Arabic is not difficult

A common misconception about Arabic today is that it is an extremely difficult language to learn. I am writing this article to eliminate this misconception. Yes, Arabic can be hard, but no, it does not take years to learn if some effort is put into learning the language on a weekly basis. Everyone can learn Arabic, both young and old!

I generally try to back my claims with evidence. If Arabic is that difficult, then how is it that Hamza Yusuf, an American raised in California who started learning Arabic in his 20s, now speaks Arabic so fluently that many assume him to be a born Arab. Moreover, how has Tim Winter, also known as Abdal Hakim Murad and a lecturer at Cambridge University, mastered the language? Both of these men travelled to Arab countries to seek knowledge and, although they started learning Arabic as adults, they can now speak the language skillfully. This proves that Arabic is not such a difficult language to learn. My own mother, born and raised in Britain, managed to learn Arabic in her early 30s and can now have competent conversations with people.

The biggest challenge for Arabic learners is the lack of available resources and native-Arab people to practice with. Recently, with the emergence of sites such as ArabicPod.net, people are starting to realise that learning Arabic can be a great and pleasurable experience, far from the complex and stressful experience many claim it to be. Of course it’s inevitable that the learning of a new language means also understanding new grammatical rules different from those of your mother tongue. However, this shouldn’t mean that learning the language is exceptionally difficult. Every foreign tongue is different and unique in its own way. Thus, acquisition of a new language always requires determination and motivation.

We often see questions over the internet concerning the difficulty of learning Arabic. When People worldwide think about learning Arabic one of the first questions they ask is: “Is Arabic difficult?”. To summarize, it certainly is a challenge, but a challenge that can be easily surmounted . Do not listen to those who don’t speak a word of Arabic but claim it to be the most difficult language to learn. Give the language a chance, you will find it is well worth it!

Posted on July 16th, 2009 by moshaya

2 Responses to “Arabic is not difficult”

  1. Umm Isabel Says:

    Ahlan guys!

    Thanks, first of all, for a fantastic site — I’ve been going through the Intermediate lessons and I absolutely love it.

    Next, I’m so happy to see this clear and well-written defense of Arabic. I’m a non-native speaker with fluent Egyptian Arabic and I’ll be teaching and studying MSA this fall. It annoys me when people stress the difficulty of Arabic. Sure, there are tough things about it for native English speakers, but at the same time it’s an extremely logical language and the root system is a treasure for students. I hope I can give my own Arabic students a good attitude toward learning this language — and I’ll certainly recommend that they check out your site!

  2. Craig Says:

    I think it very much depends on which variety of Arabic you want to learn as difficulty varies from Modern Standard Arabic and the dialects. However, as a linguist who has studied all romance languages, Greek, Turkish, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Bulgarian, Farsi and Yoruba, I can honestly say that Arabic has been the most difficult language to learn for me. This is due to its many dialects, the vast vocabulary, the complex grammar of switching vowels to change meaning, the lack of vowels when writing in Arabic script etc. Arabic is an extremely difficult language to learn. Of course it is not impossible, but it is a long term investment and requires a lot of time and effort on behalf of the learner.
    However, if the learner likes a challenge, then Arabic is a good choice for it is like an enormous jigsaw puzzle.

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