The Mezzofanti Guild Language Learning Made Simple

Learning Arabic? Here Are 5 Books That I Highly Recommend You Own

Egyptian Arabic Books

Note: We’ve put together a new resource for learning Arabic which you might find useful. Click here.

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You’ll hear me talk about the Arabic language a lot on this site.

Although I regard myself as a veteran language learner of many languages and a polyglot, I can say with the utmost confidence and pride that Arabic is something I’m an expert in with over a decade of experience, both linguistic and cultural.

I’m referring to the Egyptian dialect and Modern Standard specifically (in some ways they can be regarded as two separate languages given their differences).

I don’t know if it’s because I started learning it as a teenager or just because of the length of time I’ve spent on it but Arabic is the only language I don’t have to spend time activating if I don’t use it for a long period of time.

If I was going to spend time in France for example, I’d probably need to spend a short period of time turning French on by going over material and so on because it tends to go into hibernation if I don’t use it.

With Arabic it’s not the case.

I can go long periods of time without talking to anybody or hearing it and it’s just always there for instant retrieval as soon as I need it.

This is not to say that I’m perfect at the language by any means – I make mistakes all the time which I’m happy to admit – but this language has become so part of me now that it’s core to my identity as a person.

I like to think of myself as a bilingual kid who started late.

Anyway I’ll share my story of how and why I came to learn Arabic in the near future but for now I wanted to recommend a few excellent books to people who are wanting to learn Arabic.

If you’re trying to decide on another language but haven’t made up your mind as to which one then consider Arabic! It’ll be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make.

 

Arabic Language Books That You Should Own

Note FYI: The links here are affiliate links which means that a tiny fraction of any purchase will help keep this site up and running.

Another note: I haven’t mentioned any books here to do with learning the Arabic alphabet. Frankly I don’t recommend you spend money on alphabet books because a simple Google search will give you what you need for this.

I’ve had arguments in language learning forums with people adamant that they need to spend money on alphabet books like Alif Baa’.

Please take it from a guy who learned how to read Arabic in 1 day using free internet sites – you don’t need to waste your money on alphabet books. Arabic is not as hard to read as it looks!

If music’s your thing, there’s a downloadable listening program that I often recommend to people called Rapid Arabic (for Modern Standard Arabic).

It’s a unique (research-based) concept that teaches the language over a music backing track with carefully placed repetition and it’s only a few dollars. The first volume is really easy and suited for absolute beginners and the second volume gets into the meatier, higher level content.

You can listen to a sample of it here.

Also if you’d like a recommendation for an online program to learn Arabic rather than just books, I recommend these three:

Rocket Arabic for Egyptian (very comprehensive resource but audio only). I reviewed its content here.

ArabicPod101 for Moroccan, Egyptian and Modern Standard Arabic. I reviewed it here.

For video and audio content – TalkInArabic.com which covers 8 spoken dialects of Arabic (including our Essential Arabic Verb Packs).

 

1. The Kalimni ‘Arabi Series

These are, in my opinion, the best books for learning Arabic in existence.

I bought the higher advanced Kalimni ‘Arabi Fi Kull Haaga (Speak Arabic To Me In Everything) book last year and I swear to God (wallahi), this is the most outstanding and useful book that I’ve ever owned (I have two big bookcases full of hundreds of books and dozens on Arabic and this is my favourite).

I can not stress to you enough how good this series is.

They come with CD’s and DVD’s full of interesting interviews and high quality audio in real colloquial speech.

You’ll get plenty of reading practice too because thankfully there is no transliteration of the text. Even in the beginner book, it’ll get you reading straight away.

There are books available for pretty much every level:

Beginner: Kalimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh (Speak Arabic To Me Slowly)

Intermediate: Kalimni ‘Arabi (Speak Arabic To Me)

Upper Intermediate: Kalimni ‘Arabi Aktar (Speak More Arabic To Me)

Early Advanced: Kalimni ‘Arabi Mazboot (Speak Arabic To Me Properly)

Higher Advanced: Kalimni ‘Arabi Fi Kull Haaga (Speak Arabic To Me In Everything)

If there’s one investment you make on your Arabic study let it be this series.

UPDATE: Since writing this review, two more books have been released for Egyptian that are absolutely outstanding and worthy of mention (particularly for not-so-beginner learners): 

Umm al-Dunya: Advanced Egyptian Colloquial Arabic and Kalaam Gamiil (Vol 1 and Vol 2).

 

2. ‘Arabi Liblib

I went into a bit of detail about this book in this post so I won’t go over it again.

It’s a three part series and the books are glossaries of terms and expressions you’ll find in colloquial Egyptian Arabic (relevant to other dialects as well) aimed at advanced learners who want to do the final tweaking on all the small details.

If you plan to master colloquial Arabic or really understand slang in the Middle East, you should get this series.

 

3. A New Arabic Grammar Of The Written Language – Haywood | Nahmad

I’ve used a lot of Arabic grammar books for Modern Standard and Classical Arabic over the years.

