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How do I learn Arabic?

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

In this Blog Post:

  • Importance of journaling + a free downloadable journal

  • Assessing your current situation and understanding the various language levels

  • SMART Arabic learning language goals

  • What topics will or should I learn about at Novice / A1 beginners level?

  • How long does it take to learn Arabic?

  • What are the top mistakes students make when learning Arabic?

All you need to know and plan your leaning, including a FREE editable electronic Arabic language learning reflective journal / instant PDF download.

No journey is successful without a clear plan. Although any Arabic learning course or foreign language course in general, whether online or in person, has general goals, it is important that you align and set your personal ones too, corresponding to your own abilities, needs and wants. This will help you continue and expand your learning beyond the classroom and long-term. Self-learning and development is an important skill that I strive to foster and support in my classrooms.

Importance of Journaling:

The attached Arabic learning reflection journal, will help you set individual goals. There are sample examples that will assist you in writing your own, with enough pages to go for a long time. The book can be printed or filled digitally by editing and writing in the text boxes. After each lesson you can add entries, for example, or you could add weekly reflections.

Taking ownership of your learning and using the SMART goal setting technique when it comes language acquisition. Moreover, journaling your progress can be helpful.

Assessing Your Current Situation & Understanding the Various Language Levels:

Before going ahead with your SMART goals, you need to assess your current situation, in terms of your current level of knowledge (perhaps taking a free online Arabic language level assessment / Click to check), specific learning needs and wants, and any obstacles facing your learning. If you are attending a course, this will most likely be discussed and facilitated by your teacher. For that reason, it is also important to be realistic and have an idea about the different language levels that one progresses through as they learn a foreign language. This can be checked in the following article, which compares ACTFL and CEFR standards.


The following is a summary infographic explaining expectations for Novice learners/Beginners in Arabic according to ACTFL standards(CEFR 0-A1):

As you can see from the picture, there are four areas to tackle when learning a new language:

"The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines are a description of what individuals can do with language in terms of speaking, writing, listening, and reading in real-world situations in a spontaneous and non-rehearsed context. For each skill, these guidelines identify five major levels of proficiency: Distinguished, Superior, Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice. The major levels Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice are subdivided into High, Mid, and Low sublevels. The levels of the ACTFL Guidelines describe the continuum of proficiency from that of the highly articulate, well-educated language user to a level of little or no functional ability." (ACTFL, 2012)

SMART Arabic Learning Language Goals:

Going back to goal setting and planning your learning, your SMART goals must be:

Specific: I want to get to A1/B1 level... I want to pass a certain test. I want to be able to converse with family/friends about specific subjects. I would like to expand my office/business relevant vocabulary and conversation skills...

Measurable: I will study for 15 minutes daily; take 2 weekly lessons; watch a video every day; write a paragraph every day; do 30 minutes of language exchange with someone twice a week...

Attainable: goals you can reach, smaller milestones are better. Aim at the near future and more realistic goals. Ex: I will learn 25 office vocabulary this week and use them in sentences, instead of 200 or just saying I want to improve my vocabulary.

Relevant: goals have to be relevant to what you are passionate about and what motivates you, example being able to use the language on holiday or for a business lunch.

Time-bound: I will achieve A1 level in xx months/weeks.

You will see more examples in the excerpt below:

Download by clicking below:

Reflective Journal-Learning Arabic With Angela-copyrighted
Download PDF • 6.85MB

What topics will or should I learn about at Novice / A1 beginners level?

You will of course be learning to read and write Arabic, as well as familiarize yourself with the sounds of a new language. In addition, the following are the most common topics for beginners:

  • Personal information and introductions; greetings and salutations

  • Cultural awareness and exposure; general etiquette

  • Offers and requests (can you ..., do you want to ... ?)

  • Speaking about and introducing family members

  • Counting numbers, shapes, colors, animals, professions

  • Speaking about school/study

  • Speaking about work

  • Speaking about the weather

  • Daily life and routine; most common verbs

  • Describing places, homes (... is big/small/red/etc.), as well as people (tall, short...)

  • Speaking about food and shopping, food (e.g. ordering something at the restaurant; buying something from the market...)

  • Directions and getting around

  • Speaking about holidays, vacations and travel; airport, etc...

  • Speaking about hobbies

Here is an example from my course (stage 2) for breakthrough beginners, just after the reading and writing stage:

As you can see the modern approach to language learning is far from grammar drills and verb conjugation lists, with the focus shifting towards building communication and enhancing confidence in using the language, rather than just learning about it. In addition to reading and writing, there is a strong focus on listening and speaking, being the most natural and intuitive ways of learning a new language. There is also a great deal of facilitation by focusing on the most commonly used vocabulary and phrases, taking a planned and specific approach to the learning process, rather than a haphazard bumpy road.

How long does it take to learn Arabic?

Studies vary about the number of hours required to reach an advanced level in Arabic, ranging from 1600 to 2400, depending on several factors, such as native tongue, motivation, etc. Languages are divided into groups according to their levels of difficulty. Arabic is in the highest band, which is group five, next to Chinese, Japanese and Korean. English is level one on the other hand. To achieve a beginner's level, you need around 90 hours. For an intermediate level, an additional 360 hours, and for an advanced level, about 800 additional hours. Of course, the number of hours depends on the factors mentioned earlier. For some nationalities, learning Arabic will be easier, especially if they had exposure to the sounds of the language, for example through reciting the Quran, or having similar sounds in their language. While for others, such as native English speakers they will need to spend more time on listening activities and getting used to the sounds of the language.

Watch this video for detailed information about:

  • The four Skills of language learning

  • Level of difficulty of Arabic

  • Number of hours for each level

  • My complete program in spoken Lebanese Arabic

  • Importance of consistency in learning

What are the top mistakes students make when learning Arabic?

There's a number of mistakes that students make when learning Arabic including the following (Watch the video below for more):

  • Being afraid of making mistakes

  • Having unrealistic expectations

  • Not practicing spaced repetition

  • Learning randomly without a SMART plan or goal, or learning random vocabulary

  • Not being consistent

To book a course or lessons with me check out:

Free and paid courses in Arabic:

For spoken or colloquial Lebanese Arabic dialect:

I hope you enjoy the free eBook! (When sharing, please always share from the blog post link and mention the source). Don't miss out on any new additions and free resources, subscribe to the blog (click subscribe from the main menu). And stay tuned by Liking our Facebook Page. It's the best way to stay in touch! You can also subscribe and watch our useful videos on YouTube, including short stories with explanation, one minute learning, and other!


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