So you've recently decided to learn Arabic as a foreign language. You're chopping at the bit to start learning , but you are a little uncertain where to start.
One way or another you heard about Babbel, and the one million people or so who use the app to learn foreign languages. You hear about the course's reputation for teaching relevant core vocabulary and grammar, and you're excited to give it a try.
But there's only one problem....
Babbel doesn't offer an Arabic course
Why doesn't Babbel offer a course for Arabic?
Arabic is a hard language to teach (to native English speakers)
Arabic grammar, writing, and pronunciation is all drastically different from the English language. This is why the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) rates it as one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to learn.
To make matters worse the language has several dialects which aren't always mutually intelligible. This makes it hard for companies to market Arabic courses, as one student who is learning Egyptian Arabic won't necessarily be interested in a course that covers Moroccan Arabic.
Many Arabic courses leave much to be desired
Because of the many linguistic differences between the two languages it takes a lot of love and care to craft an effective Arabic learning course. Unfortunately though, a lot of language companies put little effort into the task.
Some Arabic courses are simply glorified Spanish courses. It's assumed that if a particular method is effective for learning one foreign language, it will also be effective in learning another.
However that's simply not the case. Spanish, French, Italian, and even German are all much more closely related to the English language than Arabic is. Thus what works for one foreign language doesn't necessarily work for another.
3 Alternatives to Babbel Arabic
Hopefully the day will come when the folks at Babbel will produce an effective and fun course for learning the Arabic language, but until then here are a few alternatives.
Rocket Arabic is built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational Arabic).
Overall Rocket Arabic is a comprehensive course that does a good job of incorporating speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing.
Note: Rocket Arabic teaches the Egyptian dialect of Arabic
Arabicpod101 is one of the most popular Arabic podcast courses on the web. It's lessons are audio based and come in the form of podcasts. While not quite as structured as other courses lessons are effective and engaging. It's also fairly cheap with a basic monthly subscription for $8.
Note: Arabicpod101 offers lessons for Egyptian, Moroccan, and the Modern Standard dialects of Arabic
Italki is an online market place that connects language learners and language teachers. The site allows you to book individual language lessons with a teacher over Skype.
There are over 100 professional teachers and informal tutors for Arabic on Italki spread across five different dialects.
*Use this link to purchase a minimum of $20 (US) of Italki credits and receive an extra $10 free! (Bonus added after completion of 1st lesson)