This one is by far the best one I’ve ever used. Even though the print makes it look like it’s a little outdated, it’s actually a very clear, well structured and easy grammar to follow with lots of example passages to work with from newspapers, the Quran and novels.

When I started studying MSA years ago, I sat down and worked through this book on my own from start to finish and it had a huge impact on my learning success.

If you’re planning to learn how to read the news or classical literature you should have a copy of this on your desk.

 

4. Al Mawrid Arabic-English English-Arabic Dictionary – Baalbaki

This is the mother of all Arabic dictionaries.

It might seem like a slightly over-priced dictionary but believe me I’d be absolutely f****d without this thing.

Whether you’re working as a translator or just want an excellent dictionary to work with, this book is worth its weight in gold (and it is damn heavy!).

The reason why this dictionary beats the shit out of any other Arabic dictionary on the market is that it doesn’t just list single meanings beside word stems. It’ll give you a word stem, then it’ll give you some commonly derived forms and word pairings as you’d find them in newspapers and so on, with some examples.

For this reason, it serves as a dictionary and a glossary of terms.

The only drawback is the size and weight of this book. If you want to travel with it, it’s like carrying a brick in your luggage! (still definitely worth it though :))

 

5. Media Arabic – A Coursebook For Reading Arabic News

Last recommendation for today.

This is for people wanting to learn how to read newspapers specifically and it is slightly advanced.

Media Arabic helps you learn and apply critical reading skills to Arabic news articles. It’s broken up into sections on politics, economics, technology, terrorism and so on, and each section commences by offering core vocabulary found in the articles.

It teaches you how to skim for main ideas, connectors and words that indicate the who, what, why and how of the article. This book shows you how to make sense of a newspaper even if you don’t know every word.

What I really like about this book is the way it teaches how to pay attention to author bias and opinion by the article’s use of certain words.

If you have an interest in journalism, politics or propaganda in Middle Eastern media this book is an absolute treasure!

 

Those are my 5 recommendations today for Arabic learners. If you found this helpful please share it on Facebook or Twitter.

For those of you looking for a quality online audio resource for spoken Arabic, I personally recommend the Rocket Arabic series which I recently sampled and found very useful and comprehensive. For a resource that covers more dialects and includes video content, use TalkInArabic.com. Also be sure to check out my more recent post on Levantine and Iraqi Arabic resources if you’re learning those dialects.

If you want some recommendations on listening resources for learning Arabic, I shared some great ones here.

If you’ve got another book that you want to recommend here or you want to ask me about any other books or products on Arabic you can do it in the comments section below.

 

This was written by .

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  1. Thanks a lot, I'm just starting Arabic, will definitely check these out! 🙂 Also, do you happen to have any recommendations for good sources of audio with transcripts? I've found some for the news (i.e. the text of the story being read aloud), but can't find anything more day-to-day. For learning Chinese I used Chinesepod, which gives you a dialogue/conversation, and the matching text. If you know of something similar for Arabic I would be extremely grateful!!!

    Reply
    1. Hey Rowan.

      The first book that I listed here – Kalimni 'Arabi – actually has all the transcripts for its CD dialogues and all of it is 'day to day' conversation.

      What dialect are you learning?

      Reply
      1. Hi, thanks, i'm actually in china at the moment, so will have to wait until I get back home before I can buy the books! I was just looking for some online audio&transcripts in the meantime

        I'm planning to do MSA first, then choose a dialect later. Do you think that's the best idea? Or would you recommend starting them both at the same time?

        Reply
        1. It really depends on your goals, Rowan.

          Are you learning so that you can travel to the Middle East? If so, I'd put MSA on hold and jump straight into a dialect (that's what I did). If you walk around speaking MSA, people will understand you but you'll sound funny and you won't understand them at all when they speak back at you.

          If you're learning just out of interest at home, to read Arabic sites or for work, then stick with MSA.

          Reply
          1. Hi….I suggest a new and unique collection of textbooks and resources to learn Tunisian Arabic, the colloquial variety spoken in Tunisia, and explore Tunisian culture.

            Readers are Arabic language students, linguists, students and researchers in comparative grammar, travelers to Tunisia & the Arab world, expats and foreign language lovers worldwide.

            Tunisian Arabic in 24 Lessons
            ISBN-13 9781494370534

            Tunisian Arabic in 30 Lessons
            ISBN-13 9781494706982

            DECODING TUNISIAN ARABIC
            ISBN-13 9781494933579

            Survival Tunisian Arabic
            ISBN-13 9781519727213

            Tunisian Arabic – English dictionary

      2. I want to learn Arabic language

        Reply
  2. Hey, very good article. I have been learning Arabic for a year. @Rowan, there is indeed a chinesepod equivalent for Arabic and it's ArabicPod.net. My favourite website actually.

    Reply
    1. Hey, yeah I had a look, but unfortunately for most of the lessons they don't have the dialogue as a separate audio file 🙁 you can only download the 10-15 minute lessons, which doesn't make it very easy to review (plus most of it is in english at the beginner stages)

      Reply
      1. Hi , I’m Arabic language teacher, I teach non-speakers, but till now all my students want to learn old arabic.

