Learning Arabic starting from scratch : how long?
Replies: 31 - Last Post: Mar 24, 2013 9:18 AM Last Post By: mejo
Sep 28, 2012 6:47 AM
I'm not giving any advice, like your pal, once again you're just trying to score a few brownie points.
Oh - and secondly on your assumption that my English isn't great, shall I go ahead and quote some of yours?
You fell on your face yesterday with your slagging down - and failed to come up with answers....
Is that the best you can do nowadays, just join another thread and start more slagging? It appears so.
If my English isn't that great, then let's have a go thread after thread at your lousy punctuation.
Then again, I'm sure others have better things to do.
Sep 28, 2012 6:52 AM
Sep 28, 2012 6:54 AM
Sep 28, 2012 7:47 PM
18This previous thread on how long it takes to learn Arabic might help/
Sep 29, 2012 7:34 AM
Sep 29, 2012 3:18 PM
20Bologna, - go for it! I guarantee that you will not learn nearly as much as you had expected, but you will have a unique experience. I would say that you need several years to reach an acceptable level.
if you want to include reading and writing scills. And if you chose a spoken dialect without any reading and writing practice you will sooner or later realize that you need the written language (Modern Standard Arabic) anyway. But even learning very little is fun, it will broaden your horizon immensely and will open the doors to many Arabs' hearts for you.
Try to get as much audio material as possible and listen to it again and again till you feel brain washed, just make sure that it really IS the type of Arabic that you decide to learn, either a dialect or Modern Standard Arabic.
And, by the way- as-salamu alaykum is not only a Moslem greeting. I have been told that in some regions it is used by Christians as well
Oct 2, 2012 3:40 PM
21Hi, Bologna. A few suggestions. Decisions, really. What do you want to do with your Arabic-- read/write it, or carry on conversations with locals? If it's the former, you're really on the track of learning the Arabic alphabet, then some basic vocabulary and grammar. Waaaaaaaaay different from learning to have conversations where you have to understand both what's being spoken to you (the language +sounds+), and then making those sounds yourself to respond.
So reading and writing, sort of monkey see, monkey do. But reproducing Arabic sounds? You're not even going to hear some of them for quite a while, e.g., the difference between three different "h" sounds. Real challenge if you want to be understood because you're going to have to produce sounds from the back of your throat and place your tongue differently and so on. BIG challenge--but not impossible, although most adults can never overcome a huge "accent." I still have trouble with the "q" sound. Not that I speak the language fluently at all--but enough to get by in Morocco.
Next problem. While written Arabic is understood across all Arabic countries, not so for spoken "street" Arabic. So again, if you choose to learn reading/writing, you can sit in a cafe in any Arabic country and understand the newspaper. BUT not a word of what's happening all around you. While there's overlap between neighbouring countries, the further you travel to the west from the Arab peninsula,the less comprehensible are the spoken languages between native speakers. So, for example, while in Morocco, the guys behind me on a bus spoke very broken English to each other. We got off at the same stop, so I asked them where they were from. One was Moroccan, the other Iraqi. They couldn't understand each other's Arabic, so they got by in broken English.
Soooooooo, if you want to learn conversational Arabic, better first choose your country. One poster said, choose spoken Egyptian Arabic and you'll be understood everywhere. Poster said that because most films and tv shows were made in Egypt, so the Arabic dialect everybody got familiar hearing was Egyptian. They might have somewhat understood it, but nobody could really speak it, but they got the idea of what was going on, sorta thing. Even that is changing now with television replacing films, and local languages replacing most Egyptian soaps, etc.
Last thing to say here is that while the written language can be/is spoken, that's mainly in the courts, formal newscasts, or with the Qur'an--just like Latin used to be in Italy, while in the street, Italian was spoken. Illiterate people can't understand the newscasts for the most part.
All of that said, the study of Arabic is absolutely fascinating. An intellectual challenge, if that's what you like. And so satisfying and amazing when you see the reaction of an Arabic speaker who actually understands a single thing you've said, and hands over the three tomatoes you've asked for in the market. Best wishes.
