Everyone learns languages differently. Some people seem to pick up the new vocabulary and grammar without any problems. Others seem to have a more difficult time dealing with the differences between their own language and the new one.
So, whenever someone asks: “is Arabic hard to learn?” we have to answer with: “it depends.”
We understand that that’s not the answer a lot of people want to hear, and it may even seem like a bit of an evasion, but it’s true.
If we come at this a little more objectively, of course, there are some studies that have suggested that Arabic is one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to learn.
Maybe it’s safe to say that Arabic is certainly perceived as a difficult language to learn, so let’s take a look at why that might be.
Language Characteristics that Can Make Arabic Difficult
There are several elements of language learning that can be challenging for anyone. These are things like unfamiliar sounds, different combinations of vowels and consonants, and unaccustomed sentence structures.
In other words, the more similar the new language is to your native language, the easier it will be for you to learn it.
English speakers often have trouble with Arabic because it is very different from the language they know.
Here are a number of characteristics that make Arabic more challenging for some learners.
- The Arabic alphabet has 28 script letters that can be difficult for some students to learn
- Reading Arabic has its own challenges, because in written form it omits vowels
- Arabic is written from right to left, which takes a whole new mindset
- English and Arabic share very few common words (though there are some)
- Arabic uses a lot of sounds that require using the back of the throat in a way that most English speakers are not familiar with
- The sentence structure can be very different, because verbs tend to come before the subject
- There are not many opportunities to get immersed in the language outside Arabic-speaking countries
It’s important to understand what makes Arabic and English so different because this will give us a foundation from which we can work to overcome the most common challenges.
How Can We Make It Easier to Learn Arabic?
Once again, “easier” is dependent on the learner, but there are some things you can do to potentially make the learning process a little faster.
Online Arabic classes have made it more convenient than ever to study a new language and to go at your own pace. This means that if you are one of those who tends to pick up new grammar and vocabulary quickly, you can keep pushing yourself to go even further.
If you require more time to really grasp the new elements of the language, you’re free to do that, too. This means that you’ll be approaching Arabic in a way that will help you embrace the differences and really make the language your own.
There are, of course, some things that anyone can do to enhance their learning processes, including:
- One-on-one lessons with native speakers.
- Immersing yourself in the language whenever possible.
- Setting measurable and attainable goals.
- Testing your skills to measure your growth and improvement.
- Finding every opportunity to speak the language.
In the end, though, there is simply no better way to learn Arabic than to have the determination and desire to keep going no matter what.
It May be a Challenge, but…
The more challenging the language, the more rewarding the sense of accomplishment when you have your first conversation in Arabic, or write your first letter in Arabic, or realize you understood an entire movie or show in Arabic.
Each and every one of those accomplishments feels great. It encourages learners to continue working and striving to learn and speak a little more. And you can do it all if you stick with it.
So, is Arabic hard to learn?
Is it worth it?