Which Arabic dialect do we teach?

As this is one of the most common questions we get asked, I have decided to write a brief entry on this blog to clarify the matter. Firstly, I would like to explain that we tend to teach Arabic that can be understood and used throughout the Arab world. To achieve this, we teach the “common colloquial” Arabic, that is shared by all Arabs, as well as classical Arabic.

An example of a colloquial word is the word فلوس which is pronounced ‘fuloos’ and means money. This word is colloquial and is used everywhere. The classical word for this is مال which is pronounced ‘maal’. So we try to use such common Arabic words in addition to classical Arabic as we believe this is the most effective way to learn Arabic.

We don’t believe one should concentrate on a specific dialect only used in certain parts of the Arab world when one can learn Arabic that is widely understood throughout the Arab world. It is not necessary to learn the Egyptian dialect if your travels take you to Egypt. Our Arabic lessons will enable you to communicate, not only there, but also in other Arab regions.

To cater for all needs, we occasionally teach dialects in our lessons but we always mention the dialect that is used. An example of this can be found in the beginner lesson called ‘wake up!’ which uses the Sham dialect.

For those of you who are still unsure about which dialect to learn, we advise you to avoid worrying about dialects too much and start learning the Arabic that we teach, which will certainly enable you to become more universally communicative in Arabic. After learning this ‘Universal Arabic’, you will, undoubtedly, find learning the various Arabic dialects much simpler, if you so wish to delve further into the wonderfully, rich world of the Arabic language!

Posted on May 4th, 2008 by moshaya

9 Responses to “Which Arabic dialect do we teach?”

  1. e-Arabic Learning Portal (eALP) » Blog Archive » ArabicPod.net : Free Arabic Podcast & Vodcast Lessons Says:

    [...] The dialect taught on this podcast is “common colloquial” Arabic, common across all Arabic dialects, as well as Standard Arabic. Read more about this. [...]

  2. The Arabic Student Says:

    This is a good idea. Everyone uses fuloos, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say maal outside of a classroom. Unless it’s Egyptian and they’re saying like “what’s wrong with that?” ماله maalu. There’s a Nancy Ajram song where she says بحبه و ماله ba7ebu wa maalu and for the longest time I thought she meant “I love him and his money”. lol

  3. Joel Says:

    I’ve been looking for exactly that! Each time I used to tell people that about the kind of Arabic I want to learn (“common colloquial Arabic” as you aptly call it) they would start telling me about the merits of learning فصحى – or sometimes a particular عامية – while I have noted a long time ago that Arab-speakers have no problem talking to each other without resorting to ‘recitation’ – and I understand the amusement that befalls native speakers when students out of the classroom speak as if they were reading the TV news when they just try to buy a coke :-)

    Thanks guys, I’m really happy about what you are doing and wish you loads of success. Hope to get in touch if I get to visit London or otherwise. Might come up with some ideas for developing the offer as well.

  4. Amin Says:

    I’m not a linguist , but a native speaker of Arabic

    i think its easier and more practical to teach either the standard formal Arabic ( Fosha ) or one of the dialects .. i can’t imagine what common colloquial looks like , i think as a SPOKEN dialect it would sound bizzare in everywhere in Arabic speaking countries , plus its would always be lacking a reference , and therefore the speaker of it might always find problems in finding expressions , but still i think it would be useful for understanding ..

    variations among Arabic dialects are much larger than those among English accents , here even the word order , grammar , intonation and vocabulary differs .so different that sometimes spoken Arabic dialects aren’t mutually intelligible .

    and by the way here in Sudan we use ( goroosh ) rather than Floos , Foot means go away , or go , while in the Levant it means come in , just few examples to show how it would be difficult to synthesize a common colloqal

  5. chris Says:

    I have no idea what “common colloquial” Arabic is and this is the first time I’ve heard of it. Do you mean, perhaps, Modern Standard Arabic?

  6. Arabicpod: Arabic Learning Podcast | ArabCrunch Says:

    [...] podcasts teach both Fusha (classical Arabic) and colloquial lessons. However, the colloquial language used is a standard dialect that can be understood everywhere in [...]

  7. anna-k Says:

    Salam alykom!
    Thank you for your wonderful lessons. They helped me a lot to understand with the arab people i have met! Lately I have finished an arabic basic course,dialect hijazi, and i liked it the most of all :) i would like to hear as well in your audio lessons some hijazi dialect! thank you and wish you best of luck ! fe amanillah

  8. Valdas Says:

    Arabs themselves appreciate Fusha but some feel uneasy speaking it. For foreigners even slight differences might be a problem. I still remember when in Syria in Institute I was asked the simple question which I could not understand after 9 monthes of intensive course. The question was “shu ‘ala” (what did he say). To find a native speaker who would adapt his language to the clean fusha is not so easy, unless he or she is some mualim.

    I give you one simple example to illustrate the differences of Arab dialects. I drove a taxi with one woman of Marrocan origin. As a migrants child she knew only Marrocan dialect, because she never learned Fusha. And she could not maintain a small talk with the taxi driver. She felt frustrated and later gave up idea of communicating in Arabic. Her reference to Marrocan Arabic was of no use, since Syrians did not understand it at all.

    This example shows that Fusha as a reference is necessary for Arabs from different parts of Arab world to communicate. Soon I go to Tunisia and will be able to test it.

  9. urdun Says:

    Yes, standard arabic is useful however, If you learn standard Arabic and to go Morocco, folks might understand you, but they will not answr you back in standard becaue ITS NOT NATURAL. Its hard to improve classical arabic in the street becuase you won’t hear it spoken back to you!

    Its as if someone came to the US or Uk and said….I have commenced my tasks; instead of, I started my work. Commence is way too formal. I have decreased the sound on the radio, instead of “I tunred down the radio.” decrease is way too formal. Thats how you may sound to the native on the street. Words like ذهب, أرى, شاهد
    are too fromal in everyday arabic. NOBODY USES THEM.

    The words in all the dilalects come from arabic, where else would they come from, outter space? What changes then is they way the words are prounced, the way the verbs are constructed and words can change meaning from classical to dialect ( with the exception of words from other languages….which occur in all languages), the vast majority of dialect are from classical arabic.

    take the word “to close (a door) in one country the word to close as in Sakkar—used in jordan, syria,lebnon is dialect, however, in Morocco its considered classical. Aghlaq is dialect in egypt but classical in Jordan, Morocco. In Morroco to close is “sadd” but in Jordan/egpyt its considered classical. The point is, Sakkar, Sadd, Aghlaq are all words from classicla arabic, they dont come from outter space. the way the verb is conjugated and vocalized…yes changes from classicl

    IN short. to go from classical to a dialect there is one huge fundamental differnce which is that in the dilaect, the ending vowel is not prounced….and there you have it….the dialect. AAkoolooo ( I eat in classical) is Aakool is dialect without the “oo” at the end. dont u just love it! : )

    in the end to talk about daliy life things, forget about classical arabic structures because they are quite useless. to talk about about politics and the typs of conversations you see on ARabic talk shows, tv channels….yes classical is most helpful!! that is classical without the vowels at the end. i love arabic

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