        I’d like to know which books or texts you need to listen to, I want to read it for you and anyone, i’ll upload it in youtupe. just tell me which books.

        Reply
  3. Thanks for that! Very useful article for learning Arabic 🙂 Rowan, there are some transcripts here http://www.arabiconline.eu. Just have to enter the course. It is free and also has voice recording system so you can practice your pronounciation.

    Reply
  4. G'day Chris.

    I like the idea of your website and method. There is a shortage of dialect-specific courses online so it's good to see. It's also great that you've got some native speakers helping you with the project.

    I'd be happy to collaborate with you more in future if you're up for it.

    Reply
    1. Have you anything in mind? (also, love the Egyptian Arabic vid about بيت احلامك!)

      Reply
  5. I’ve been studying arabic language intensively for years now and I just stumbled upon your web site ( through the The Arabic Student blog ) and I’m happy to see another language website with an interest in this language …

    For french people, or anyone who knows french, I’d recommend begining with “Méthode Assimil, l’arabe sans peine”, it’s only on MSA, but it helped me a lot as a beginner ( and I’m totally for learning MSA even if you’re only interested in a dialect, it make learning dialects much easier afterwards … At least that’s how it worked for me ). And it’s one of the cheapest methods I found ( you don’t have to buy the CDs with it, you can find them easily on internet ).

    Reply
    1. Thanks Louisa.

      I'm glad you found my blog! I hope you stick around as you'd have a lot of great insight to offer people I'm sure.

      I haven't experimented with non-English Arabic resources yet but I think I will soon. I'll make sure to check out Méthode Assimil first 🙂

      alf shukr!

      Reply
  6. I'm a non-Arab Muslim trying to understand the Qur'an better when it's being recited at a normal pace. Will the books you recommended help me learn Classical Arabic pretty well? I'm hoping I can be decently fluent in the language of the Qur'an specifically.

    Reply
    1. Hi Saad,

      The third book (Haywood – New Arabic Grammar Of The Written Language) will definitely help you with the Quran as a lot of the exercises and samples are from the Quran, Hadith and other Islamic texts.

      I highly recommend it.

      Good luck! 🙂

      Reply
  7. The Kalimni ‘Arabi Series seems to be for Egyptian Arabic. Is it also suitable for MSA or are there better alternatives?

    Reply
    1. If you only want to learn MSA then I'd recommend the other book I've mentioned here – Haywood's New Arabic Grammar Of The Written Language. It's a brilliant book for MSA learners.

      If you eventually want to be able to communicate in spoken Arabic then definitely get Kalimni 'Arabi.

      Reply
    2. I'm Faculty of Arabic and I always used the Kallimni Arabi series in my Arabic classes in Dubai, it's really fun valuable and the simple way she has used to help non native speakers to learn the Arabic is awesome , but if you want to go for Academic Arabic for Islamic studies as an example or for reporting so in this case you can go for standard Arabic curriculum same as Living language 1/2 or Intermediate Arabic for Dummies or even in the US you will find many universities they have their own curriculum for the standard Arabic and mostly it's prepared by experts who has minimum a master degree in Arabic or PHD

      Reply
      1. asalaamu a’laykum Kareem, you mention that you are from the faculty of arabic in dubai. could you kindly send me details of your college/uny and the types of courses your faculty is offering.

        many thanks,
        shakislton

        Reply
  8. I am going to visit Saudi Arabia and i am interested in learning arabic. Can you please recommend me a dialect for Saudia since i don't know which dialect they speak there.
    I am interested in both spoken arabic and the Quranic arabic but i would like to start learning with spoken arabic. Is that a good idea?
    And finally please also advise on resource to use for the purpose.
    Your sites is a gold mine for language learners and i absolutely love it. Thanks for all your hard work.

    Reply
    1. Thanks very much!

      For Saudi specifically there's not a lot. The only one I've tried is Colloquial Arabic Of The Gulf. There's also a popular book by FSI.

      Reply
  9. i want kuwait arabi.do u have that book

    Reply
    1. No unfortunately. Wish I did!

      Reply
  10. A book that I might recommend for learning any language is the Bible. It gets translated in all the major languages, with multiple translations in some language, and you can open it up in both languages and read it in each and compare.

    Reply
    1. An Arabic Bible was one of the first books I used actually.

      The only problem is the language is very archaic (classical). Good for reading but won't help your speaking much.

      Reply
  11. the first one that you mentioned, I noticed it is for egyptian arabic. Do they make standard arabic(like saudi arabian) lessons?

    Reply
    1. No they don't unfortunately.

      I wish they did.

