Nov 29, 2013

The 4 essentials for learning Arabic - Part 2

by Tara Delancey


In Part 1 of this topic we looked at how to refresh your motivation to learn the language and realised that it is essential to make time for learning if we want to achieve success in the language inshaAllah. Here we continue with the last 2 essentials for learning Arabic.

3. Invest in a good textbook: 

A “good” textbook here means one that works for you. There are many out there which present the language in different ways. Al-Kitaab fi Ta’alum Al-‘Arabia, or “Al-Kitaab” for short, is one of the best for adult learners in terms of presentation, variety of activities, and multimedia resources, but it can also be a bit pricey. In my opinion, it is worth every penny, but you may have to experiment with a few different books before finding the right one for you. 

Of course, if you are in a class, then by all means use the one you have been assigned. As an independent learner, you will know you have found “the one” when it is challenging but not incomprehensible and assigns you work that uses the three skills of writing, speaking, and reading for comprehension, and is not unbearably dull.

4. Get a speaking buddy: 

Even if your only intention for learning Arabic is to read the Qur'an, the fact is that speaking a language makes you remember it better and for a longer time. It is essential for gaining an intuitive understanding of the grammar, and makes both reading and writing easier. This is because speaking makes you produce the language quickly and spontaneously from your own mind, whereas reading only requires you to interpret what you see in front of you, which you can do as slowly as you like. 

Thus, a speaking buddy is essential to gaining a thorough grasp of the language. If you are not sure where to find a speaking buddy, encourage a friend to take a class with you or befriend a native speaker from the masjid to meet with twice a week to practice. Even hiring a tutor is great; the point is just to get yourself talking in a non-judgmental, relaxed environment. And finally, do not be afraid to make mistakes! Everyone stumbles in the beginning and says many incoherent and embarrassing things, but that is okay. In fact, it is an essential part of the learning process which will bring you one big step closer to Arabic fluency.

InshaAllah, these tips will set you off on a wonderful journey of learning Arabic. In Arabic, we say that the Arabic language is like an ocean, it is something that no one can fully encompass. It is also like a mountain with no peak- even a native speaker will probably never reach a point at which they can say to themselves “I have done it. I have mastered the Arabic language.” 

However, with strong motivation, the right book, and plenty of speaking opportunities, you will reach a point at which you will read the Qur'an and say “Hey! I know that word!” and then, “Alhamdulillah, I think I understand it!” Learning Arabic may be a difficult upward climb in the beginning, but don’t worry; just have fun with it and enjoy the journey!

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!


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