Oct 2, 2012 3:56 PM
Oct 3, 2012 7:12 AM
23Razzak, I agree with you 99.9%. I just want to add that even learning reading and writing should include a lot of listening comprehension and imitation. If not, it is nearly impossible to learn the vocabulary and remember the difference between words that are close in pronunciation. The way I learned reading Arabic many years ago was the old-fashioned "look -up -every -word -in- the -dictionary-method". That wasted years of my life.
Oct 3, 2012 8:29 AM
24Greetings, VinnyD and all. As my bus-story-with-language encore, I offer another Moroccan incident. This time on a standing room only city bus in Agadir. A woman at close proximity kept desperately calling out "Meeka, meeka!" Now the only meeka I was familiar with meant an ordinary plastic bag. So was this a missing child's name or what? All too soon I found that I had understood correctly, as she barfed a shower of stunning proportions. Oh dear.
akguindy, as I absolutely need that .01% I'm lacking from you, let me say that I completely agree with not only your post above this one, but #21 as well. So yes, anyone trying to learn MSA definitely should be listening to what it sounds like. So much easier with a native speaker to coach you. Nothing like trying to speak Arabic to keep you humble, whichever direction you choose to go. And I entirely agree with your observation about opening hearts. The fact that you are attempting to learn their language grants you a very special status in Arabic speaking countries.
Love your lives, people.
Oct 3, 2012 8:32 AM
Oct 3, 2012 1:13 PM
26Razzak, you've got my last 0.1% . Any advise from you how to learn Moroccan dialect outside Morocco?
Oct 4, 2012 10:07 PM
27Yup. Marry a Moroccan! ;-)
Or, check out the net and youtube. Both have a lot of material. Go through it and see what's helpful. The "Peace Corps Morocco Darija Moroccan Arabic Language Manual doc" can be downloaded free from google, but no audio that I've found. Lottsa pages to print out if you don't want to read it online. LOTS of "lessons" on google, some with sound, all worth a whirl just to get some idea of what you're getting into. A major problem is how to transliterate consonant sounds not found in English. Some use numbers, some symbols, some use the Arabic script for that letter/sound. Very confusing even if you get the hang of it for one set of lessons. But then to find a different method in a different set of lessons, it's crazy-making.
Anyhow. "A Basic Course in Moroccan Arabic" by Richard S. Harrell is a standard 1965 "text" available from Amazon in re-print, plus a CD. Text is good, CD is from old cassette tapes and so muffled that it's not all that useful for the more difficult sounds. A useful second book by Harrell is "A Short Reference Grammar of Moroccan Arabic." Now, this is advanced learning for grammar nuts.
What would be more helpful would be a DVD where you could see the face/mouth as the words are pronounced, but I've never found one. Look around youtube and you may find something.
But the truth is, learning Arabic without the assistance of a native speaker is extremely difficult. Well, with a native speaker it's also extremely difficult, but if you love a challenge, go for it.
All the best, Razzak
Oct 5, 2012 11:58 AM
Oct 13, 2012 5:10 AM
Forza e coraggio. Do not listen to people who try to discourage you. I really suggest that you learn standard Arabic at the beginning. If you try dialect you will not be able to be understood in the whole Arab world. Maroccan dialect (Darja) for instance is very different from the Levantine dialect spoken in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. But with Fus'ha (standard Arabic) you'll go along everywhere.
The problem with the dialect is also that it is not written and so you'll be an analphabet once you know how to talk. Learning the Arabic alphabet is not difficult it just needs some practice.
The problem is to find a good Arabic method. The books are old fashioned and there is a lot of grammar usually explained in a way to make things more complicated.
Assimil is not bad, it makes things clear in an organized way, give it a try. The book costs about 30 euros and maybe you will find it at the University library in Bologna. There are also CDs to buy.
Personally, I do not like the Egyptian accent but I think that in Cairo and Alexandria there are still good schools working. In Ramallah, Palestine there is Bir Zeit University, I knew some people who went there for two monthes and loved it really. In Lebanon you'll find the University of St.Joseph but I guess it is more expensive then Plaestine or Egypt.
If you opt for dialect try the Pimsleur method for Syrian or Egyptian dialect. It's completely auditive. You can download 16 hours for about 100 dollars, a bit expensive but really good.
So go on!
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