      Reply
  12. Hello. I'm a newbie here and beginning Arabic. I stumbled across this site when I was looking for a better book for self-study. I started learning the alphabet with 'The Arabic Alphabet' by Nicholas Awde & Putros Samano, which I think is good. I am now working through 'Read and Write Arabic Script' by Mourad Diouri. I am having great difficulty reading some of the script which is so small that I have to use a magnifying glass to see all the detail. You recommend the Kallimni series, but when I read the reviews on Amazon I was disappointed to find these books are intended for teachers of Arabic teaching students. Could you please recommend a beginner's book for self-study, with script that is as large and clear enough as Awde & Samano's book? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Most textbooks are designed to be used in a classroom setting but honestly, it all comes down to how you use them.

      There are a few exercises in the Kalimni 'Arabi books that are meant to be done with classmates but you can work through those on your own – just practice them, rewrite them and most importantly, jump on Skype and practice them if you can.

      Even for a self-learner, Kalimni 'Arabi is superior in my opinion.

      Reply
      1. Thanks for your response. I grew impatient waiting for reply, so decided to give Mastering Arabic (Jane Wightwick & Mahmoud Gaafar) a try. Have also bought the Arabic bilingual dictionary by N Aude & K Smith, which I find helpful. Will maybe look at the Kalimni books later.

        Reply
  13. Hi Donovan,
    Liked the write up and reviews! Now could you please enlighten me as to how to get hold of these books.
    Thanks, in anticipation,
    Vikram.

    Reply
  14. Just click on the links above and it'll take you to the sales page. There are several sites that stock these books but I find Amazon to be the most convenient.

    Reply
  15. I would suggest Pimsleur's Language programs. The best.

    Reply
  16. Hello every one ,I am MOEMEN from Egypt I am naitve Arabic speaking Person I don’t mind to help anyone wanted to learn Arabic and I will need your help in English so if anyone is interested Pleas let me know by adding me on the skype My ID is diver_imca1 there we can exchange the language English with Arabic, looking forward to hear from you guys .

    Reply
  17. I have no idea from where you get this idea of Arabic being the easiest language to learn? Learning Arabic is challenging as it is difficult lingo, second to Chinese language in terms of it grammar , syntax, sentence structured and language rules. Arabic is mother tongue, so I know what I am talking about. Najwan El-Magboul

    Reply
    1. yur absolutley correct its not easy at all especially MSA and all its rules ive been trying msa for 4 years i still can not get a grip on this arabic

      Reply
      1. He makes that very point about Modern Standard Arabic. And it’s harder because outside of rather stilted sessions with a teacher, there’s no real context in which to practice it, because nobody actually speaks it as their first language. Everyone has a different learning style but I know for me, the most effective thing is to get a basic handle on grammar and structure (maybe very basic) and some vocabulary and throw myself into the pool, put myself into situations where I have to use what I know and build on that. If you learn in the context of real life, events and situations, you have a much richer web of associations around new words and grammatical points, and are much more likely to assimilate them, than if you are trying to just learn vocabulary from a list or memorize grammar rules.

        Think about how you learned your own language: You first learned to speak, to hear the language. You never studied grammar, you just assimilated it. Later you went to school and learned the written form of your language, which is always different from spoken. So even if your goal is to learn MSA, you’ll have a much easier time if you already have a dialect “installed”.

        Reply
  18. Why do you think it’s good that there’s no transliteration? Isn’t it hard to learn arabic words as a beginner when short vowels are omitted in writing?

    Reply
    1. Chris, I'm also one of those who are against trasliteration, I leanrt it because of my experience. Transliteration at the beginning looks simple and really helpfull, but it can have a really negative effect.. Normally when we use translitetarion (specially in languagues with a different writing system than latin). when people see transliteration, most of the people's used to focus on the equivalent sound in their mother tongue.. transliteration most of the times makes people pronounce like if it were their same language. . as result you are talking whatever but not the language you are learning. I was lucky that all my teachers prohibited us to write pronounciation, it help us to get the real pronounciation of words and be focused in the pronounciation of each word since the beginning. _For example, In chinese transliteration uses letters than j/q/z/c etc… and for real… it has nothing similar with the real sound.. as a result.. nobody understand it. Talking about arabic, transliteration was prohibided. why? because there many sounds that for our languages is the same thing.. but in arabic there's diferences between those letters and you have to master that differences.. so you must pay attention o each special sound.. about vowels, all texts for beginners use short vowels.. what we did in class, after of each lesson we should be able to recognise and read all the words without vowels. then it depends on you to find a method to remember all words and to know which vowels are into the word and where's the accent.

      Reply
      1. Such a good point. Even reading a letter like “t”, which is pretty much “the same” across languages can be misleading, because it distracts us from the reality that often it isn’t as similar as we think. Where is it articulated? On the teeth? On the palate? If we learn by listening and associate that sound afterwards with an Arabic letter, it’s much more natural.

        Reply
    2. Apologies for the very late reply.

      It is difficult in the beginning when there are no vowel diacritics but after a while you get used to what sounds right and what doesn't so it's not a problem.

      I hate transliterations because they're frankly lazy and usually cause people to pronounce things incorrectly.

