Expatriates who live in a foreign country realize the enormous benefits of being able to communicate in the local language. Being able to converse in the local language can open up doors to many new opportunities including forging business relationships, making new friends and being able to fully experience a new culture. This is especially true of the UAE, where the locals are heavily outnumbered by expatriates and make every effort to try and preserve their culture and way of life. UAE nationals are usually very supportive of expatriates who attempt to learn their language and appreciate the efforts of those who try to blend in. There are many different language learning courses that can help those interested in achieving fluency in the Arabic language to learn how to speak and understand the local language.
Without further ado, let us take a look at the three best Arabic language learning courses and why they can help you master the language.
1) Living Language Arabic: Platinum Edition
This course is based on the Living Language Method, which was developed in 1946 by the US State Department as an aid for US overseas diplomats. This is based on a four step method that uses linguistic science techniques to help learners express themselves confidently in a new language without having to mimic or memorize words. The Platinum edition comes stocked with a host of aids that will engage different senses to help maximum retention of new words and phrases. It includes:
- Forty-six lessons spread over four books with a complete guide to the Arabic script, review exercises and culture notes.
- 9 Audio CDs packed with dialogues, vocabulary and audio exercises that can be used in conjunction with the books.
- Online course, which allows you to learn on the go, on your laptop or at home.
- E-tutor, which gives you access to free tutoring sessions, online support and advice from language experts.
- An online support community where you can share your learning experience, ask for advice, practice your speech and vocabulary and receive feedback from experts, native speakers as well as others that are aiming to learn the language.
- iPhone and iPad compatible applications with interactive games, vocabulary flash cards and grammar notes at your fingertips.
Short of having a native speaker to practice with regularly, this course is the next best thing to learning the language proficiently. The course is well structured with three different levels: Essential, Intermediate and Advanced that help you decide how much time and effort you want to put into learning the language. The Essential level includes basic vocabulary and phrases that are most commonly used including grammar tips. Subsequent levels build on this vocabulary using tools such the speaking and listening comprehension with workbooks that include phonetic pronunciation of the various Arabic words. The online tools can be accessed via a code in the pack once you register as a platinum user, although the manufacturers have put a one year time limit on the use of the online materials from the time you register. The online access is one of the greatest advantages of this set as it allows the learner to schedule an e-tutoring session, typically 30 minutes long, with a native speaker and a maximum of three other students. Students, who are not visible to each other, can converse with the teacher, ask questions and practice the language.
The Script book focuses primarily on the Arabic script and learning how to read and write it. The iPhone and iPad apps have many fun online games designed to help you remember key words; users have the option of trying out these apps before investing in the complete package. With all the great tools and information packed into the Platinum Edition, the only thing stopping you from learning the language is your personal commitment.
2) Modern Standard Arabic Comprehensive: Pimsleur Learning Program
Devised by Dr. Paul Pimsleur, the Pimsleur Method of learning is based on two key principles: ‘Graduated Interval Recall’, a scientific technique of memory training designed to help retain words and phrases and the Principle of Anticipation. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), used in writing and formal speech, is the only form of literary Arabic taught universally in schools and is the focus of this comprehensive language training program. The MSA Comprehensive program comes with audiobooks and audio CDs that use thirty, thirty-minute sessions to provide fifteen hours of instruction on practicing the spoken language and one hour of reading instruction.
The first ten lessons teach the basics of the language using common situations such as greeting someone, asking for directions or scheduling a meeting. The instruction is precise and clear, making it easy to understand. It aims to make the learner proficient at basic Arabic including proper pronunciation skills.
The next ten sessions build on these basics and introduce new vocabulary to deal with more specific situations such as currency and money matters. It aims to get the learner more confident with speech.
The final ten lessons aim to increase the learner’s proficiency to intermediate level. More instruction is given in the Arabic language and lessons include talking about friends and family, making dinner plans for a restaurant or going shopping. Reading lessons are included at the end of Lesson 30 and introduce the Arabic alphabet with the correct accent and pronunciation.
The biggest caveat for the beginner who wishes to learn MSA is that the Pimsleur approach focuses primarily on the aural/oral approach to learning the language through the frequent repetition of high-frequency vocabulary. Consulting other visual resources is discouraged. This would make this resource less practical for those who are more adept at visual learning and retention. At the end of the thirty lessons, the learner will become very well versed in the use and pronunciation of a limited number of very high frequency words. The MSA Comprehensive program is best suited as a stepping stone for the preparation of further study in Arabic and helps the leaner develop a ‘ear’ for the language.
3) Modern Standard Arabic Conversational: Pimsleur Learning Program
The MSA conversational program comprises of the first sixteen units of the MSA Comprehensive program. The sixteen 30-minute sessions focus on essential grammar and vocabulary that aim to improve conversational proficiency in everyday situations such as ordering a meal at a restaurant or asking for or giving directions. The program is available in CD or mp3 format, allowing the user to listen and practice on the way to work or at home without being tied down to a computer. The program is effective in its pattern of repetition and useful breaking down of words that enables the user to acquire quick familiarity with the basic vocabulary, it’s appropriate use and the correct pronunciation. This product is perfect if you are looking to learn quick conversational Arabic for a vacation or trip to one of the Gulf countries.