21 Great Apps to Learn Arabic (2019)

apps-to-learn-arabic

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

Memrise

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.

Busuu

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.

Drops: Arabic

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.

Mondly: Learn Arabic

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

Rosetta Stone Arabic

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.

Pimsleur: Language Learning

$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.

Monthly Subscriptions

Mango Languages

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.

Bayyinah Tv

$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

Italki lets you find native speakers to teach you Arabic for a fee.

Quranic: Learn Quran and Arabic

A fun and innovative way to learn Quranic vocabulary.

Google Podcasts

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)?

Kitab Sawti – Audio Books

Free | $8.98 per month

A great subscription service offering thousands of high-quality Arabic audiobooks. I just love the classical Arabic section.

Amazon Audible

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.

Kindle (Arabic Books)

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.

Arabic Alphabet – TenguLongi

A good app to master the Arabic script.

Infinite Arabic

An interesting gamified method to learn some great vocabulary without English.

مناهج معهد تعليم اللغة العربية‎ (Collection of Books)

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.

Arabic Dictionary

One of the best dictionaries for AR>>EN and EN>>AR translation.

Hans Wehr (Root Based)

Search the printed Hans Wehr dictionary using root words. A useful tool for advanced learners.

Google Translate

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.

إعراب القرآن الكريم‎ (I’rab Al Quran)

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

Ramadan – A Linguistic Perspective

ramadan-linguistic-meaning-01

What is the Meaning of the Word Ramadan رمضان ?

The word Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word Ramidha رَمِضَ or Ar-Ramad الرَمَضُ.  It means intense scorching heat. It is also derived from the word Ramdha الرمضاء which means sun-baked sand. The Arabs used to call the land that is heated by the sun – الارضُ الرمضاءُ.

Ramadan was named such because it burns the sins of the believers. Just like the blazing sun evaporates water from the surface of the ground, Ramadan burns away one’s sins.

This spiritual heat purifies and moulds us to be better human beings.

The word ” ترمض ” in Hadeeth

Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said ( صلاة الاوابين حين ترمض الفصال) which means the best time for salat ad-Dhuha (صلاة الضحى) is when the camel feels burned because of the highly heated land. ( الفصالُ is the plural of the word الفصيل which means the camel ).

Why Did Arabs choose this name?

When they changed the names of the months from the ancient language, they named them according to the seasons in which they fell, and this month fell in the days of intense heat and that is why it was named Ramadan.

Implications of the word Sawm (Fasting)

Sawm and siyam are the Arabic words for fasting. It literally means “to keep away from something. The verb is صام which means to abstain or to restrain from something. A person who observes a fast and abstains is called صائم. Allah (swt) says in Qur’an in Surah Maryam chapter no 19 verse no 26 :

فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِي وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا ۖ فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا

“So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say,
‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any]
man. ” 

When the angel speaks to Mary (May Allah be pleased with her) the word sawm is used. So, here the meaning of sawm is not to abstain from eating or drinking but rather it means to refrain from speaking.

What does the word Suhoor mean?

Suhoor is an Islamic term referring to the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting. This word is taken from the Arabic word وقت السحر  which means the time before dawn. The plural for this word is الاسحار. Allah (عزَّ و جلّ) mentions that in the Quran:

 الصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْمُنفِقِينَ وَالْمُسْتَغْفِرِينَ بِالْأَسْحَارِ

Ramadan Greetings:

Ramadan Kareem (Kareem means ‘generous’)

Ramadan Mubarak (Mubarak means ‘blessings’)

Literal meaning of the word Tarawih :

The word tarawih is derived from the root word rauh روح or raha راحة which basically means to take rest. Because it is customary to take a small break or rest halfway through these extra voluntary prayers on the nights of Ramadan, it came to be called the tarawih prayers. This name also distinguishes it from regular Qiyam al Layl or night prayer offered during the other months.

Sun and Moon Arabic letters

sun-and-moon-letters-arabic

In Arabic, the consonants are divided into two groups – the Sun-letters (حروف شمسية‎) and Moon-letters (حروف قمرية). This classification is based on whether or not they assimilate the definite article al ال. When the definite article is assimilated into the Sun-letters and it loses its distinctive sound. As a result, the sound at the beginning of the word is doubled. (Given Shaddah).

For example: (الرّحمن) the merciful-a name of Allah  

Whereas, the definite article retains its distinctive sound when it comes before one of the Moon-letters.

For example: (الْأرض) the earth.

The Sun and Moon letters might seem tricky, but they are really easy.