      Reply
  19. As a trainer for Arabic Language as a second language I recommend to the learners" Kalimni Arabic series", one of the best colloquial courses in Arabic for non native speakers, Samia Louis focused on how to help the learners to build their language infrastructure through a systematic easy grammar, till the moment no other Arabic course material as AFL can compete only if it is in Classical Arabic. Samia Louis have post the best reliable course for Arabic according to her experience as a teacher, she knows how to deal with subject matter

    Reply
  20. I need your advice of how to learn arabic language.

    Reply
  21. Do you "must" have a teacher for those Kallimni books or can you have them for self study ?

    Reply
  22. What is your opinion on the Madinah Arabic books?

    Reply
    1. Very good if you're learning classical/Quranic Arabic.

      Not at all for conversational dialects.

      Reply
  23. Hi, thanks for the tips.

    I taught myself to read Cyrillic as easy and quick as you taught yourself to read Arabic. Also using resources from the internet. BUT I’m not having the same luck with Arabic.

    Could you please recommend some online resources which could help me?

    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  24. Hi! In what way/s can the Arabic script be learned?

    Thanks,
    David

    Reply
  25. Do you have anything for Levantine/Jordanian Arabic? Most of my friends are Palestinian, Syrian or Jordanian and I have no desire to learn MSA because I just want to talk and learn how to ask for things, where the bathroom is, etc. I do best with the English phonetically translated (NOT the Arabic script). Am finding nothing.

    Reply
    1. Hi Leanne.

      It depends what you're looking for. Are you just after books for Levantine Arabic?

      If all you're after is conversational Levantine Arabic, then the best advice I can give you is to use a tool like italki – https://www.mezzoguild.com/italki – and connect with a native speaker.

      There are a few Arabic teachers on the site from Jordan, Syria and Palestine for around $6 an hour – compare that to what you'd pay for an expensive book or a course and it's insanely good value. You'll learn more from a one hour session with one of those guys then you will from any textbook.

      If you still want advice on which books to use I'm happy to help. Best of luck! 🙂

      Reply
  26. I just ordered the kallimni arabi bishwees and the grammar , but I am a bit lost.Can you please tell me how did you learn?I mean the methods and which lessons you did.

    Reply
  27. I took a look at the first series that you recommended and noticed they were Egyptian Arabic. Are there any books that you could recommend that is classic standard Arabic? Thanks….

    Reply
  28. hello every one ,
    i hale from india & willing to learn Arabic can any body suggest the english books for international standard Arabic learning with isbn nos ?

    Reply
  29. Thank you! I'm very interested in these books you recommended. I must try to find them. Where can I buy them if I live in Tunisia or Sweden?

    Reply
  30. Hello Donovan,

    Have you used the first/beginners Kallimni Arabi book? Would you say it is navigable with zero previous instruction, external resources or assistance? I am concerned because of the negative reviews.

    Reply
  31. Hello! I have looked through your recommended books, but I was wondering if you had any recommendations for Levantine Arabic?

    Reply
  32. Samia Louis really has done a good work for the Modern Spoken Arabic curriculum .

    Reply
    1. Hello Mr Kareem, I am very interested in learning from the kallimni Arabi series and would like to know if you offer home tuitions? If yes then please contact me at my email [email protected].

      Reply
  33. I need to learn more and become Arabic teacher in all field

    Reply
  34. Hey Donovan, I was wondering if you know any source where I can get a PowerPoint presentations explaining special situations of the daily life like taking a taxi or renting an apartment and videos too. I'd be appreciated if you can help me with that. Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  35. I just want to share with you the course I did for learning Arabic. The best book that I bought was a book called Master Quranic Arabic in 24 hours. It was easy, beginner – intermediate level. It comes with cd and it was good value for money. You also get access to the course materials. Available on Amazon website.

    Reply
  36. Who stay in Rehab or Madinaty city and want to learn arabic am ready to start it with him or her for free XD

    Reply
  37. Do you have anything for someone who can fluently speak Egyptian Arabic but cannot read or write in the language? I also wish to learn MSA, as I would like to be able to watch media and have a better understanding of the dialogue.

    Reply
  38. Hi Donovan,
    Thank you for this useful post. I am an upper-intermediate learner of Arabic and am looking to continue my studies without a teacher. I'm looking for a good textbook that focuses on grammar in a well-structured way at upper intermediate level. Do you have any ideas? The one you mentioned seems to be more for beginners, is that the case?
    Your help is very much appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Which dialect? The series I've mentioned above is for all levels (in fact the intermediate – advanced books are the best).

      Reply
  39. Thanks for all your tips. I'm taking Arabic 2 now. This is my teacher's first year teaching, so she started us in Arabic 1 and now 2 with no book at all. She just gives us handouts, but I would really like a book to reference and study on my own as well. Our focus is MSA.

    Our teacher has recently discovered a book called, " Arabic for Life: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic" by Bassam K. Frangieh, and she says it is probably what she will use next year to teach Arabic 1 & 2. Do you have any experience with this book good or bad?

