How to go about "Arabic"?

I really want to learn some dialect of Arabic but I have no idea how to do it. From what I know, Arabic, or should I say the Arabian dialects as they should be properly called, is only written(recorded) in MSA, but only spoken (outside of news, important events) in the respective dialects relative to the region. Which leaves out any written material of the dialect needed to actually learn it. So unless someone wanted to teach them self how to read the official script and be happy with just reading rather than reading and speaking, how would you recommend learning a dialect on a site like this, without the need of tutor? Please correct me if any of what I said is incorrect. I have a friend who speaks the levantine dialect and has family in Jordan. It just seems as though the dialects are unlearnable without the help of a native speaker talking into your ear 24/7.


When I was learning Arabic, I chose to learn MSA. I asked many native speakers from different regions their opinion in respects to a foreigner to learn Arabic. Almost all of them told me to learn MSA.

The reason they gave me was that every one will understand you when you’re speaking MSA. If you choose to learn a dialect after, it will be much easier.

However, if you are to learn a dialect, I’d personally suggest Egyptian. It is the dialect with the most resources and is the dialect that is used in films


This is one of the reasons why it was easy for me to make learning Arabic a lower priority. Plus I wanted it to be a fully supported language at LingQ and for Steve to try it. You might want to consult his videos from earlier in the year and last year

1 Like

Arabic is one of my dream Languages, But the whole having to learn MSA and then learning a Dialect is just too much for me. What are the chances of learning the dialect that a stranger in mall that I might meet speaks? Also I had such a hard time trying to find material in Levantine Arabic that I just gave up on it. Not to mention, I feel very much in danger going to the middle east, A lot of tension over there near Israel unfortunately. Let us know if you jump into Arabic. Arabic has such a beautiful script. For me the longer a Language is going to take to learn, the more that language needs to offer me. Arabic takes around 2,200 hours to learn! So for me I need to really look at the pro and cons and see if its worth the hard work.
Le_Jr How have you found learning Arabic? Do you think its worth the hard work? How did you find sufficient material for a dialect?


Although I was born in the States, my parents spoke levantine arabic to me as a kid, so I grew up with it just like english. Don’t bother with MSA. My recommendation to start is to just 1) learn the script, 2) find a good YouTube channel for the dialect like this one: The Language Life - YouTube, 3) Use this site to look up words: Living Arabic Project, it’s the best I’ve seen for the dialects (just choose the appropriate one). You can search english to arabic and arabic to english and it’s been spot on every time, at least for my dialect (northern Levantine). After your ear gets used to it you can start to watch shows on netflix like Al-Hayba or the Peasant’s Rebellion.

But you are right, learning the dialects really is an issue. I’ve thought about trying to get in touch with steve about helping in any way I can with a course in the dialects.



I enjoy Arabic! It definitely is worth the work. Unfortunately, I haven’t really touched it here on LingQ. I’ve pushed it to the back burner for now, as I have started learning some other languages- Icelandic, Greenlandic, and Finnish.

I started with MSA, I’ve spoken to people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, and I’ve only used MSA. MSA has a vast variety of different materials, so that was not an issue for me!


I speak the modern Arabic, do you speak spanish, If you do we’ll exchange your arabic with my spanish we will exchange languege I am not native speaker But I speak good Arabic. If you interested, email me .


I am also interested to learn the Arabic but i dont have much time to learn it. I can suggest you to come to the Pakistan because there are institutions are here which provide language courses.
As you mentioned in your reply that you feel danger in middle east somehow there are some conflicts but middle east is now safer. You can go to Kuwait or Oman countries.

1 Like

How to go about “Arabic” ? I would say what Arabic learn ?!
First you have to learn the basics : arabic alphabets, arabic writting, arabic gramare.
once you are familair with all the above you can move to the main question : what arabic ?
the eeasy way is to choose the MSA (news, newspapers) and in parallel learn one dialects from :

  • Middle east : syria, Lebanon, Irak
  • Golf : Saudi, UAE, Qatari
  • Egyptian (Sudani too)
  • Maghreb (north africa): Marrocan (the most clean), Algerian (mixed with berber), Tunisian, or Lybian

I am native speaker (north Africa) and I can understand them all and when i meet a spesific dialect i use MSA

Hope this helps,
if you need any question do not refrain from asking


There are 50 mini stories for Levantine Arabic here on LingQ. That’s what I’m focusing on to get started. I have no interest in learning MSA and want to be able to speak with arabs from the levant in their native language.

