Is Arabic Hard to Learn? Is it really difficult? No, absolutely not despite what you might have heard. Learning Arabic language is actually quite simple unless you’ve chosen take a difficult method of learning.
If you look at anything there is always an easy way to do it and a difficult way. The key is to know what the easy way to learn Arabic actually looks like. So in this article we’ll discuss exactly what you need to know to make your Arabic studies easy.
Some of the common misconceptions about learning Arabic are:
Arabic is the Hardest Language in the world
Arabic is really hard because the Grammar is impossible.
The Arabic language has too many exotic sounds
It’s too difficult for an English speaker
It takes many years to become fluent in Arabic
You have to have a really good memory.
So, let me just start off by saying all of the above reasons are not true. There are different reasons why people think these things and insha’Allah I’ll address them here.
The Arabic language is the language of Revelation, it’s the language Allah chose for the Quran and in it He says:
“Indeed, I have made the Quran easy for remembrance and understanding, will anyone then remember”
Surah Al Qamar,v17
Learning the Language is simple if you take the right steps as you’ll see here, but more importantly you’ll see why people are finding it difficult and how you can overcome and avoid these problems.
Arabic is Easy to learn when you follow the Natural steps of Progress
One of the core reasons that people find Arabic hard to learn is that they are approaching the language all wrong. This is unfortunately due to the fact that many teachers and institutions are throwing a beginner Arabic student into the deep end of the language.
Language has a natural order and progression. Comprehension comes first just as it would do for a young child learning her first language. The parents talk to the child from birth until the child starts to respond by imitating the parents.
Most of us find that the cute stage when the baby starts to speak. Just like this, a beginner Arabic student needs to learn to understand first before starting to speak.
The reason people are finding it difficult to learn Arabic is not because the language is difficult, or that they need a personal one to one teacher. Think about it, people learn English just by watching Movies.
It’s essentially the same process as the child learning from the mother. You keep watching and listening until you understand. Then you begin to repeat the words until it becomes easy to speak.
Sounds easy right?
So, the difficulty comes from the approach to Arabic. New students are learning Grammar instead of learning to understand Arabic first. Sounds silly huh? I mean you wouldn’t start teaching a baby English grammar, would you? Nope. You’d just speak and keep speaking until the baby starts to respond.
Rules are the last stage of learning a language and usually we get started on rules only when you can already understand what you’re hearing and what you’re reading.
THE SOLUTION: If You Want to Make Learning Arabic Easy
Avoid learning Grammar first. Leave those books, ‘Madinah Arabic’, and ‘Grammar made easy’ till you can understand the language. Instead, find yourself a language course that teaches you to understand first.
Yep, I said leave the Grammar. I know many Arabic teachers will disagree with me, but that’s because they themselves probably learned the language the difficult way. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying it can’t be done that hard way, but it’s the most difficult way to learn the language.
And the vast majority of people just do not have that sort of time to invest. So, if you want to learn the language faster and with an easier natural way, study the Arabic language for comprehension first, and then learn the Grammar once you understand the language.
I’ve been teaching Quranic Arabic for over five years now Alhamdulilah. And having taught hundreds of students I can tell you from experience that the students really make good progress and learn to understand fast when they focus on comprehension first.
So, now you can understand why people say Arabic is the hardest language, they’ve taken the difficult grammar centric route to learning.
They say Arabic Grammar is Impossible
Well if it’s the first thing you study in the language, you will find it difficult because you do not understand the language yet. Since we already know that Arabic Grammar should be the last or later stage of language learning, you know now that if you make it the first stage, you will find it extremely difficult, no doubt.
If however, you start the Grammar AFTER you already understand what you hear and read, then I’m pretty sure you won’t find it difficult insha’Allah.
Also, it’s important to understand that when you study Arabic Grammar, you don’t need to know advanced Grammar as a beginner to intermediate Arabic student. The level of Grammar should be commensurate with your level of comprehension. A teacher who can see that you have good listening comprehension and reading comprehension will be able to gauge where you should be in terms of the rules.
Watch the Easy way to learn Arabic explainer
Choose Proven System for Success
The key word to remember here is ‘System’. Having taught hundreds of students I can tell you that one the main reasons why people fail to learn Arabic is that they don’t follow a system or course which takes them step by step through all of the required skills.
