Arabic is the sixth most spoken language in the world, with nearly 420 million people speaking it worldwide. Learning a new language is always a big undertaking, but when the new language doesn’t share a root with your native tongue, it’s even more difficult.

With any new language, there are keys to success in becoming fluent. You learn vocabulary, verb conjugation, grammar, sentence structure, and then practice, practice, practice. You immerse yourself in the new language. You watch movies and listen to music in the new language, speak it as well as you can as often as you can, and seek out native speakers and converse with them. Before long, you’ll have a working understanding and beginning fluidity in the new language.

Or at least that’s the idea. However, Arabic can present some unique challenges for native English speakers that can slow the learning process down. For example:

  • Arabic uses a completely new alphabet.
  • There is almost no shared vocabulary between Arabic and Latin-based languages. Every single word you learn is a new word.
  • Arabic is a highly inflectional tongue. Subject, tense, and mood are communicated by how you inflect your tone.
  • There are ten usual verb patterns, and students must memorize the conjugation and vocalization for the active and passive voices.
  • Plurals and their agreements with numbers are more difficult and complex than what we are used to in English.
  • Arabic is foreign to English speakers in every sense of the word.