Mobile apps are one of the most underestimated learning tools. The fact that they are always with us, and can be used anywhere can be a total game-changer. That is if you use the right apps. Fortunately, there are a few exceptional apps that can help you learn Arabic on the go.
After spending a lot of time researching the best Arabic learning apps, I have put together a comprehensive list which will help you pick out the right ones, and avoid a lot of frustration.
Great Apps with Free Versions
Free | Premium: 5 USD / month (annual plan)
Memrise is a really good app especially for learning vocabulary. It has a lot of user-contributed content for Arabic, some of which are really useful. For example, all the vocabulary of the Madinah Arabic Books as a separate course. It also has a lot of excellent frequency lists with audio.
Free | Premium: €5.83 / month (annual plan)
Busuu is a fun way to learn MSA or Modern Standard Arabic, with short lessons and a lot of reviews and quizzes. The premium version offers useful features like getting feedback and corrections on your pronunciation from native speakers. Also, you get access to podcast episodes, pdf and audio files.
Free | $7.49 per month | $48.99 per year | $109.99 once
Don’t be fooled by the simple logo. Drops is a highly-rated system offering 33 languages. The lessons are split into 5-minute sessions. It uses gamification, spaced-repetition and mnemonic illustrations to teach you.
This is what the website says about the Arabic version:
In just five minutes a day, you will learn Arabic through our beautifully illustrated, immersive and playful lessons. You focus on the part of Arabic that matters most — words. It’s effective, fun and free.
Free | $9.99 per month | $47.99 per year
Emphasis on conversation. Verb-conjugation charts. Comprehensive and deeper content if you are looking move beyond basic conversation.
Serious Language Investments
Free Demo | $8.99 per month (annual plan) | Other payment options available
Often referred to as the largest language learning company in the world Rosetta Stone offers some awesome language courses if you are serious about your learning.
The Arabic program has a legacy of more than 25 years and is used by corporate clients like NASA and the U.S State Department.
The course teaches MSA and relies heavily on immersion. It uses a patented speech recognition software to make you practice. This is a course you want to buy if you want to take your conversation skills to the next level.
$335 for all 3 levels (Lessons can be purchased individually)
The Pimsleur language programs are based on a language learning methodology developed in the 1960s by Dr. Paul Pimsleur. He was one of the first to apply the principle of spaced repetition in a language program.
Pimsleur offers an MSA program with 3 levels. This is one of the most expensive courses available for Arabic, so make sure you try out the free lesson available on the website before making an investment. If you have an Audible subscription you can get levels 1-5 for 1 credit.
Free | $19.99 per month
The user interface is pretty slick and the free parts I reviewed seem very effective. But don’t expect to go beyond basic conversation and vocabulary.
If you are trying to build a foundation which will give the confidence to start speaking, an app like this might be right for you.
$11 per month | Save 15% on annual plan
I think the current pricing plan for Bayyinah tv provides a lot of value. You get a lot of great inspirational lectures, tafsir and other content centred around the Quran. These are constantly updated.
The Arabic program has well-produced and structured content which allow you to progress in a sequential manner.
But I have a big issue with the methodology. They follow a Grammar focussed traditional approach which is fine. But they completely disregard the traditional terminologies and classifications and come up with their own, which I think will be really confusing for the student if he wants to move on to other resources down the road.
Also, when I wanted to cancel my monthly subscription they told me I had to go to my Paypal account and cancel it from there. If you are charging a monthly subscription, I think you have to make the process of opting out just as easy as opting in.
More Useful Apps
Italki lets you find native speakers to teach you Arabic for a fee.
A fun and innovative way to learn Quranic vocabulary.
Podcasts around Arabic learning and podcasts in Arabic are a great way to keep improving. Have you checked out my podcast: Arabic Qahwa (Learn Quranic Arabic)?
Free | $8.98 per month
A great subscription service offering thousands of high-quality Arabic audiobooks. I just love the classical Arabic section.
Audible has some great Arabic learning texbooks and courses you can listen to while you go about your day. The credit system means that you can get some of these for really cheap when you purchase the monthly subscription.
Amazon has recently launched a huge number of Arabic titles. Immerse yourself in your favourite titles in Arabic. Check out the unlimited subscription to make sure you never run out of material.
A good app to master the Arabic script.
An interesting gamified method to learn some great vocabulary without English.
This app lets you have classical Arabic textbooks like the Madinah series (1-3), Al-Arabiyyah Bayna Yadayk on your phone. Check it out on the Playstore.
One of the best dictionaries for AR>>EN and EN>>AR translation.
Search the printed Hans Wehr dictionary using root words. A useful tool for advanced learners.
No list is complete with the good ol’ Google Translate. It’s true that Google Translate messes up sentences (usually), but it’s great with words (as long as they are not too classical). The long press translate feature accessible through the browser can become an indispensable tool.
Finally, for slightly advanced users I want to suggest this great app that gives you the complete I’rab (grammatical analysis) of the Quran. It is completely in Arabic, so it might not be suitable for complete beginners.
Featured image credit: dribblegraphics.com