If you are one of the millions of people living in New York City, you probably already know that the city is a melting pot of different languages and cultures. Walking down the street, you will hear many languages being spoken, and you may not always understand what groups of people are talking about.

No matter how old you are or what stage of life you are in, it is never too late to learn a new language. Growing up in a large and multicultural city like Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles means you will come into contact with different cultures and languages. If English is the only language you can speak, then you could be missing out on a world of other cultures around you.

Arabic is one of those languages that is not extremely popular in the United States. Unlike Spanish, it is not taught at most public schools but the Arabic language itself actually has a large native speaker count. With there being a lack of Arabic speakers, knowing Arabic can give you an edge especially in the job market especially in the U.S. government. If you are interested in the Islam religion, knowing some Arabic can help you with understanding the religion as well.

Once you are sure that Arabic is the right language for you, it's important to remember to focus on your end goal. Arabic students should expect to practice the language regularly and invest time and energy into their studies if they want to become fluent in the language.

two girls sitting next to each other studying from their laptops
Be prepared to invest time and energy into learning Arabic if you want to be fluent. (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)

How Hard is it To Learn Arabic?

If you don't have any prior knowledge of Arabic, you may have heard some myths about it like how difficult it is to learn the language and how confusing the script is. Although this is partly true, especially for English speakers who are used to the English alphabet, learning the Arabic script is not very difficult at all.

In the Arabic alphabet there is a total of 28 letters that are joined together when writing, and for non Arabic speaker this can look like a bunch of squiggles and dots. For each alphabet there are only 5 basic shapes for a beginner student to learn. The script is also written from right to left by pushing the pen down the paper.

Another myth that you may have heard is that Arabic is too exotic sounding for native English speakers to learn. As a potential Arabic speaker, you can relax because the truth is, there are only two or three sounds that are not found in English. The rest of the sounds are similar to English and does not require much effort to learn to speak.

For those who are not fans of grammar in any language, you'll be glad to learn that Arabic grammar is one of the simplest compared to other languages. If you have been exposed to languages like German and French before, you will be relieved to learn that Arabic only has two tenses - the past tense and the non-past tense. You also have the choice of numerous dialects of Arabic to choose from, with some dialects being easier to learn than others.

Arabic Schools and Institutes in NYC

Living in major cities such as Philadelphia, Houston, and of course - New York City, one of the major benefits is that you have access to numerous resources especially schools and institutions where you can learn Arabic. A quick online search can locate many of these institutes and schools. As a soon-to-be student, make sure to do enough research before you select a school that will meet your learning needs.

The Arabic School of New York

When you participate in Arabic language training at the Arabic School New York, you are enrolling in a comprehensive program and will complete coursework in formal and spoken Arabic. Classes here are open to students of all skill levels, but all incoming students must take a language placement test before they can sign up for a class to make sure the learning will be at their skill level. This placement test will test you on listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

If you choose to study at this school, you also have the option to learn from a variety of different textbooks. The choice of textbook will not impact your learning experience and you will be working closely with your Arabic instructors to learn from the book’s strengths and compensate for any weaknesses with the appropriate extra course materials.

The courses also uses multi-media materials such as texts and videos to make the learning process fun and interesting. All course materials including textbooks authored by instructors at the school will be provided at no extra charge.

a boy sitting next to his tutor looking into a computer
Enrolling in a comprehensive program is a good way to learn formal and spoken Arabic. (Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash)

Fordham University Arabic Learning Programs

At this private university in new York City, students interested in Middle Eastern culture and languages can enrol in Arabic learning programs to gain a comprehensive understanding of Arabic. A specialized Middle east program offers courses on the Arabic language, history, anthropology, political science, religion, literature, and more.

Partnerships with other universities are also available for exchange programs. Some of these partner universities include the University of Nizwa in Oman, Al Thuraya in Jordan, Al Akhawayn University in Morocco, Qatar University in Qatar, Middlebury Language Schools in Oakland, California, the School of Professional Studies in New York City, and the Lebanese American University also located in New York City.

Hills Learning

At Hills Learning, the school has been around since 2009 have focuses on teaching foreign languages to New Yorkers. In fact, the private language learning school has also been accredited since 2016. When you enrol as a student in a language course at Hills Learning, you will feel heard and your needs and goals will be met by your teacher. The tutors and teachers at the school also pride themselves on being there every step and every lesson in your Arabic learning journey.

Some benefits that Hills Learning offers their students are smaller class sizes with a maximum of seven students in each class, the option of private individual classes to accelerate your learning, quality lessons and teachers delivering a well-developed program, and a useful assessment system to help students keep track of their progress in each semester. Online class options are also available for remote learning if you are enable to commute to the school.

Finding Arabic Tutors in New York City

There are many ways an Arabic language student can benefit from the help of a dedicated language tutor. If you find yourself struggling in your Arabic class, you may want to enlist the help of a tutor to improve your speaking, reading, and writing skills. Individual tutoring sessions are also very helpful if you are not formally enrolled in an Arabic language course, as those who are self-learning Arabic can meet up regularly with a tutor to keep themselves on track.

To find an Arabic tutor near you in New York City, try doing simple online searches using key terms such as "Arabic tutors in LA", "Arabic tutors in Houston", and of course "Arabic tutors in NYC". Using websites such as Superprof can also help, as you get the option of filtering down potential tutors using criteria such as experience, location, and cost.

A woman sitting next to a table holding a tablet
Taking virtual tutoring sessions with an Arabic tutor also helps you improve your skills. (Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

Another way to find an Arabic tutor near you is to use the power of your social network. You can use word-of-mouth by asking those around you for introductions. Your Arabic course teacher may know a tutor or two who is willing to take on a new student. You can also go on social media and join hobby or language exchange groups where you can get the contact information of local Arabic tutors.

If you are still having trouble finding a tutor, take your time to create ads. You can make paper ads to post in and around your neighbourhood areas such as the local library and grocery store, or you can place digital ads on websites such as Craigslist. With some effort you will definitely find the right tutor to meet all your learning needs.

Arabic Learning Tips

When you are picking up a new language, there are some things you can do as a student to improve your learning process and productivity. No matter what learning method you use, it's important to remember the first rule is that you must be consistent. Setting a specific block of time each day to practice your Arabic will help you improve a lot compared to doing random language learning sessions once every few weeks.

As with all other languages, try to focus on the four different aspects of the language - reading, writing, listening, and speaking equally. Have a set strategy to improve each aspect, for example, an Arabic tutor can definitely help you improve your pronunciation and speaking, so try to save your tutoring sessions specifically for that. On the other hand, learning the alphabet involves a lot of memorization so you can use your own free time to work on that instead of enlisting the help of a tutor.

Specifically, Arabic has many dialects so it's also important to remember to stick to a single chosen dialect and focus on that in the beginning. This prevents you from getting mixed up if you are trying to learn multiple dialects at the same time. For a more practical experience, forget the grammar and pick up the language through videos, movies, and everyday usage. This will make learning more fun instead of tedious!

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Former high-school tutor with a passion for science and technology, I now work in the software industry and enjoy reading and learning about all kinds of topics.