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5 Effective Tips to Jumpstart Your Arabic Studying

5 Effective Tips to Jumpstart Your Arabic Studying

I’m not going to sugarcoat anything here. Arabic is a difficult language to learn. In fact it was ranked in the most difficult category of foreign languages by the US Foreign Service Institute, alongside other notoriously difficult languages like Mandarin and Japanese.

If you’re new to Arabic it’s going to take consistent and concerted effort to start using the language fluently. However this fact shouldn’t discourage you. While learning Arabic is hard, it’s far from impossible.

In this post we outline five practical tips you can use to take some of the edge off of learning Arabic. Follow these pointers to learn the language in a way that is efficient and effective!

Pratice

1. Limit yourself to no English when you practice

The idea here is that when you practice with native Arabic speakers you do your best to refrain from using any English. This is generally harder the less Arabic you know, but if you can manage to stick to this rule, you’ll reap some huge rewards.

If you commit to a no English practice session it’s not going to be easy. Most likely there will be some frustrating if not painstakingly difficult moments where you either have trouble understanding the person you’re talking to, or you can’t say what you want to say.

It’s precisely in these moments that your Arabic learning muscles are built up to capacity. The process really isn’t all that different from working out in the gym. Just replace the physical burn of lifting weights for the mental burn of thinking in Arabic. In the end if there’s no pain there’s no gain!

Obviously this no English rule doesn’t have to be written in stone. There are times when it’s more beneficial to break out of the Arabic box and have something explained in your native English. However this should definitely be the exception rather than the status quo.

Practice Speaking

2. Have set times to practice speaking throughout the week

Now that we discussed a good way to practice speaking, let’s delve a bit into when to speak. One of the best commitments you can keep while learning Arabic is to set aside specific times to practice speaking the language on a weekly basis.

Ideally these speaking sessions are on set days at specific times and form part of your weekly routine. If you don’t make it a point to set aside specific practice times you run the risk of your Arabic practice falling through the cracks of your busy schedule. I recommend writing down your practice times on a sheet of paper and putting it somewhere like on your bathroom. You could also input the times into your phone and set an alarm.

The point is to remind yourself of your commitment everyday so that it doesn’t fall by the wayside.

Look up Greek vocabulary

3. Get picky about Arabic vocabulary

Whether you practice with a podcast, a friend at a coffee shop, or an Arabic teacher you’re going to run into a flood of new and unfamiliar Arabic vocabulary. Despite your best efforts it’s unlikely that you will be able to pin down every new word or phrase you hear and study it later.

Thus you should pick and choose which new words you focus on. The defining quality of each new Arabic word you learn should be its practicality. The more useful a word or phrase is to you in a conversation, the more important it is that you learn it.

Don’t feel like you have to cram the entirety of the Arabic lexicon down your throat. Take it one step at a time: a few practical words here, some more there. Before you know it you’ll see your vocabulary improve.

Write and Practice Short Monologues

4. Write and practice short monologues

This tip can be a lot fun. Begin by selecting a topic you enjoy discussing. Then simply write out a short monologue or “speech” on the subject in Arabic.

The first thing you’ll notice while doing this will likely be the holes in your Arabic grammar and vocabulary. I have found through my own experience that when I try to write out my thoughts in a foreign language I inevitably hit roadblocks. I think of a word I don’t know or an idea I simply don’t know to express yet.

This is great because these holes are the exact areas where you should focus your studies. You can bring up these problem areas in your next lesson or browse through your favorite Arabic course in order to find the answer.

The constant process of finding these language holes and filling them is what keep you moving along the path to fluency.

Once you finish your short text, it’s a great idea to practice reciting it or even memorizing it. The memorization will help you internalize the new grammar and vocabulary you learned. Reciting it will get your tongue and mouth get used to the sounds of Arabic.

Wondering

5. Keep an update list of what you want to learn

Throughout your studies you should always have a sort of Arabic “shopping-list”. As you practice and study the language you will most likely come across things you’d like to be able to say but don’t know how to yet (especially if you follow our previous tip). Jot this wishlist down.

It’s one thing to learn the vocabulary you pick up via a course or podcast (both of which are great!), it’s a bit different when your vocabulary gets personal. Learn the words that matter to you either because they’re practical (like we talked about in tip 3), or because you simply find them interesting. The more relevant the vocabulary the more likely you are to retain it.

6. Final thoughts

Arabic is regarded by many to be one of the most difficult foreign languages for native English speakers to learn. While there’s definitely some truth to that, it’s important to remember that the way you study and engage with a language greatly affects how quickly or effectively you learn it.

While we’re not promising linguistic alchemy here, we have introduced you to some practical pointers you can use to boost your Arabic studies. Happy learning!

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