So You Want to Learn Arabic?

You’ve decided to learn Arabic. And now you’re faced with the question of which kind of Arabic? Which dialect should you learn first? Here’s a quick guide to the different types of Arabic to help you choose one or two that fit your goals.

1 – Classical Arabic: The language of the Qura’an and other ancient texts. Ideal for those interested in either the literary or religious value of ancient texts. Not recommended if your goal is conversational Arabic.

2 – Modern Standard Arabic: Formal Arabic language that is used mainly in academic written language, broadcast, newspapers, and other formal outlets/occasions. Although this form of Arabic is taught in colleges and universities, I don’t recommend it for beginners because of its limited use for conversational Arabic. It’s not spoken daily by native speakers unless in a formal event/speech. It is a good idea, however, to start learning it once you’ve reached an intermediate level in Arabic.

3 – Colloquial Arabic: Arabic spoken daily by native Arabic language speakers. There are different dialects based on country or region. Ideal for beginners and those interested in conversational Arabic. More on the different dialects in an upcoming post.

You don’t need to learn all three different types of Arabic and all the dialects at once. Even native speakers take years to learn all three. Start with a focus and branch out into other dialects and forms of Arabic.

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