A Month of Learning Arabic

The word "Arabic" in Arabic

The word “Arabic” written in Arabic. Pronounced “al-arabiyya”.

There are 2 languages that I’d like to know how to speak, because I think they’re likely to be relevant in the future:

Mandarin: Because China is going to take over the world.
Arabic: Because of the conflicts between the Arab world & the West.

Last month I decided to try to learn as much Arabic as I could during the month. I did it by:

  • Using MadinahArabic.com (not Standard Arabic, and it has a few errors, but it’s worthwhile for learning the alphabet)
  • Writing & reciting the alphabet over & over.
  • Using flash cards for drilling words & phrases into my brain
  • Attending a local language-learning group from Meetup.com
  • Hanging out with an Arabic friend
  • Hiring a guy in Cairo to coach me over Skype (hired him on oDesk)
  • Listening to podcasts from iTunes (didn’t find any great ones)
  • Watching YouTube videos.  Maha has a good channel for learning Arabic.

The results:

  • I can read / write / speak the alphabet
  • When writing I can connect most letters (a lot of Arabic letters change shape significantly depending on where they are in a word, and which other letters they’re connected to)
  • I can speak & understand some simple words & phrases
  • I am not fluent (of course)
  • Whenever I saw Arabic writing, the first thing that used to come to my mind was “terrorism”.  Now I think “Hey I wonder if I can sound that out and recognize any words?”

Although I’d certainly like to become more fluent in Arabic, I’m not going to continue for now due to the time required, and the limited ability that I have to immerse myself in Arabic (I think immersion would be a big help).

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