Have you ever wanted to learn Arabic, but didn’t really know where to start?

Well, lucky for you, I’ve collated all the resources I’ve used over the last five years to learn Arabic! There’s a mixture of free resources and resources you’ll have to pay for, Arabic learning books to help you with your journey, as well as websites. Hope you enjoy!

Books

Now, Al-Kitaab is definitely the series that is best known to those who want to learn Arabic, particularly those studying it at uni, but are they really the best books to learn Arabic?

They certainly provide a good basis to start your Arabic learning journey, but I would recommend supplementing them with some other resources. This is because:

  • depending on the institution you’re studying with, they may ask you to purchase an older copy of the book, which is more focused on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and not on dialects. While MSA is very important, if you really want to get chatting to Arabs, you’ll need to pick up a dialect too!
  • while the grammar sections are very comprehensive and logical (taking you from basics to very complex forms of grammar), the vocabulary sometimes seems a little odd and forced – I mean, who needs to learn how to say ‘overcrowding’ before they can order a sandwich?
  • they are expensive!

So here are some of my other suggestions for books to learn Arabic:

McGraw Hill Arabic Verbs & Essentials of Grammar by Jane Wightwick and Mahmoud Gaafar

This one does what it says on the tin really! It gives you the basics of grammar and all the (quite complicated) verb forms in one short, easy to access book!

McGraw Hill Practice Makes Perfect Arabic Verb Tenses book by Jane Wightwick and Mahmoud Gaafar

Once you’ve learned all about grammar in the first book I mentioned, you can use this to practice until those skills are really embedded in your brain!

DK Arabic - English Bilingual Dictionary

Once you’ve got the basics of grammar down, but want to improve and expand your vocabulary, then a visual dictionary is a great way to go! Especially if you’re travelling abroad, then you can use it to show shopkeepers if you can’t pronounce an item! And the images help the vocabulary to stick in your brain better! Also available for free here.

An Arabic-English Frequency Dictionary: again, this is amazing for helping to improve your vocab. It orders words based on their frequency of use in spoken and written Arabic, so you know that the vocabulary you’re learning is super useful!

Websites

Oxford Arabic Dictionary

I know I mentioned this in my dictionaries wrap-up, but honestly it is a god send and worth £19.99/year! This is useful even for beginners, especially if you’re studying with Al-Kitaab, which introduces new vocab at a rate of knots!

Aswaat Arabiya this is a collection of free listening resources from real-life Arabic-speaking situations, collated by The University of Texas. It’s great for expanding your Arabic listening practice outside of the exercises provided on the Al-Kitaab DVDs.

Along a similar vein, you can’t beat BBC Arabic for reading practice. Lots of articles about current affairs in varying lengths.

If you’re an absolute beginner, then you might like Learn Arabic with Maha on You Tube. She even has videos on how to correctly pronounce the letters of the Arabic alphabet. You Tube is a resource that shouldn’t be sniffed at – once you’ve decided on a dialect, you could do some research on TV programmes in that dialect and you may even be able to find some episodes on You Tube for free!

Finally, I’d thought I’d do a short list of other dictionaries (that I admittedly mentioned in my other post), just to have them all handily together:

http://ejtaal.net/ – this is also available as an app called ‘Arabic Almanac’

https://www.almaany.com/ – there’s also an app available for this one, but I think it’s only the monolingual Arabic version

http://www.livingarabic.com/dictionaries – again, available as an app – Lughatuna. This is great, because not only does it have an MSA dictionary, but it includes a few dialects. Unfortunately, I have an iPhone, so all these apps are available on Apple, but I can’t guarantee for any other operating system.

I hope this helped! If you have any other resource suggestions, please leave them in comments! And if you don’t have the time to invest in learning Arabic, don’t forget the importance of a good Arabic translator! If you have some texts that you need translating from Arabic to English, please contact me via my contact page!

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a Norfolk-based Arabic and French > English translator and languages tutor.

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