A lot of us want to learn Arabic. If you’re like me, you actually have tried learning but never went really far. I intend to make a renewed effort to learn the language. Below are several resources I have used in the past and will use again.
Please note the courses require the user to have the ability to read Arabic i.e. recognise all 28 letters and each vowel sound. Contact your local Imam to cover the basics or use Islamic Online University’s free Arabic course (referenced below). All sources have been hyperlinked for easy access.
This Toronto-based institute has video lessons for the complete set of the famous “Madina books,” (the books used in the Islamic University of Madinah to teach Arabic as a foreign language) on its website. Because each lesson is two hours long, I’d suggest dividing a lesson into four and doing it over the course of a week. The link above directs you to the Institute’s official website where all the files are available for download (video, audio, and ebook.) However, I would advise using learnarabic.info to download the files. The lessons are ordered and labelled better and are available for individual download.
- Easy to follow
- Entire series is a whopping 192 hours. Equivalent to watching 128 football matches or two World Cups. Extreme diligence is required.
- Video sizes are large. All 96 lessons in standard video quality will take up 52GB of your hard-drive space or 11 DVD discs. A fast (and unlimited) internet connection is needed to download the videos.*
*If you are in Nairobi and want the dvds free of charge, let me know in the comments section.
This course is specifically designed to make you understand the words in the Qur’an and in Salah. The course works by teaching you the root words behind the words in the Qur’an. In Arabic, every word has a root form (typically three letters) that it is derived from. For example: al-salam, Islam, Saleem, Muslim, Salma, and Saalim are all derived from “sa-la-ma.” The course teaches you the root words and how to recognise them in their derivative forms.It also teaches basic grammar.
There a several courses available on the site that promise to teach you varying amounts of the Qur’an, (Understand 50%, Understand 70%, Understand 100%) but only the 50% course is still free. The lessons are engaging and taught with a revolutionary system that uses your hand movements and fingers you hold up as an integral part of the learning process.
- Entire 50% course is only 9 hours. This makes completion and repetition easy.
- Provides a good platform for learning Arabic further.
- Only the 50% version is free*
- The course focuses on understanding Arabic when listened to and when read. Speaking and writing Arabic is not practiced.
*Update: at the time this article was conceptualised, the 50% version was free. It appears that there is no free course offered anymore. A YouTube playlist of the 50% course is still online, so have a go at it before it's removed too.
As the most comprehensive course on this entry, the IOU's "Arabic Reading and Writing Made Easy" course is “designed to teach Arabic to non-Arabs of varying backgrounds without any intermediary language.” By the end of the course, expect to be able to understand written and spoken Arabic. The course also uses the “Madinah Books”. A certificate is offered upon completion. Complete a further 23 courses (all free) and you will receive an internationally recognised Diploma in Islamic Studies.
- Offers Arabic at an entry level
- Course is part of a globally recognised Diploma
- Flexible in its study hours
4. A 24-hour teacher
If I lost a kilogram for every time I was told, usually by older married men with smirks on their faces, that the best way to learn a language is to get a “24-hour teacher” I’d be as light as a feather. Yes: the last resource on this list is to marry someone who only speaks Arabic. I don’t know whether it actually works or should even be considered “free”, and I have not tried it (and probably never will) but I felt it deserved a mention because, well, older married men with smirks on their faces are known for their wisdom.
- You get married.
- You get married.