1 Like

Oh, I didn’t know there were specific levantine mini stories. Thank you :slight_smile:

Sorry, I don’t speak spanish yet, but thank you for offering.

1 Like

I thought MSA sounded weird if not unrecognizable to the ear for those that spoke a dialect. Sorry, I’m still trying to figure when they use MSA, and when they don’t. I get News and media is in MSA, but what if I’m texting my friend? etc

1 Like


They will use dialects in writing on social media/texting as well. But if you write to them in MSA, they will understand and can respond usually too (of course some people cannot speak/write MSA but they understand it)


somehow you are right

Hi il will be ineterested , I learn Spanish and i Am arabic native


I am a native Arabic speaker from Saudi. One thing I want to point out is that we all (arabs) learn on MSA
in school, it is not a different language it is the Arabic language and the quran language and unless someone is illiterate
they should be able to understand you and communicate easily with you. Because of Hajj season here I meet with alot
of Arabic learners who speak MSA and it is great. Once you learn MSA then all you need is some phrases here and there.
I used to tutor arabic language students when I was in college so here is my prespective on learning the language:

  • Arabic will take you more time than euro-indian languages, it is an old language preserved that is why it has more
    grammar than modern languages.
  • As reward, arabic is latin of the muslim world, I think Kaufmann started with arabic and then farsi and turkish. Languages like Farsi, Urdu, hindi, Turkish, Kurdish, and Swahili take a lot of vocabulary from Arabic.
  • Start from the alphabet then simple grammar and listening, after that you will be able to read and listen and your
    arabic will improve significantly.
  • the foreign services institute has some free materials on Arabic dialects: Free FSI Arabic Language Courses - Written Arabic, Levantine Arabic, Saudi Arabic and Comparative Arabic.

wish you good luck :slight_smile:


Another good source for learning the different dialects comes from the GLOSS website run by the Defense Language Institute. It has a wide variety of lessons to listen to, at most levels, but there are a couple of drawbacks. One, it’s military so a decent chunk are skewed towards warmongering though generally not the lower level lessons. The principal drawback is that even the lowest levels require a somewhat decent command of Arabic otherwise it’s a pretty tough slog. Overall, though, it’s a helpful site to practice dialects (and MSA if you want to be able to read the newspaper and watch the news).

I also studied MSA first, at the university many years ago. The way we were taught was very heavy on grammar, reading, and writing, and we pretty much used English to discuss Arabic in the class. Not ideal! However, I am VERY thankful for that strong grammar foundation, because it has taken me far in self-study and some dialect studies post-university. There is most definitely value to learning dialects also. I specifically studied the Moroccan dialect in Morocco (and even lived with a Moroccan family), but it is probably the most different dialect fro MSA, and I literally had to start from the beginning, despite having already studied MSA for two years. As much as MSA helped with reading Arabic, I needed the Moroccan dialect to travel to remoter parts of the country, where illiteracy was higher, especially among women. MSA wouldn’t have gotten me very far in remote villages. I also lived in the Gulf, and found MSA helpful for reading and speaking with native Arabic speakers (as a woman, my opportunities for using Arabic were limited to work), and because in some Gulf countries the non-Arabic-speaking population is so high that the “dialect” foreigners speaks is a weird hodge-podge pidgin version of Arabic… Now I’m in Jordan and am keeping up both MSA (upper intermediate level) and just started the Jordanian dialect. I have to say, Jordanian is MUCH easier to learn than Moroccan, since it is closer to MSA and I have a firm foundation in MSA. In fact, I’ve learned probably only 100 words in Jordanian, and basic present and future tense, and already I can fill in lots of gaps with MSA, and take a stab at in in Jordanian, and be pretty close to getting it right. It is a lot easier for me than for my colleagues who have no MSA background. For everyone who says to just bypass MSA and go for a dialect, I would say it depends on what you want to use Arabic for. I am a firm supporter of learning MSA because there are a lot more materials out there, and it will help you greatly in learning future dialects (even Moroccan, to an extent). Also, if you find yourself needing Arabic in a professional setting, you will need MSA. I have to be able to discuss a variety of topics you’d find in a newspaper (economy, international relations, etc.), so MSA will always be important to me, but I suspect that if you want to have “meaty” discussions in a dialect with a native speaker, you’ll end up drawing on MSA for the vocabulary anyway.


I chose Egyptian dialect because I wanted to travel to an Arabic country to speak the language, and my wife said Egypt is the only Arab country she would go to with me. (Mostly to see the pyramids and the Nile). Come to find out, my job does some exchanges with Egypt, so win-win.