Learn How to Speak Arabic Easily
Arabic is a beautiful language. It’s rhythm and melody and very unique. But, recreating these sounds can be daunting. So, how can you master the Arabic pronunciation? Luckily, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Follow these 8 tips to learn how to speak Arabic just like the locals.
Is Arabic Pronunciation Hard to Learn?
The short answer is no. You can easily learn the sounds of Arabic, and master Arabic pronunciation. While perfecting your accent takes time, it’s also not impossible. Given time, you will speak just like an Arabic local. And with these tricks, steps, advice, and hacks, learning Arabic pronunciation becomes even easier.
Since you already speak English, you have a good starting point. Most of the sounds in the Arabic language already exist in English. But, there are a few sounds that may be unfamiliar. Don’t worry, we will tackle them to get you to Arabic fluency faster.
Why Good Arabic Pronunciation is Important
Knowing how to speak the language is a basic concept for fluency. But, why is having a good Arabic pronunciation important? You need to know how to speak Arabic well to:
- Be Understood: Language is primarily a spoken form of communication. If your pronunciation is good, you can participate in a conversation in Arabic easily.
- Communicate well: As you grow your fluency, you can have more ambitious goals. Communicating is one step higher than making yourself understood. You’re expressing deeper thoughts and ideas, and you need better Arabic pronunciation for that.
- Make a good impression: If you can speak Arabic fluently, and your accent is good too, you’ll surely make a good impression. You’ll seem educated and intelligent. This is especially important if you’re learning Arabic to boost your career.
How to Perfect Your Arabic Pronunciation
1. Get Familiar with the Alphabet
The first step to speaking Arabic is reading it. Since Arabic has a different writing system than English, you need to get up close and personal with the Arabic alphabet. There are 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet.
Here’s a refresher of what Arabic letters look like, together with their pronunciation and equivalent English sounds:
2. Master the Sounds of Arabic
As an English speaker, the sounds of Arabic may look daunting. But, don’t worry. Once you know the alphabet, it becomes much easier. And there’s a way to make mastering the sounds of Arabic even easier: divide them into consonants and vowels. Learn one group first, and give yourself time to pronounce them well.
Arabic consonants are trickier. Since Arabic is an abjad (a writing system that has no vowels), there are quite a few of them. The Arabic consonants are: b, f, h, k, d, t, m, l, n, s, w, j, z, y, sh, th, dh, and ‘, the glottal stop.
The glottal stop is a strange one. It’s not so much as a letter in English, but you’ve definitely heard and used it before. It’s a little hitch in your voice when you say “uh-oh”. Yes, it’s a separate sound in Arabic.
While most consonants in Arabic are pretty much the same sound as in English, here are the variations of the few that are unique:
- L: the “l” sound in Arabic is very light, like “illegal”.
- J: the Arabic “j” is soft, like “fusion”
- R: rolled “r”, like in Spanish
- CH: a back of the throat “h”, like in German
- Empathetic consonants: these consonants are pronounced with a raised tongue, and you give a kick at the end too. They’re very similar to “d”, “t”, “th”, and “s”.
- Especially throaty sounds: “q”, “gh”, “7”, “3” (more on these numbers later)
Arabic vowels are much more easier to master. There are only three vowels in Modern Standard Arabic: “a”, “u”, and “i”. (a like in “father”, u like in “tune”, i (ee) like in “green”)
Listen to a Video
Use this video to listen to the before-mentioned sounds of Arabic. This video also shows you how to pronounce Arabic letters with your tongue and mouth.
3. Use Arabic Numbers
There are a few letters and sounds in the Arabic alphabet that don’t exist in English. To use Romanized Arabic to help you master that pronunciation, we use numbers. These numbers signal these unfamiliar sounds to native English speakers:
- 2 = hamza ء (original alif sound): the same sound that’s between the vowels in the name “Martin”.
- 3 = 3ain (ع): This is a very common and important sound in Arabic. It might sound silly, but the most effective way I have of teaching this sound is to think of Pee-Wee Herman. You know that deep, throaty giggle he makes, “Hi, I’m Pee-Wee Herman, huh huh!”. That sound he makes with his throaty giggle is pretty close to the letter ‘Ain.
- 6 = “empathetic” T: the same “th” sound you make when you say the word “them”.
- 7 = throaty h: the deep “h” sound you make from the back of your throat.
