Spending all your time trying to make money,
is sometimes poverty in itself.
Spending all your time trying to make money,
is sometimes poverty in itself.
If you want true friends in life,
You need to be prepared to overlook their faults
Silence is indeed golden. It is always a profitable trade. If you choose it, even if you don’t profit, you avoid making losses.
Arabic is widely considered one of the world’s toughest languages to learn. Its grammar rules are almost mathematical and spoken Arabic is entirely different from the written language. So, even if you’re reading novels in written Arabic (called Modern Standard Arabic), you might not be able to order a coffee. The vowels are left out of written Arabic, which can make reading challenging, and each letter has three different shapes, depending on where it fits in a word. So – fair warning – learning the alphabet will take some time! The spoken language comprises dialects which vary from country to country, and even from city to city. Pleasantries or niceties are common (i.e. ‘may your hands be blessed’), such that your standard interaction with, say, the guy at the corner store might involve four or five different pleasantries. All of this makes learning Arabic quite difficult.
And yet, Arabic language learners are on the rise. More and more students are enrolling in Arabic classes and studying in Arabic-speaking countries. Why? Here are six perks of learning Arabic that might explain the growth – in spite of all the challenges.
Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Spoken by up to 422 million people across more than 20 countries, it is absolutely a global language. One of the UN’s six official languages, learning Arabic offers the chance to speak one of the world’s five most spoken languages.
With the rise of globalization, Arabic is an increasingly useful language on the job market. Knowing Arabic opens opportunities in business, government, nonprofit, education and beyond. In spite of its prevalence, many countries report a shortage of Arabic speakers. In fact, knowledge of Arabic is such a desirable skill that many governments and universities will pay you to study it! Scholarship opportunities – especially for studying abroad – are plentiful, and universities are eagerly recruiting students who pursue such opportunities.
Arabic is the language of Islam, the language of the Quran, studied and spoken by Muslims across the globe – even outside of the Arab world, in Iran and Indonesia, for example. Learning Arabic offers the chance to gain a bit of knowledge about one of the world’s major religions. Misunderstandings and intolerance are common, and hate crimes against Muslim communities in Western countries, unfortunately, appear to be on the rise. For non-Muslims, learning Arabic offers the chance to learn about, and promote tolerance and understanding towards, this important religion and culture.
Aside from these more serious reasons, the food of the Arab world is DELICIOUS, and Arabs have a centuries-long tradition of warm and generous hospitality. Even non-Arabic speaking tourists are often welcomed into Arabs’ homes for a delectable spread; but, speak a few words of Arabic, and your hosts might just go above and beyond. Arabic food goes beyond the hummus and falafel that most are familiar with and includes meat-filled pastries, couscous, barbecued lamb and many other tasty treats. Once you’ve filled up on the savory, you’ll want to save room for sugary baklava or kinafe, a cheese-based dessert traditionally from Nablus, along with a strong cup of coffee or mint tea. A few recipes are listed here to get you started.
Native Arabic speakers know that Arabic is challenging. They might even empathize with your struggles mastering the grammar from their own experience in grade school. As a result, they tend to be very supportive. Speak one word of Arabic, and your waiter, taxi driver, teacher, etc. will compliment you on your impressive skills; speak another word, and they’ll no doubt tell you: “Your Arabic is better than mine!” Unlike many other languages, where the slightest error could result in raised eyebrows and disdain – French speakers, for example, have a reputation for being a tad unfriendly to French-learners – Arabic language learners are supported and encouraged.
Yes, news reports abound about the dangers of travel in the Middle East. However, much of the Arab world remains perfectly safe for tourists. Ride a camel in the Sahara in Morocco, visit the pyramids in Egypt, wander through one of the Seven Wonders of the World at Petra in Jordan and take in the view from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. Beyond the big sites, strolling through markets, getting out to beautiful oases, and even visiting sacred religious sites are just some of the many travel opportunities for Arabic language learners.
This article was written by Liisi, a language enthusiast, who’s turned her passion into a career with Teacher Finder. She now helps connect language learners like herself with private tutors around the world.
How do I teach my kids Arabic, if I don’t speak Arabic fluently? What if we don’t live in an Arab country? How do I get them to use Arabic at home? Can this even be done?
These are questions that pop up when you talk about teaching kids Arabic. The answer to all this is, it is possible to teach kids any language. But you need to provide the right conditions.
Even if you did speak Arabic, it would be awkward to speak in Arabic when you live in a completely non-arab environment. But there is a solution. You don’t need to be speaking long complicated sentences with them in fluent Arabic. Children learn very gradually. What I suggest is that you start learning along with your kids. And use the simple words and sentences you learn with them. That will teach them, as well as reinforce your own learning.
