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27 June 2018

Why Do Students Drop studying Arabic after a short time?

By: Prof. Dr. Halloun, Head of the Arabic School

Don’t believe anyone who tries to convince you to study to speak Arabic using the Arabic alphabet!

Don’t think that studying media Arabic will allow you to speak Arabic!

Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you will speak Arabic through mixing MSA with the spoken dialect!

Doing so, you lose your time and energy and you drop at the end.

This paper directed to students who are sincere to learn Arabic as living language, and also for those who do not ask questions and go to learn with asking the relevant questions:

1-What is the best method to control Arabic?

2- Why many foreign students start to learn Arabic and many of them drop?

3- Which language I have to start with; spoken language or the literary one?

4- Can I speak Arabic if I start with Media Arabic?

5- Can I speak Arabic if I study MSA?

6- Is it possible to mix between spoken Arabic a Literary Arabic?

7- Why after some hundreds of hours I can not express myself in a proper way?

8- There are hundreds of books and centers all over the world, why then only a few succeed to speak?

Preliminary facts:

Foreign Students Learning Arabic- Many students start to learn Arabic without the basic knowledge that there are two languages in Arabic: spoken language and written language.

- If you want to study Arabic in order to make research in Arabic or Semitic language only, you start with the Arabic alphabet, and  in three or four years you can arrive at such a level which allow you to read texts in Arabic with a help of a dictionary, but you will not be able to speak. Your knowledge will be passive, just like learning Latin. Why? because you don’t have the verb system in spoken Arabic, you don’t have the right coherences and the vocabulary is different in many aspects!

- If you want to learn to read Arabic newspapers you start with the alphabet and after few years you can read the Arabic newspaper with a dictionary, but don’t expect that you will be able to speak. Your knowledge will be passive if you don’t drop in few months. Why? because the verb system of the spoken language is missing, the coherence is missing and the vocabulary is dealing mainly in politics!

- If you study spoken Arabic through the Arabic Alphabet you will drop before you can say any complete sentence, because you use an alphabet that cannot express the spoken dialect in a proper way. The Arabic script is built for literary Arabic and not for the spoken language. You don’t find the way to express ē or ō. You don’t have among the list given by your teachers the letters v, g, p. and what if the dialect you learn do not use q but ʾ? How you will write it in the Arabic alphabet?. Then the teacher will make from the lesson a class for the grammar of the dialect in comparison with the fusha that you don’t have yet!

- The ‘fantasy’ in learning the alphabet:

Many students have a fantasy to learn the Arabic alphabet. ‘I love the Arabic calligraphy’, ‘it is charming’ ‘it is so beautiful’ … they say and insist to learn the spoken with the Arabic alphabet, only when they stop after a short time, they know that they made a mistake.

- The most ‘famous’ Al-Kitāb for teaching MSA is the main obstacle to speak Arabic. This book is not build to direct students to speak the language. Only very few motivated students succeeded to express themselves in Arabic by using this book. I know many students who finished the book, made the exam, got a nice salary from their work but they cannot express themselves. Thousands of students are dropping the language. This is really sad and prevents from spreading Arabic.  Usually, students who drop will never come back and it is sad.

The best way to study Arabic is to learn to speak first, like babies through transliteration system. This will save a lot of time. After three level of about 100 hours, you should start to express yourself. Only after that, you move to study Media Arabic or Modern Standard Arabic!. If you cannot resist your fantasy to learn the Arabic script you can learn it while you studying with the transliteration system. Our methodology includes all the spoken texts in the Arabic alphabet. It is easy to learn the alphabet after learning the content.

When you are in Arab country for work, why you need to learn Media Arabic or MSA first? There are many places in your country where you can do that. You better exploit the time in spoken because you will have people you can communicate with them. Moreover, hearing the language is very important part of the process of learning.

I am sorry to say that I don’t know anyone who can speak the language in a proper way by mixing between the Arabic alphabet, spoken He probably can do that in 10 years! if he doesn't drop before.

Bethlehem University Foundation
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Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
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