Every Arabic Language student needs to Cover the following skills in the learning Journey:
- Listening Comprehension
- Reading Comprehension
- Speaking and Writing
If you follow this order of learning, you will find that it’s very natural and you will start to pick up the Quranic Arabic faster than you thought was possible insha’Allah.
Also it’s important that you study the skills in an integrated fashion, so that it simulates real life usage. What I mean is don’t just study one skill in an isolated way, because you’ll find that a really boring way of learning, and you’ll struggle to stay motivated if you do that.
If you pick up random books because they came recommended, they may be the best books in the world, but because you don’t have a clear structured path to learning, you’ll end up with lots of Gaps in your knowledge. When that happens, you’ll get frustrated because each time you hear some Arabic, or Quran being recited, or even when you’re reading you’ll find you get stuck in translation.
By the time you figure out the meaning of a sentence, you’ve missed the next paragraph. It’s very frustrating and can be demotivating as well.
The solution is that you follow a structure that gives you what you need, when you need it insha’Allah. Once you have that, just follow the process.
I’ve had people tell me they were so frustrated because they’d attempted so many times and almost always it’s one of these reasons for why they didn’t succeed.
You’ll Need A Study System or Schedule
Having no study system / Schedule is definitely one of the biggest reasons why people struggle. Sometimes people will go to great lengths to explain why they just couldn’t learn Quranic Arabic. They might say it’s difficult, they’ve even put the effort in and still seen no results.
Well usually, you’ll find that they didn’t actually have a schedule for daily and weekly learning. Sounds too obvious. But if you really look into it, you’ll find this is so often the reason for the struggle.
The schedule you follow doesn’t have to mean you study 25 hours a week. It can be done in as little as 3 hours a week, but those three hours have to be scheduled and regular.
Students who don’t create or follow a schedule of study, all of a sudden find that weeks are flying by and they’re not seeing results. You will not see results unless you fix a schedule and actually follow it.
It can be as simple as one hour a day over multiple days. It’s only one hour you might be saying, it won’t be enough. But I’ll tell you that one hour a day is enough to give you amazing results. Just get started and follow a simple schedule.
The easy way to do this is to fix one hour a day with Salat Al-Fajr, the morning prayer or do it at the time that best suits you, but keep to it. As long as you follow your own schedule at least 80% of the time, you will succeed insha’Allah.
The truth is that there is no perfect time to study as it’s different for everyone. However, from experience, I can see that early Mornings is the best time for most people. Usually because you are most alert, fresh and ready to absorb the information. Best of all, everyone else is asleep so you can just study uninterrupted.
In the beginning, it takes a little time to get used to studying at that time, so you have to exert effort for a month or so until you get into the habit. At that point it will become easy insha’Allah.
Check out the article on how to Create Success with Habits
I have bad Memory? What can I do
Memory is not key, PRACTICE IS.
Ok, that’s a strange thing to say when writing about language learning. But what I mean is that people often complain that they have a weak memory and struggle to memorise. Most of the time, it might be perfectly true BUT what most people fail to realise is that your memory skill is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets OR the less you use it the weaker it gets.
So, in the beginning, I have found that some students have approached me about this issue and I advise them with the same advice I’m sharing here.
Start by following a system, keep to a schedule and do regular DAILY PRACTICE. If you can keep this up for a month or more, you’ll find that your memory skills have significantly improved.
To give you an example, I had a student in her 50’s who complained about weak memory. She had spent the past 30 years raising her children and completely out of education. When she began, it was really a mental block she suffered from. She was holding herself back by telling herself that she couldn’t memorise. It turned out that she memorised better than other students studying at the same time, even though they were younger, just out of University.
Because she followed the simple advice of daily practice, soon her memory became very sharp Alhamdulilah and she proved to herself that she could actually do it.
What do you think made the difference? She stopped believing that her memory skills were fixed and she began following the exercises I had set her and within a short time, she was ahead of other students Alhamdulilah.
Like I said memory is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it will get.
So let me tell you the secret to getting success…
Ask Allah to help you, ask daily and you cannot fail. That was key to my success and the success of every student of the Quran.
As Allah swt says:
“And if my servant asks about me, indeed I am near, I answer the Dua of the one who calls upon me.”
Surah Al Baqarah
Do that and you cannot fail insha’Allah.
May Allah swt give you the greatest success in connecting to His Quran.