There is an Arabic proverb that says: "a tree begins with a seed."
Learning a foreign language such as Arabic requires rigor and regularity: don't settle for the Arabic classes in the city that you've already taken and always try to improve your language skills.
With the different systems available on the internet--audio, video, e-books, forums, or apps--it's now possible to train in whatever way you want.
Whether its cooking, yoga, science, languages (English lessons, French lessons, Spanish lessons, Italian lessons)--everything is available at little or no cost online.
Is this also true of the Arabic language?
Well there are a number of ways to learn Arabic, and an increasingly popular way is definitely distance learning Arabic training.
Here is a small selection of websites we think are the most suitable for helping you learn Arabic online.
Online Arabic Courses: A New Way to Learn Arabic
The internet is full of sites and services to accompany a student in foreign language training.
Of course, the Arabic language is not exempt from this, and numerous Arabic language courses are available online.
This seems perfectly normal, as the internet originally set out to open the world to people by sharing different cultures with the maximum number of users.
Are you looking for the best way to learn Arabic? Here's a tour of what teaching can be found on the web, and what public it is best suited for.
What Qualities Do You Need for Online Learning
Learning a language online is paradoxically not as easy as it initially may sound. There is even some debate about how effective language learning online actually is.
There are in fact a few inconveniences that come with taking Arabic classes online:
- Websites do not always have the correct basic vocabulary,
- There are missing explanations for Arabic grammar questions, like constructing a phrase or finding the right tense for a verb,
- The student is alone in front of the screen, left to their own devices,
It requires certain qualities not everybody has: online learning means you will often have to be your own motivator.
So, above all, you'll have to be patient and learn to motivate yourself, neither of which is easy.
You will also need to be organized in order to practice regularly and obtain the results you want.
The hiccup in online distance learning is the following. There is no one to correct the tiniest of errors, no tutor to ring the alarm because bad habits are being picked up by the student in terms of pronunciation, writing, or reading the Arabic language.
This is the biggest risk in this type of learning, and therefore vigilance is the key to succeeding when taking Arabic lessons.
To achieve this, the student must perfectly respect the proposed teaching method on the website he or she chooses.
Promising New Tools
With the internet, teaching methods and techniques are constantly evolving, and more and more tools for learning Arabic are now available.
Today, the student is no longer sat passively at their computer screen. They participate in Arabic language courses, rate their teacher's course, and can find their own homework.
Learning a language has become a collaboration.
However, Arabic is an oral language and it needs to remain a living language of communication.
Nowadays, for the most part, websites and foreign language learning platforms offer promising new tools which allow the students to really become invested in their training.
Social media is definitely part of this personal investment; it's the opportunity for each student to become the key to their own language learning.
Instead of feeling isolated in front of their screen, students can count on both distance learning and a professional teacher, with whom they can share their doubts and queries about the Arabic language training they are receiving.
The websites offering Arabic language courses offer opportunities to work wherever you want, whenever you want, and with various teaching methods on whatever medium (tablet, computer, smartphone).
The websites that teach Arabic also tailor themselves to the skills and level of its students: beginner, intermediate, or advanced, from the Arabic alphabet to oral conversation.
In fact, there isn't really a need for places where you can learn Arabic, an internet connection can easily suffice!
The websites are regularly updated, which allows students to dive into improving their skills and immersing themselves linguistically and culturally every time they visit the site.
Websites for Online Arabic Language Learning
When we talk about learning Arabic online, it's immediately understood that the class will either be in classical Arabic or modern standard Arabic.
This Semitic language is spoken by almost 300 million people all over the world.
However, having already done some research you will already be aware that the Arabic spoken in each country across the Arab world differs from all of the others. This means that Egyptian Arabic is different from Lebanese Arabic, which is in turn different from Moroccan Arabic or the Arabic spoken in Qatar, Iraq or Syria.
In other words, each of the Arabic speaking countries across the Middle East and North Africa has their own dialect and their own variation on the language. This means that although they share the same Arabic alphabet and Arabic script, some words, phrases and expressions are different, as well as the Arabic pronunciation of these words.
It is therefore no surprise that learning Arabic online tends to focus on Modern Standard Arabic or Classical Arabic, the two of which are largely interchangeable.
Modern Standard Arabic is used across the Arab world, in the media, books and politicians speeches and is widely seen as the glue which binds all Arabic speaking countries together.
Classic Arabic, also known as Quranic Arabic, is the form of Arabic which is used in the Islamic holy book, the Quran.
The differences between the two are negligible and mainly centre on the way in which they are presented.
