Learning a foreign language is one of the most challenging yet rewarding learning experiences a person can undertake. New words open new worlds, richly immersing a speaker in another culture. However, the idea of tackling a new language like Arabic can also be intimidating.
Fortunately, there are many resources available today for the person wanting to learn a new language – many of which are free. Yet before you even open an Arabic textbook or begin reading flashcards, there are strategies you should employ to mentally prepare yourself for learning spoken Arabic quickly.
First, sit down and make an honest assessment of your commitment to learning a new language. Many websites and language learning systems promise overnight results and that you will be speaking like a local in no time. While this may be the case for a select few, most new language speakers will need to make a significant time commitment.
This may seem counterintuitive for learning spoken Arabic rapidly, but by understanding the effort required ahead of time, it will be easier to maintain your decision to learn a new language.
Next, be patient with yourself. People get easily frustrated because they forget words, or cannot understand words even if they have listened to the same content repeatedly. You must learn to be patient with yourself when you find it difficult to express what you wish to say. This is perfectly natural.
Now that you have made a solid decision to learn a new language and have expanded your reserve of patience, here are some practical ways to improve your learning speed.
- Study for at least an hour a day. You can do this because you have already made a firm commitment to learning spoken Arabic. If possible, set a specific time every day for study. As you repeat your daily study habit, it will become easier to maintain your consistency. Consistency leads to fluency and the achievement of your language goals.
- Focus on vocabulary words over grammar. Although grammar is important, learning and retaining as many vocabulary words as possible will speed you on your way to speaking and understanding spoken Arabic. Memorising vocabulary is a simple yet effective strategy to learning your new language that can be done anywhere. One way of learning vocabulary is by labelling your furniture and other possessions in Arabic. By repeatedly exposing yourself to these words, they eventually become engrained in your memory.
- Immerse yourself in the language. As your vocabulary expands, begin listening to large amounts of Arabic. Play games, watch Arabic television and movies and do activities where you are forced to think in Arabic. Soon you will begin learning common phrases, short sentences and conversational dialogue. A travel phrasebook is also a great tool for learning things like ordering food or asking for directions without the burden of learning grammar rules and sentence structure. Phrases can be memorised and used immediately.
- Get personal. Make friends with Arabic language speakers. Ask them to spend one hour a week talking with you. Remember to make lots of mistakes when you practice. Generally, locals love it when foreigners make the effort to communicate in their own language. If you cannot find someone to practice with, find videos of Arabic speakers on YouTube.
- Get the right tools. A smart phone, MP3 player, tablet or computer are powerful aids for learning language. Not only do they make memorizing vocabulary easier, they can access online dictionaries and other resources.
Remember, frustration and overly ambitious expectations lead to negative thoughts and thinking. This is actually counterproductive to learning a new language or any new skill. Eventually you will achieve fluency – not perfection. Expecting perfection while learning spoken Arabic is self-defeating and unrealistic. You must be willing to make mistakes and lots of them to progress with your language learning. These strategies can help get you started.
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