Learning Arabic, my journey of 1001 nights

I have started learning Arabic. The first step for me is the writing system. Just as I have had quite a bit of exposure to Romance languages, Asian languages, Slavic languages, even Germanic languages,… I see this a voyage into the Middle East, and Central Asia, which will eventually include not only Arabic, but also Farsi and Turkish. It will be a journey of a few years, maybe 1001 nights.

I will comment here from time to time. I look forward to questions, comments, suggestions etc. from others.

I did a video on that subject today. Learning Arabic: My First Steps - YouTube


I found a recourse for learning the alphabet: Arabic

Clever title. My sincerest wishes for the best of luck. I am pleased to see this will be a long-term commitment (maybe like Russian), as opposed to the dabbling of sorts with Ukranian, Romanian, Polish, Greek, and Hebrew. I know those came up as asides to other projects, to prepare for an upcoming trip, and/or were related to languages you knew well.

Having reached fluency in Spanish, I have a few other goals with it before I move on to something else: French, Russian, or Chinese, most likely. As I’ve written here many times, Arabic was off the table for the short to medium term because 1) it was still only a Beta language at LingQ; and 2) you hadn’t tried it yet.

I’m looking forward to you slaying this beast.

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Good luck!

Steve have you actually tried importing the pdf? I’ve never been able to import arabic from amazon.

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i’ve thought about learning arabic and farsi but have never got around to it despite interacting with people who speak these languages on a daily basis are you learning a arabic dialect or Msa steve?

Best wishes with this new endeavour, Steve. I suspect you’ll find the script significantly harder than Russian or Greek!

Like others, I’d be interested to know whether you’re learning Standard Arabic or Egyptian? (Or another dialect?)

Watch the video :wink:

Ach so! He talks about it there?

(I guess I’ve been unmasked as a less-than-diligent follower of Steve’s youtube vids! :-D)

BTW Don’t you just have to hate Steve?! :-0

I recently packed away all of my Arabic resources (Linguaphone MSA, Linguaphone Egyptian, Hans Wehr dictionary, various visual dictionaries, Teach Yourself, etc, etc) in a box up in the roof.

He just made me go up there and get it out again!

It’s not fair!

Good luck Steve!

The script is not that difficult to learn but reading at a decent pace takes much more time. The hardest thing are foreign names… I’ve learnt to rely on crests instead of names when I watch football on Arabic channels.

Once you have learnt the script, the FSI course is very good for those who don’t mind its old-fashioned aspect. The content they used is very interesting if you want to know more on Arab history and politics.

A good English-Arabic online dictionary that gives short vowels: http://aratools.com/

Thanks. I printed it out and will refer to it regularly as I work my way through these texts at LingQ.

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Thanks. I wouldn’t call my study of Ukrainian, Polish, Greek, dabbling. I understand almost all Ukrainian and can speak on a variety of subjects. Polish needs a little work but I understand a lot, have read books, and listened to audio books. Will get back to it. Greek was still 8-9 months. Romanian I didn’t get far into but still enjoyed political and historical podcasts. Hebrew I never really got into. " A language is the only thing worth knowing even poorly", Kato Lomb, famous Hungarian polyglot.


I bought the PDF from another site but still had problems with the text in LingQ. I will let you know how I make out.

I think I will focus on MSA.


Thanks. Yes standard. That is the version that our mini stories are being translated into.

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I had a look at the FSI but there is a lot of grammar explanation up front. I will come back to them after I have ingested more of the language. I will check to see if we can integrate this dictionary with LingQ. Thanks.

Oh absolutely. With “dabbling,” I only meant it in the same sense you have described “being a dilettante,” rather than to pass judgment on results, which have been amazing, btw. In this regard your Ukrainian experience is my favorite: You’re studying Korean when turmoil and the Russian army arrive in Ukraine. Then, within three years and other languages in between, you’re calling into Russian radio shows to comment on the state of affairs.


The ‘standard Arabic versus colloquial’ thing is a genuine conundrum for learners, I find.

If I were going to (re)start Arabic (oh no, please don’t tempt me!!) I would be very inclined to go with Egyptian colloquial this time. Aside from the fact that it’s a variant which is actually spoken by significant numbers of folks, it’s also quite a bit less complicated.

And yet…any educated person in the Arab world who writes something is almost always going to use MSA rather than a colloquial dialect. So if the primary purpose is to read Arabic, then choosing MSA would pretty much seem like a no-brainer…

Then again, I think Professor Arguelles once said that developing the ability to read advanced texts in Arabic is an extremely long and arduous road - even for an iron-man style learner like him! I guess it’d be relatively easy to gain a purely conversational level of competence in Arabic (as indeed it is for any language.)

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Back in the Dark Ages, when I knew a good amount of Spanish, but before I really got into LingQ, I played with the FSI course (the originals). It was tough to stay motivated, but I did like some of the cultural stuff since it was far better than the usual “this is how the natives have this festival” type fare. Later on I did use it to cherry-pick for examples/drills to focus on one very specific thing I wanted practice “noticing.” Other than that, zzzzzzzzzzz