Here is a selection of the best sites for learning Arabic learning--Quranic Arabic and Literary Arabic--at your pace and level.
Memrise is an online application which is available on every device.
Thankfully, like most apps, it's in English.
Memrise has a simple and effective premise: the users participate in creating the Arabic exercises and quizzes themselves, so that the experience is 100% interactive.
Mobile versions are available so that you can learn Arabic on the move.
The Speak Language site is also in English.
Its users can connect from their Facebook account. This language learning platform makes learning the Arabic alphabet fun.
The site also gives you the opportunity to meet native Arabic speakers, as well as consolidate your Arabic vocabulary with the help of linguistic games.
Great for learning Arabic online for free, side by side with linguistic partners who are native speakers whose mother tongue is Arabic.
Not bad, don't you think?
More than just a simple website, this is an online learning language institute who aim to teach you to speak and write classical Arabic, standard Egyptian Arabic and the Arabic of the Quran and its the rules regarding its pronunciation, referred to as Tajweed.
Al-Kunuz is a pioneer in matters of Arabic language learning online, and opened its virtual doors in 2006.
Arabic classes on the site are for children and adults alike. On this site, you won't need to feel so competitive: the classes are destined for students of all levels, from beginner's Arabic to advanced Arabic.
The teachers are all Egyptian and hold degrees in Arabic language teaching for non-Arabic speakers.
Various formulas are offered depending on the level of the student, whether it be to engage in a complete program, one-on-one classes, or collective classes.
A virtual online community which aims to teach Arabic through interactive classes.
WARNING: only one part of the Arabic lessons are free.
Each course comprises a lexical portion in order to learn new Arabic vocabulary, dialogue, Arabic writing exercises, and oral conversation practice with a native Arabic speaker.
The course finishes with some listening exercise and a final exam.
The premise is simple: you create a free account--which you can create through your Facebook account--and then you select your level.
After that, you can exchange with other users and you even have the possibility of adding friends to a contact list.
An "educational garden" allows you to collect points as you learn Arabic online which incentivizes you to learn and progress each day.
Polyglot Club is a hugely useful tool for talking to other like minded people who also have an interest in learning languages.
It is a platform that offers the chance to exchange languages so that not only can you practise your Arabic with a native, you can help them with their English if you want to!
Let the virtual conversation flow with this amazing website, or if you find people nearby, you can always meet up with them too. Although this should be done in a public place, such as a coffee shop or bar.
This is one of the first linguistic exchange websites, and although its interface leaves much to be desired, it provides the opportunity to speak to native Arabic speakers.
Its large virtual community will allow you to choose from a large number of users in order to find the people who correspond to your language needs.
To begin, you need to create a personal account. You then choose your language--Arabic in this case--and select a profile in order to start email communication.
It's ideal for learning a second language, learning Arabic online, and learning about Arabic culture from native speakers.
The website offers free Arabic language lessons online, conversation chatrooms, and an Arabic dictionary and online library.
This is an entirely virtual classroom.
This form of social media was started in China and offers users the possibility to exchange with more than 5000 online teachers practicing more than 100 different languages.
With Italki, the user will find the Arabic teacher who is right for him or her.
Signing up to Italki is free but you can also hire a "community teacher" to help with your language learning.
Most classes happen on Skype.
This online Arabic language training platform puts users and highly qualified teachers in contact.
But classes are not free. To take an Egyptian Arabic class, you have to pay an average of 15 USD per hour.
And finally, for those who want to discover the latest greatest thing, you can be a part of MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses).
These consist of free lessons given entirely online.
MOOC's objective is to train a maximum number of students and to make education available to all.
You can find MOOCs on a variety subjects!
So head over to MOOC in order to find your online Arabic language teacher.
You will also find Arabic language learning books, which are another great way to learn Arabic, online.
Other Websites to Learn Arabic Online
Other than the general linguistic institutes to learn Arabic online, certain websites are exclusively dedicated to teaching the Arabic language.
Here is what they offer.
This website has Arabic language lessons that begin with an introduction to the language, the Arabic alphabet, Arabic writing, and Arabic grammar.
Divided into three categories--beginner, intermediate, advanced--the lessons are progressive and are made up of written lesson plans and video classes in order to stimulate oral comprehension.
Arabic grammar, verb tenses, and vocab are the preferred methods of learning online. Then come the themed lessons, as sentences become harder and harder to listen to and emulate.
There is nothing better in order to work on phonetics and pronunciation.
This is an Egyptian learning center based in Egypt.