- 9 = “empathetic” S: this is not the same as a normal Arabic “s”, and it’s quite rare in everyday language. You make this sound by putting your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
- Bonus: You can use apostrophes in Romanized Arabic. If the apostrophe is after a consonant, it means there’s a slight variation to it. For example, “t’” is like the “th” in think. If the apostrophe is after a vowel, that means that the sound is longer.
4. Practice Your Arabic Pronunciation ASAP
Many language learners fear to speak their target language. It’s unnerving to try to speak a foreign language. Fearing embarrassment, these people delay their speaking practice. But, that’s a mistake. You should start speaking Arabic from the first lesson.
The sooner you start speaking, the faster you’ll reach fluency. What’s more, you’ll also get comfortable with the language. That’s why language learning apps that focus on typing the language fail. They don’t build your speaking skills. And the outcome is no fluency, and no guts to speak. If you want to do your Arabic pronunciation a favor, start practicing it a lot ASAP.
5. Disregard Arabic Dialects
Arabic is the official language of 25 countries. This means that there are 30 distinct Arabic dialects around the globe. So, as a language learner, which one should you learn? Which Arabic pronunciation should you focus on?
The best way to learn Arabic pronunciation is to go with Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). This universal dialect is easy to learn. And even though no Arabic local speaks with this accent, they all understand it. So, it’s great for communication.
6. Record Your Arabic Pronunciation
A great trick when you’re trying to perfect your Arabic pronunciation is to record yourself. If you hate listening to your own voice as much as I do, you may not want to do it. But, it’s very beneficial. You can hear the Arabic sounds you create and compare it to an Arabic local’s pronunciation.
If you know how to correct yourself, you’ll achieve the perfect Arabic pronunciation much faster. Don’t worry, you can quickly delete the audio file after learning from it. Develop your ear for Arabic and achieve fluency faster.
7. Don’t Worry About Your Accent
A lot of language learners get hung up with their accents. Fearing embarrassment, they don’t speak Arabic. But, every language learner has an accent. With more and more practice, your accent will slowly fade away. And if you use the right techniques, you can learn to have an authentic Arabic accent naturally.
So, don’t let language learning anxiety limit your progress. Just disregard your Arabic accent for now. Focus on speaking fluently first. Besides, once you’re talking to locals, you’ll learn their accents. Given the 30 Arabic dialects around the world, no native speaker will judge your accent.
8. Learn Arabic Vocabulary
The best way to master Arabic pronunciation is with real Arabic words. Using common phrases will not just get you a great accent. It also gets you closer to fluency faster.
80% of everyday speech comes from 20% of the vocabulary. It’s called the 80/20 rule. So, if you learn that 20%, you can easily join Arabic conversations. Learn Arabic pronunciation through using the most common words, and become fluent that much faster.
9. Listen to the Sounds of Arabic
One of the most important steps in your language learning journey is listening. Make sure you take your time familiarizing yourself with the sounds of Arabic. Listen to native Arabic speakers talk to get a better understanding of the rhythm and melody of the language. Some good listening exercises to improve your pronunciation are:
- Listen to an Arabic podcast: If you want an intensive listening exercise, tune in to an Arabic podcast. You can listen to authentic Arabic spoken.
- Watch Arabic TV: Egyptians love their TV. That’s why there are plenty of Egyptian TV shows, news broadcasts and entertainment available in Arabic. Listen to real Arabic natives, and improve your understanding of Arabic pronunciation.
- Sing Arabic Songs: music is a great language learning tool. You can get a great grasp of the rhythm and melody of the language. While pop stars aren’t a usual phenomenon in Arabic speaking countries usually, there are plenty of beautiful folk songs you can listen to and sing yourself.
10. Use the Best App to Perfect Your Arabic Pronunciation
If you want to learn Arabic pronunciation fast and effectively, you need an app that combines all these great steps. An app that enhances your listening skills, gives you useful vocabulary and has built-in pronunciation guides. And that’s exactly what OptiLingo offers.
OptiLingo can get you to Arabic fluency fast. You’ll get the most useful Arabic vocabulary, and you can listen to them as well. But, best of all, OptiLingo also makes you speak from the first lesson. This app builds your confidence and fluency from day 1. Achieve better results and perfect your Arabic pronunciation when you download OptiLingo today!