    Reply
  40. Good Day

    I would like to learn the arabic language how to speak and read properly.

    Is it necessary to attend classes or which books would you recommend me to buy

    Reply
    1. I've made some recommendations above, Rasheed.

      Which dialect do you want to learn?

      Reply
  41. I would like to speak fluently or communicate can u advise me to a institutions to do a one or two months course intensive

    Reply
  42. Can u recommend a good institutions to learn the Arabic language for non native speakers thats reasonable in the fees maybe a 6 months intensive course to speakwwrite read

    Reply
  43. Hi Donovan,

    I have little prior knowledge of Arabic – I know the alfabet and can read and write words, although slowly and only superficially, as I haven't practised any vocabulary. I want to get to a lower intermediate level in modern standard Arabic before starting on the Kallimni books. I prefer to self study and have been looking at the Mastering Arabic 1 & 2 books by Wightwick and Gaafar. Do you have any experience with this study program? If any of the other readers would like to give advice regarding this, please do. It would be greatly appreciated.

    Best regards,
    Stine

    Reply
  44. Hi,

    I am currently taking arabic lessons online and starting from scratch. I have been told that we will be studying kitab al asasi and then arabiyyah bayna yadayk. I hope to pursue the diploma in translation (Arabic to English) next year. Can you please advise which books might be helpful in getting from zero standard Arabic to a level 7 (Masters) qualification?

    Reply
  45. Hello..
    Besides the books recommended above for classical arabic can you please give me some more recommendations to be able to read advanced classical texts? I really need help thanks.

    Reply
  46. Have you heard of lingualism .com yet? It’s a relatively new series of Arabic learning materials, both MSA and Egyptian and Tunisian so far, which seems pretty good. I’m trying to learn Egyptian at the moment, but finding it hard to devote enough time, so I keep searching for the “easiest” method. Could you take a look and let us know what you think of this one? Thanks. I’ll also check out the Kalimni series some more.

    Reply
  47. Hello, I am living in the Turkish Republic. My country has been hit hard by the Syrian refugee crisis, having received almost two million Syrians. Some of the refrugees are living in camps, while others left those camps to seek employment in cities. Those who are skilled workers are doing relatively fine. Regrettably, thousands of less-capable Syrian men and women are reduced to begging in the streets.

    The language barrier is difficult to overcome for those people. While Turkish contains a large number of Arabic loanwords, it is gramatically unrelated to Arabic. We also pronounce Arabic words differently or assign new meanings to them (think of Greek loanwords in English); which makes it impossible for Arabs to communicate with us.

    Our government hopes that once the Syrian civil war is over, the refugees will simply return to their homeland. I suspect that those displaced by war will remain displaced; that we have to accept Syrians as a fact of life. My country is good at absorbing large numbers of migrants: During the 19th century and the early 20th, millions of people fled Crimea, the Caucasus and the Balkan Peninsula to settle in Anatolia.

    I want to learn some Arabic, and this ‘Kalimni Arabi’ series that you recommend looks interesting. But appearantly it teaches Egyptian, not Syrian, Arabic. I heard that is is difficult for someone who only studies Egyptian to understand a Syrian person’s speech. Should I go with this series; or is there another book, better suited to someone who wants to communicate with Syrians, that you’d like to recommend to me?

    Reply
    1. Yes, please I would be interested to know this too?

      Reply
  48. Thank you.

    Reply
  49. hi,
    i can understand the quranic arabic and i can even translate most of the Quran but when it comes to understanding spoken arabic i find it very difficult.what do you suggest me.?
    thanks.

    Reply
    1. i think you should listen a lot to speeches in arabic

      Reply
  50. Do you know this book?

    Arabic for Nerds
    270 Questions on Arabic Grammar

    It is published in English and available on amazon.

    I found it pretty useful as it explains stuff like how to express “still”, various tenses, if-clauses, etc. It is mainly in English but only uses Arabic terms (written in Arabic) and it is fully vocalized. Sometimes, it is a bit tough, but it helped me a lot.

    Reply
  51. Hello everyone .. my name is Shady from Saudi Arabia .. I m 23 years old and If you want to learn arabic language but don’t want to pay for class, i can help you .. if you want to learn my native language for free and teach me English .. just add me at
    [email protected]

    Reply
  52. Donovan,

    I regularly read your blog and enjoy the contributions you have made to my arabic learning experience. However, this particular article left me a little disappointed.

    Let me explain. My boyfriend is just starting out with arabic; he knows the arabic alphabet and has a rudimentary vocabulary. Based on your glowing reviews, he purchased the Kalimni series. When it arrived, we both checked out the book but found it impenetrable. I have been studying arabic for a year and would put myself at Advanced Beginning. Why is there so little direction for the book? Where to begin? The text is overwhelming. I wish there had been more detail, so that we could avoid what has become a regretful purchase. I can’t help but wonder if you have even looked at the beginner book for the series as it does not seem suited for a beginner at all.