I remember teaching my daughter how to say ‘I want’ in Arabic. (أنا أريد). I just told her a few times. A few weeks later I was amazed. Not only did she remember it, but now she was using it in different contexts – to say that she wants different things. Imagine how much you can teach them. Which brings me to the next point.
Children are like a thirsty sponge. They absorb things so fast. Have you wondered why someone who learns a language when they are young almost always speaks it better than someone who learns it later in life? Why do language learners rarely reach the level of native speakers?
There has been a lot of research done around this topic. Kids seem to have some clear advantages when it comes to language acquisition. One of the main reasons is this:
A two-year-old child has twice as many synapses (connections) in the brain as an adult. According to research by Dr Patricia Kuhl, children are born with the ability to recognize and distinguish between the phonetic sounds from all the different languages. Or in other words, they are born ready to learn any language in the world. By the time they are 6 months, this ability starts to decline, and they start to focus on their native language.
But they are not limited to one language.According to Dr. Susan Curtiss, Professor of Linguistics at UCLA
“…the power to learn language is so great in the young child that it doesn’t seem to matter how many languages you seem to throw their way…They can learn as many spoken languages as you can allow them to hear systematically and regularly at the same time. Children just have this capacity. Their brain is just ripe to do this…there doesn’t seem to be any detriment to…develop(ing) several languages at the same time.”
While you can master language at any age (inshaAllah), if you put your mind to it, it is so much easier to do it with your kids when they are young.
Just imagine. When your son or daughter grows up to be a young man or woman, he or she will be fully equipped to understand the Quran, the Hadeeth, and 1400 years worth of Islamic Literature, all in Arabic. In my opinion it is one of the most valuable gifts you as a parent can give your child. I think it is more valuable than any college education, degree or wordly knowledge that you can provide them.
The basic idea is to get as much exposure to the language as possible. We will use a focused learning time of 30 minutes per day, using textbooks and apps. The remaining time should be filled with activities that are fun for the child, which expose them to the language. I’m talking about things like switching story books to bilingual ones with Arabic and English or any other language. Other things you can do include, playing Arabic games, watching Arabic cartoons etc.
Time: 30 min
If you are teaching them how to read, I suggest you start with the Qaeda al-Noorania, which is a book that will teach them how to read the Quran along with the Tajweed. Just download an app in the same name from the app-store or play-store and just make your child follow along. It comes with the audio, so they listen to perfect pronunciations. Here is the one I use:
Once they can read, focus on building vocabulary. Focus on Quranic words. Here are a few resources:
Next, you need to teach them how to use these words in basic phrases and simple sentences. If you are learning Arabic yourself from a book like Arabiyyatu Bayna Yadayk, this step is going to be very easy. You can make plenty of simple sentences for your kids.
Time: 30 min
Just being exposed the language can speed up language acquisition for the child. Try to switch all the cartoons (or most of them) to Arabic. Most cartoons are in Fusha or Formal Arabic. Check the resources section for a curated list of cartoons in Arabic.
Another great option is to make them read story books in Arabic. Look for bilingual books with the stories in both Arabic and English, so you can explain it to them. Look for visually pleasing books that children will like reading again and again. These books are always a great investment.
Activities and games are a great way to teach. For example, look at this great activity designed by parenthoodmuslimstyle.com
You can also do simple activities and games with your kids. For example, play the ‘I spy’ game in Arabic, while you are in the car. Ask them names of simple things – the sky, earth, water, tree, river etc.
I am working on developing some quality activities and resources myself as well, so keep checking the kids section in the resources page.
It helps to be a part of a community where you can find advice, ideas and inspiration from like-minded parents and teachers.
I have set up a community or Reddit. Join it here: https://www.reddit.com/r/TeachingKidsArabic
There are a few apps that are really valuable.
By far the most useful one I’d recommend is the Google translate app. There is one handy feature that I find exceptionally useful. If you are using android you can translate words from any app. Here how it works:
If you are using chrome you can also long press a word:
To find some great vocabulary for kids, go to a web page with a great kid’s story. Translate all the words you like.
IOS doesn’t have this functionality yet. But if you are using a mac or pc, you can get a chrome extension which allows you to do the same thing.
By the way make sure you download ‘Arabic’ inside the Google translate app, so it works offline as well.
This is a basic framework you can work with for teaching your kids Arabic. Let me know if you find this useful in the comments below.
InshaAllah, I will be writing more in-depth articles on the topic. Subscribe to be notified about post by email below.