The Al-dirassa Center proposes a user-friendly learning interface by proposing interactive classes in order to learn classical Arabic and the Arabic of the Quran.
Teaching materials are free to download online.
And the classes themselves? They happen over Skype, with 100% native professors from Egypt, with prestigious language teaching degrees from Cairo.
The only thing is that the Skype classes are part of the "premium" package and are not free. However, there are three free formulas which can be adapted to all levels:
- Classes to learn Arabic,
- Free Arabic language learning,
- Quran lessons in order to learn how to read the Arabic in the holy book and the rules of the Tajweed.
The center also offers Islamic classes, which means an introduction to Islam and its practices and civilization.
Al-dirassa is a full teaching method which takes place over thirteen different levels from beginner to very advanced.
With this kind of program, you can become bilingual by taking classes online!
Loecsen consists of free language classes online in various foreign languages, even for less popular languages such as Thai, Vietnamese, Hindi, Croatian, Serbian, Albanese, Breton, Bulgarian, and Catalan.
Of course, the Arabic language is one of the languages offered on the website.
But on this site it's Moroccan Arabic - also called darija - an Arabic dialect. You can learn to pronounce phrases used in every day life, from simple ones to the more complex Arabic spoken in Morocco.
The website also helps with memorizing new Arabic words, phrases, and idiomatic expressions that you will be able to use when abroad in Morocco or a neighboring country in the Maghreb.
And, finally, the teaching method employed by Loecsen offers the possibility to learn Arabic quickly, and learn how to pronounce the new language within a month.
The website's title makes us think this is a German language learning site.
However, this is a place where one can learn how to speak Arabic for beginners. This website offers 30 free lessons - 100 courses in total - with phrases and conversations recorded by native Arabic speakers.
According to the teaching team, you don't need to know any Arabic to start, and you can begin with from a beginner's level with no problems.
A table of contents offers 100 conversations thematically divided that you will be able to repeat aloud and revise by clicking on the different phrases.
Using Apps to Learn Arabic
Another good way to use modern technology to learn Arabic is to download one of the many apps that are now available.
In the modern age where nearly everyone has a smartphone with an internet connection, why not liven up your commute by learning Arabic on the go?
The apps have a similar focus to the websites mentioned above; focusing on the Arabic alphabet, Arabic grammar, and Arabic words and phrases.
Below are some of the best apps around for learning Arabic
Best Apps to Learn Arabic
There are a number of apps available on both the Android and iOS platforms that can help you learn Arabic. Here is our selection
This app is available on Android and has been designed for beginners to the Arabic language. TenguLogi uses navigable lessons to teach you the Arabic alphabet. Each lesson takes the form of a letter on a flashcard. Accompanying the letter are the transliteration and the pronunciation of said letter.
The app also has information about Arabic vowels, as well as numbers up to 100.
Bravolol is a well laid-out, easy to use app which has the added benefit of working offline meaning that you don't need an internet connection to actually use it, just to download it.
Again this app is aimed at Arabic for beginners, and allows you to create flashcards using the favorite expressions and phrases which you can review at your leisure.
Available on both Android and iOS, 50 Languages is for users with an A1 or A2 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages scale.
It presents new vocabulary in a wide range of diverse fields, as well as offering sound files for you to listen to on the move to improve your listening skills.
Reading the Press to Learn Arabic Online
Arabic is the official language of 26 countries in the Arabic and Muslim world, including the 22 states of the Arab League.
Budding Arabic speakers will be happy to know that even at a beginner's level, you can find websites that offer a different way of learning Arabic than being part of a language class.
For example by reading Arabic countries' digital press!
By doing this, you could master the Arabic alphabet and its pronunciation all while catching up on international news. You don't just need to read English language newspapers to do this.
An introduction to the Arabic language will have endowed you with the knowledge of the Arabic alphabet, more specifically its 28 letters and their form according to the place they occupy within Arabic words and sentences.
With this basic Arabic, you will be able to read the news of all Arabic countries where Arabic is an official language.
How about reading the popular Arabic newspaper Al Jazeera online?
The advantage here is that you can cheat and have a look at the translated English if you don't understand something, and this will stimulate your oral and written comprehension.
It may be a troublesome read sometimes when there is no translated version.
However, this exercise can help you recognize words in a formal language, words you may find in other parts of the web, or in written documents whilst visiting an Arabic country such as Egypt.
Repeat this exercise everyday and have a look at the Arabic press websites--it could be your way to learn how to write Arabic at the same time as studying the language and culture of the Arab world.