    Donovan, I have come to put a lot of stock in your opinion on resources and on language-learning in general. Thank you for being one of the rare resources on the internet for Arabic and putting out quality content. My comment comes off harsh, but I mean it more as advice to other visitors of this page.

    Reply
  53. Hi Donovan 🙂

    My daughter has left Australia to work in Dubai and wants to learn conversational Arabic. I see that Duolingo has yet to create a program and app for English speakers to learn Arabic. Would you know of a clear, kinda simple online course or app she could use? Many thanks for your help with this.

    Reply
  54. Hi Donovan,

    Many thanks for this helpful post.

    I’m moving to Cairo next year, so I’ve straightaway followed your suggestion and ordered the first two instalments of the Kalimni ‘Arabi series. (I have some basic knowledge of ECA (Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, for browsers here) already, but need to consolidate and build on it.)

    I intend also to learn MSA (Modern Standard Arabic). As a casual squash player, I’m aware that getting decent at one racket sport while learning another (such as tennis) is often a bad idea. Do you have a view on this with regard to Arabic? That is, would you suggest that I leave MSA until I have a really sound knowledge of ECA?

    I was interested to read about your language-learning history. I, too, have a background in Koine Greek at university (via, first, Ancient Greek at school) and also studied Hebrew. Having mainly learnt dead languages (Latin, also) my style of learning is very much tabular (I seem to be able to soak up tables of declensions, conjugations, etc, very easily, perhaps because it’s been the way I’ve always done these things, and less good at having an ear for languages.) So if it weren’t for needing to actually communicate with people I’d be tempted to focus on Classical/MSA. Anyhow, if you have any thoughts on learning the two in parallel I’d be very interested.

    Anyhow, I’m going to go and check out some of your other posts now. And get hold of the biography of the eponymous polyglot of this site — he sounds fascinating.

    Cheers,
    Ben

    Reply
  55. Hi, Donovan and readers

    I found this very useful, your recommendations. Also your comments up above. I’m not English native speaker neither Arabic is my language, but I love and enjoy learning. After this blog I’m considering buy the first one.

    Few days ago in my research of online lessons, downloadble books and all this stuff to learn Arabic, I bought Mastering Arabic by Jane Wightwick and I’m waiting for its arrive, so do you guys have a previous experience with it?

    Thanks a lot Donovan and all readers.

    Best regards from México.

    Reply
  56. Hi Donovan!

    I really liked your tips about learn a new language with the lexical approach. I think it is the most effective method. I am learning English and I need some help to find a book to study like those Arabic books that you use to study by yourself. Do you have any recommendation? How can I find a book like that Kalimni? I know that we have more books about learn English than any other language, but I really didn’t find a great material to use and I’m feeling like I’ll never move on from this plato. Thank you man!

    Reply
  57. Hello,

    Thank you for writing this post. I came across your post when I was googling on how/where to learn classical arabic. My keen interest is in classical arabic because I want to understand the Quran. I don’t mind not knowing how to communicate in arabic with others because that is not my primary goal. I have some basic in arabic (learnt it several years ago at school but after not using it that much I have forgotten a lot). Please could you give me some tips in learning classical arabic? Thank you for your help

    Reply
  58. Hi, Thanks for the great info. I wonder if you could give me some advice? I would like to learn Levantine Arabic? Would these be a good place to start or could you recommend anything else? It’s very confusing knowing where to start with learning the dialect but I would like to communicate with people from Syria / Iraq and go on to learn Persian later. Any advice gratefully received!

    Reply
  59. Hi. very nice article! I am living in Kuwait right now for over a year and i am facing problems learning Arabic although the job that i am doing is facing many Arabic clients but still i am struggling. @Rowan Can you please suggest me a book that will help me learn Arabic more quickly and accurately.

    Thanks

    Reply
  60. Hi, I suggest this excellent textbook to learn Tunisian Arabic:
    Tunisian Arabic in 24 Lessons
    supplementary resources are: Tunisian Arabic-English Dictionary
    & Survival Tunisian Arabic
    Available in all major libraries worldwide or on Amazon.
    Thanks

    Reply
  61. Also check this one

    Reply
  62. Hi I’m planning to start with Egyptian Colloquial arabic but I just have very limited knowledge of arabic at the moment. Will the kalimni series be helpfull to me?

    Thanks

    Reply
  63. I found the list interesting. My son is studying arabic and both in the US and Morroco they used the Al Kitaab books and it seems like the university does the same?

    Reply
  64. hi. i purchased kallimni arabi bishweesh for starting arabic. how do i use it? i can’t read or understand the script. how do you recommend a self study routine for a classroom textbook? i am short on finances (16 YEAR OLD HIHGHSCHOOL STUDENT LOL) and therefore can’t afford a regular tutor.

    how can i glean as much as possible from this book?

    thank you

    jonathan

    Reply
  65. Hi…thanks for all the useful tips you have on the site!
    I am learning Levantine Arabic and wondering whether you know Wightwick’s Easy Arabic Reader? Specifically, does it use dialects or MSA, and is it possible to find the online audio that is advertised? I have read quite a few comments from people who could not find the audio, which diminishes the value of the material quite a bit for me.

