For many people living in the United States who use English as their primary language, learning a second language can be a lot of work. If you are not sure about whether you should pick up a new language or not, consider that mastering another language can open up a lot of opportunities. You can communicate with people from different cultures and backgrounds as well as be exposed to job opportunities.

No matter where you are in life or how old you are, it is never too late to start learning a new language. If you are currently living in a large and multicultural city in the United States such as Boston, Chicago, or New York, you will probably come into contact with people from different cultures and languages including Arabic speakers. With Arabic having a large native speaker count especially for countries in the Middle East, it is a good language to learn if you are looking for something more exotic besides the usual Spanish, French, or German.

A young man sitting next to a table staring down holding a pencil
Learning a second language can be a lot of work (Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash)

Learning Arabic with a Tutor

One of the decisions that you'll be making before you start learning Arabic is how will you learn? For some people, this means taking group lessons at their local community college or private learning school. For others, this means hiring a private tutor to work them on their own time and terms. Since the costs of working with a private tutor can be expensive, it's good to think about whether you need a tutoring service or not.

If you are already enrolled in Arabic lessons but are struggling or having a hard time staying on track or keeping progress, a tutor can also keep you on track with regular meetup sessions. When you have someone there to hold you accountable for your progress, you will feel more motivated and more likely to make efforts to learn. If you are not enrolled in a group Arabic course, you can still hire a tutor especially if you are learning on your own. Tutors can save you the time and energy you might be spending on finding learning materials and researching concepts.

Of course, not everyone has the extra resources to pay for the services of a tutor. But don't fret, with some research and negotiation it is possible to hire a tutor who can meet your budget range. Alternatively, you can consider joining language exchange groups online where you can be matched up with someone who is interested in learning your language. Your language partner will teach you his or her language while expecting you to do the same in return, at no cost to the both of you.

Learning at Arabic Cultural Centres

If you are interested in signing up for Arabic lessons near you, the next step is to find Arabic learning resources near you. This can be an easy task especially if you live in a major city in the United States such as Houston, LA, and Philadelphia where there are more resources and language schools to choose from.

Take advantage of your location by researching schools that offer Arabic lessons near you and then choose one that will meet your learning needs. With the help of the internet, you can access online reviews and research potential language schools to make sure their class times and programming meet your requirements. You can also pick and choose organizations that meet your budget range as well as your location requirements.

Man sitting outside on the concrete writing in a notebook with a pencil
Finding Arabic learning resources near you is a good way to make progress in your studies (Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash)

Cloudberry Language School

One good language school to consider is the Cloudberry Language School located in the city of Chicago. This school focuses on teaching languages that are less mainstream in the United States such as Arabic and Russian. Students of this school can choose from programs such as the Pre-Travel Program, Cooking Immersion Program, Film & Culture Workshops, Corporate Language Lessons, and Government Solutions.

All programs offered at this school combine language learning experience with cultural understanding and education. For those on a budget, they can sign up for a group of classes that only cost $20 per session and involves two students working together with a teacher or tutor via Zoom or Skype. A discount is also available if you purchase a bundle of ten classes for $320.

Fordham University Arabic Learning Programs

Fordham University located in New York City is a university that offers Arabic learning programs at the university level. The highly specialized Middle east program offers courses on the Arabic language, history, anthropology, political science, religion, literature, and more.

Students here can also take exchange programs with partner universities. 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.

University Level Arabic

If you are an adult Arabic learner or if you are currently enrolled in University, you can take Arabic courses at the university level. For example, the University of Houston's College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences offers Arabic courses all the way up to advanced levels. A course that beginner Arabic learners can take is called ARAB 1501 where students will be introduced to modern spoken and written Arabic.

For experienced Arabic learner, they can take a higher level Arabic course such as ARAB 3301: Advanced Modern Standard Arabic I. In this course, students will complete readings of Arabic materials such as poems, short stories, plays, and newspaper articles. Through these materials, you will deal with social, political, and cultural issues. You will also develop your Arabic writing by responding to the readings and composing your own pieces.

Arabic Cultural Centers

Many major and multicultural cities in the United States have non-profit organizations that work to promote Arabic education and culture. These organizations usually offer Arabic programming as well as language lessons often at subsidized costs and can be a good meeting point to meet fellow Arabic learners and speakers.

For example, the Center for Arabic Culture in Boston gives the general public the opportunity to learn more about the different aspects of Arab culture through their programs. These programs will have activities ranging from learning the Arabic language, Arabic music, dancing, and calligraphy.

One language course the public can take at this cultural center is the online Arabic program. This program is highly versatile, cost-effective, and innovative and is designed for students living anywhere regardless of their geographic location. Students going through this Arabic language program will develop proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking Arabic. The curriculum focuses on active-learning strategies and can accommodate learners from all backgrounds, experience levels, and age groups.

Arabic Essentials for the Beginner

To help make your Arabic learning easier, educate yourself on some basic knowledge about the language to start. The first fact you should know about Arabic is that it is written from right to left by pushing on the pen instead of pulling on it. For those into calligraphy, this can be a fun experience as you can spend time perfecting your written script.

Another fact about Arabic is that it is also a phonetic language like English so the pronunciation of the letters will stay the same as the way it is written. Also, there isn't a lot of letters in the alphabet that requires a new learner to memorize. While English has 26 letters in the alphabet, Arabic has 28 and some Arabic letters even have a counterpart in English! So as soon as you can memorize all the letters in the Arabic alphabet, you can make your way to learning to spell new words right away!

a closeup of an open book with writing in Arabic
Arabic has 28 letters in its alphabet and is written from right to left (Photo by Ayesha Firdaus on Unsplash)

One of the difficulties that come with learning the Arabic language is the different dialects and the fact that there is an informal and formal type of Arabic. Before you start learning, you must first decide if you’ll be studying Quranic or Modern Standard Arabic. Most students will be studying Modern Standard as this type of Arabic is more useful on an everyday basis. Another difficulty is that Arabic has many dialects, so you will also need to choose a dialect to focus on if you want to be successful in your learning.

Tips for Studying a Second Language

Learning a second language is like picking up any new skill, it will require a lot of work and dedication. But if you study smarter and not harder, as well as study with passion and dedication, you will succeed. We also have tips that you can use to make your learning journey easier.

The first tip is to find the time of day that works better for you. For example, do you remember vocabulary better in the morning or the afternoon? If you absorb information better in the mornings, then schedule your Arabic lessons or study sessions in the morning for the best results.

The next tip is to practice and immerse yourself in the language as much as you can. Now, this does not mean that you should move to an Arabic speaking country at your first opportunity. Instead, try bringing the language home to you by labeling items in your home with Arabic labels. You can also put up Arabic signs or posters everywhere so that you will come into contact with the language every day.

The last tip is to make new friends who are studying Arabic as well! Having a friend who you can talk to about your progress as well as provide the support you need if you are struggling or going through a tough time in your learning process.

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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.