I constantly get questions regarding how I am learning Arabic. I don’t mind it, believe me. I am writing this for the sole purpose of gathering my thoughts and collecting all information into one article.
Answers to the most common questions:
1. Is it hard?
It depends. Are you already familiar with the new characters and their sounds? If so, then starting off won’t be too hard. If you are not familiar with the new character and sound system, then yes it can be difficult. The grammar is also tricky. Have you also had trouble learning languages before? Are you willing to put in the time to study?
2. Do you teach yourself? Can I teach myself?
I do not teach myself, I attend classes at my university. Honestly, I would not recommend that you teach yourself. This is because you don’t have someone to correct your writing or speaking. Also, it is a lot more fun when you have colleagues to help you practice and have conversations with. But most importantly, you miss the cultural usage of the word. This is like someone in America using “innit”, a slang word common in the UK. It just doesn’t make sense.
There are many words in Arabic that tend to lose value when translated to English…the meaning is essentially “dumb-ed down” a degree. So it might sound like something we would use in English, but in Arabic it might be used differently. For example, “I study” can be said in different ways depending on what you what to say. There’s “I study … in university” and then there’s ” I study calculus for my exam.” In English, those are the same verb. In Arabic though, it is a different verb and meaning all together.
But…if you don’t want to take my advice then use https://www.alkitaabtextbook.com/books/ This is the company we use in class and the online version of the book is extremely helpful.
You also need to immerse yourself in the language. The best thing to do is study abroad to an Arabic-speaking country. If you cannot do that, then the next best things to do are: listen to music, listen to the news, watch kids cartoons in Arabic, watch Arab movies, etc.
3. Why Arabic?
Besides the fact that I am Muslim, I choose Arabic because I wanted a new challenge. Learning new characters and sounds is a challenge. It also opens up a whole new cognitive door in your brain and helps build more neurons than if you just studied a language using the same characters.