    Reply
  66. Hey!!

    I really love this. Is there a sort of… Lebanese Dialect I can get? Or is Egyptian super close? I am a HUGE beginner. So, i don’t know much except that theres Muslum arabic and regular arabic.

    Reply
  67. Hi
    Do you have any suggestions for basic arabic stories for beginners?

    Reply
  68. For someone who doesn’t rely too heavily on the internet, would you(all) recommend still using online language resources? Aside from the books recommended for learning Arabic what else would you(all) suggest to someone who doesn’t want to stare at a screen or use computers very often? I’m not a Luddite just an ill adjusted millenial. I’m willing to get with some online stuff but prefer to work in tandem with physical books or downloadable software or CD-ROMs. I’m a complete beginner and so slightly embarrassed to even admit of my interest in learning Arabic when I don’t know much about the language.

    Reply
    1. Joe, depending on where you live I’d suggest just getting out and connecting with an Arabic-speaking community in your area.

      Nothing beats it.

      Reply
  69. New method to learn Arabic. Very fast.very easy.and in your language!!
    Big list of verbs to express yourself as a native speaker
    .learn a real Arabic not a dialect so you will be understood by every Arabic speaker on the world. Tv. News. And more!!
    You can download free audio or have more details on this ebook here:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LBPRT1
    Success guaranteed

    Im a native Arabic speaker. I strictly recommend Arabic learners to avoid dialects.. Just learn Arabic with it’s principles as written on books and you will be able to speak dialects easily.. Ex
    How are you
    كيف حالك
    It’s in arabic
    Let’s say it in Egyptian
    ..izayak!!!
    Its used only in egypte but
    كيف حالك

    Is used by every Arabic speaker on the world and on written forms..

    Good luck.. .salam
    سلام

    Reply
  70. As no one speaks Arabic, ie the book language heard in broadcasting and formal situations the so-called dialects are much more useful. Acquiring a working knowledge of two e.g. Egyptian and Levantine is usually adequate for communication in most Arabophone countries except maybe the Maghrib where a knowledge of French helps matters.
    The phonological differences between the dialects are easy learnt and grammar points of divergence in the urban forms of both are logical and frequently arise from phonological factors such as word stress.
    Kullu Tamâm from the American University in Cairo is a good intro to Egyptian and Colloquial Arabic(Levantine) from Routledge is a preparatory text for ‘Greater Syrian’ Arabic.
    There are many Arabic texts, for all varieties, downloadable gratis on the net.

    Reply
  71. Great! What if I am interested in a specific filed and I’d like for example to study Arabic through literature?

    Reply
  72. I want to understand Quran and Hadeeth in Arabic. How to go about it ?

    Reply
  73. Some reviews on Amazon of the Media Abrabic book say there are errors Ana missing pages in the book. Is that something you noticed?

    Reply
  74. I really love Arabic for Nerds (270 questions about Arabic Grammar) by Gerald Drißner (Drissner). It is perfect to brush up grammar. I recently bought his new book called Arabic for Nerds 2. It is huuuuuge! 828 pages, 450 questions, it bascially covers everything about Arabic grammar. It digs pretty deep into the structure. A no brainer if you are advanced.

    Reply
  75. According to studies carried out by Sky News Arabia, different international languages ​​have been classified according to the difficulty of learning and the time it takes, and among those who require their employees to learn languages, the Institute of Foreign Services of the US government. The Institute divided the degree of difficulty learning languages ​​into 5 categories , Arabic came in the fifth category; the hardest, along with Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

    Reply
  76. I admire your learning desire,

    You can learn Chinese and talk like you are born in Beijing and also the case with the Japanese and the Basque Country but the Arabic language on the contrary is different from the perceptions that are difficult to be mastered by non-Arabs, there are Arabic grammatical and rhetoric very difficult even Arabs can touch this.

    In any case, I am in the habit of learning English and I hope to be successful in replying and I am afraid of the lapses and of course I am happy in providing help to the Arabic language teachings for all.

    And thanks ✋

    Reply
  77. Listening to the Quran is important in learning the language, you can learn as soon as you hear, the Quran is considered the peak of the language distinct in rhetoric and the absence of linguistic errors,

    Reply
  78. The Kallimni Arabi series is a scam! The books don’t contain any English at all so they are totally and 100% useless! Furthermore, the website that the books’ audio exercises were on was shut down! These books are trash and Donovan Nagel should be ashamed to plug this crap!!!

    Reply
    1. > “The books don’t contain any English at all”

      So you’re learning English then? Or are you learning Arabic? Stop blaming the series (and me) and blame yourself for being an impatient learner.

      The book series has instructions written in simple colloquial Egyptian Arabic (not MSA) – this is very rare for an Arabic series. Outstanding book for serious learners of Arabic.

      Reply
  79. Thank you very much! This was very helpful.
    شكراً 🙂

    Reply
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