Arabic is ranked as one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn and also as one of the most important. Business and travel opportunities are booming in the Middle East and Africa and knowing how to speak Arabic is a must if you want to engage in seamless business transitions in the aforementioned areas. Furthermore, knowing Arabic can also guarantee you better work opportunities on the home front as many government organizations are willing to pay top dollar these days for people who can converse in the language. There are obviously many great reasons to learn Arabic, but perhaps the difficulty factor is what is holding you back. If so, it’s key to know what big challenges you may face when you try to tackle this language, so read on to discover the top three most difficult things about Arabic and how to conquer them!
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Written Arabic is beautiful and artistic --but difficult for non-native speakers to learn. Many people tend to stop shortly after beginning simply due to the fact that written Arabic is so drastically different from the Latin-based alphabets English speakers are familiar with.
How to conquer it: Unlike Chinese which requires students to learn thousands of separate characters, Arabic has a 28-letter alphabet. Although this alphabet is still quite different from the English one, it’s not as tricky as it’s been made out to be. Spend some time memorizing the letters and you’ll be that much closer to conquering script!
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Pronunciation is one of the most important and difficult parts of learning Arabic. You can learn grammar, vocabulary, and how to read script to your heart’s content, but if no one can understand anything you say it really isn’t much good, is it? Arabic features a lot of sounds which aren’t found in other languages. Most even require a specific articulation at the back of the throat which, if you don’t get right, makes everything you say sound like gibberish.
How to conquer it: The best way to go about perfecting your pronunciation is to practice. A lot. Hold conversations with yourself, whether you’re in the car or in the shower, so that your tongue starts to get used to the language. Record yourself having a conversation and play it back so you know what to focus on. And, of course, find a native speaker who can help you out by listening and correcting your speech!
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Just as Turkish’s SOV (Subject-Object-Verb) word order tends cause learners to struggle, Arabic’s VSO (Verb-Subject-Object) order will drive you absolutely nuts if you’re not diligent. Even if you get used to the word order, there are other aspects of the grammar which can be tough to tackle. A present-tense verb has 13 forms in Arabic, everything must be addressed according to gender, and even saying ‘Thank you’ is not as straightforward as in other languages.
How to conquer it: Conquering Arabic grammar can take a lot of hard work (and maybe some blood, sweat, and tears too), but it can be done. Experts agree that the best way to help cement grammatical structures in a natural way is by reading a lot of Arabic script. Whether delving into children’s stories or reading articles in the newspaper, you’ll slowly become accustomed to Arabic grammar and even pick up some useful vocabulary along the way.
The important thing to remember with any language you choose to study is that commitment is the key factor in whether or not you can successfully learn it. Stick with the language and you’ll conquer it. Of course, excellent language teachers and useful online tools such as free placement tests help keep your knowledge fresh, making your Arabic studies less of a painful process and more of an enjoyable language journey!