Keep in mind: It’s all about pronunciation.

sun-and-moon-letters-arabic

The Rule Is In The Name

The Arabic term for Sun-letters is (الحروف الشمسية) and in Al Shams, you don’t pronounce the ل (Lam). As for the “Moon-letters”, it is (الحروف القمرية ), and for Al Qamar, the
ل (Lam) is pronounced.

There are 28 consonants in the Arabic alphabet. Exactly half are Sun, and half are Moon. Can you feel where your tongue is when you say al?  It’s at your teeth. Notice how your mouth changes when you make the sh sound? al ال and sh ش  are very close to each other – they’re both produced right at the front of your mouth. The Sun-letters assimilate the ‘Lam’ because it makes pronunciation easier. So the Arabs make use of Idgham (ادغام) to make the speech light.

Now say القمر (Al Qamar). As far as your tongue is concerned, the al‘ ال is nowhere near the qaf ق  sound. The Moon-letters, therefore, keep the ‘L’ ل sound. So it is pronounced with the alif ا and then the Lam ل for the Moon letter.

What Are They?

The 14 Sun-letters are: (ﻥ ,ﻝ ,ﻅ ,ﻁ ,ﺽ ,ﺹ ,ﺵ ,ﺱ ,ﺯ ,ﺭ ,ﺫ ,ﺩ ,ﺙ ,ﺕ).

Here are some examples of words that begin with sun letters:

(الرّحمن) the merciful-a name of Allah. 

(الضّحى) the morning brightness.

(التّاج) the crown.

(الثّلج) the ice.

(الدّب) the bear.

(الرّجل) the man.

 (الزّمن) the time.

The 14 Moon-letters are: ( ه ,ﻱ ,ﻭ ,ﻡ ,ﻙ ,ﻕ ,ﻑ ,ﻍ ,ﻉ ,ﺥ ,ﺡ ,ﺝ ,ﺏ ,أ). Arabs usually memorize this rhyme that contains all the Moon-letters.

ُاِبْغِ حَجَّكَ وَخَفْ عَقِيْمَه  (which roughly translates to: ‘Perform Haj and be vary of quarrel’).

Examples of words that begin with moon letters are:

 (الْارض) the earth.

(الْخلق) the creation.

(الْقيامة) the day of judgment.

(الْكتاب) the book.

(الْيوم) the day. 

(الْبحر) the sea.

(الْفيل) the elephant.

Orthography

In the written language, the ال al – is written the same regardless of how it is pronounced. Assimilation of the Sun-letters can be expressed by putting Shaddah on the consonant after the Lam. Non-assimilating Moon-letters can be expressed by placing a Sukoon over the Lam  ْ, الْق.

In summery 

  • Definite nouns in Arabic begin with ال al
  • The way the definite article is pronounced is Arabic is determined by the letter after it. 
  • If the letter after the definite article is a Sun letter – the letter is merged/assimilated into the definite article.
  • If the letter after the definite article is a Moon-letter – the Lam ل  of the definite article is pronounced.
  • These names come from the fact that the word for the Sun, Al Shams is pronounced Ash Shams – assimilating the Lam. While the word for the moon, Al Qamar, does not.

Try it!

By now you should be able to identify the two types of letters. Try to find them in these Ayat of the Holy Quran:

بسم الله الرّحمن الرّحيم

الرَّحْمَنُ (1) عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآَنَ (2) خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ (3) عَلَّمَهُ الْبَيَانَ (4) الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ بِحُسْبَانٍ (5) وَالنَّجْمُ وَالشَّجَرُ يَسْجُدَانِ (6) وَالسَّمَاءَ رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ (7) أَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ (8) وَأَقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ (9) وَالْأَرْضَ وَضَعَهَا لِلْأَنَامِ (10) فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَالنَّخْلُ ذَاتُ الْأَكْمَامِ (11) وَالْحَبُّ ذُو الْعَصْفِ وَالرَّيْحَانُ (12) فَبِأَيِّ آَلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (13) خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ صَلْصَالٍ كَالْفَخَّارِ (14) وَخَلَقَ الْجَانَّ مِنْ مَارِجٍ مِنْ نَارٍ (15) فَبِأَيِّ آَلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (16) رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ الْمَغْرِبَيْنِ (17) فَبِأَيِّ آَلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (18) مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ يَلْتَقِيَانِ (19) بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخٌ لَا يَبْغِيَانِ (20) فَبِأَيِّ آَلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (21) يَخْرُجُ مِنْهُمَا اللُّؤْلُؤُ وَالْمَرْجَانُ (22) فَبِأَيِّ آَلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (23) وَلَهُ الْجَوَارِ الْمُنْشَآَتُ فِي الْبَحْرِ كَالْأَعْلَامِ (24) فَبِأَيِّ آَلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (25) كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ (26) وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ(27).