skill, not only do you need to develop a wealth of vocabulary knowledge, you also have to develop your familiarity with the sounds of the target language – and in order to develop that familiarity, you need to listen to the target language regularly.
- Listen to Arabic music.
Listening to Arabic music is a great way to immerse yourself in the language as well as become more familiar with common words and phrases. The typically repetitive nature of song lyrics reinforces the words and phrases in your mind.
Major music streaming services typically have an Arabic channel or Arabic playlists. Check with your favorite streaming service to find out what’s available.
If you happen upon an artist that you like, search them online. You may be able to download their albums or watch music videos for some of the songs you like.