The Mezzofanti Guild Language Learning Made Simple

21 Best And Worst Online Arabic Courses (Expert Opinion)


When learners are looking for the best online Arabic courses, they often end up here. 🙂

In case you’re new on this site and don’t know who I am, I’ve been learning Arabic now for almost two whole decades, worked as an Arabic translator and even started a company that teaches Arabic to foreigners.

My main strength is Egyptian but I can understand most major dialects to varying degrees.

Back when I first started out learning Egyptian Arabic, I struggled to find dialect-specific Arabic resources and courses – all of the few that existed back then were for Modern Standard Arabic (or Classical).

The situation for Arabic dialects has only slightly improved since then (mostly because I drew attention to the problem).

Today I want to sum up the best and most popular online Arabic courses (I’ve used almost all of them) and give you my personal opinion as a fluent Arabic learner.

I’ll highlight which dialect/s is/are offered and what you can expect to get from the course.

As you’ll see below, there are some Arabic courses that I’m not particularly fond of, and in some cases I’ve already written extensively on (which I’ve linked to).

Table Of Contents:

  1. TalkInArabic.com
  2. Rocket Arabic
  3. Glossika Arabic
  4. ArabicPod101
  5. Mango Languages: Arabic
  6. Transparent Language: Arabic
  7. Pimsleur
  8. Egyptian Arabic Absolute Beginner’s Workshop
  9. Rosetta Stone Arabic
  10. Madinah Arabic
  11. Decks
  12. Other Udemy Arabic Courses
  13. Arab Academy
  14. Language Transfer: Arabic
  15. Speak Moroccan
  16. Mondly Arabic
  17. Michel Thomas Arabic
  18. Duolingo Arabic
  19. Busuu Arabic
  20. Living Language Arabic
  21. Foreign Service Institute (FSI)

NOTE: Some of the items listed below aren’t technically “courses” for Arabic. I’ve included a few resources that are important enough to be included. Also, comparing ‘free’ courses to ‘paid’ courses/products is a bit like comparing apples to oranges but I’ve listed some anyway.

 

The very best Arabic courses (crème de la crème of Arabic resources)

I’ll start with the few that I highly recommend.

These are personal favorites of mine and course products that I consistently recommend on this blog. If you were to only take a few quick suggestions from this list, these are the top courses for Arabic.

1. TalkInArabic.comAll Dialects. Naturally Spoken.

Dialects: Egyptian, Levantine, Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Sudanese, Saudi, Iraqi

Cost: $12.95 monthly | $97 annually | $197 lifetime

Summary: TalkInArabic.com began as a personal project to fill the dialect resource gap and quickly evolved into the largest and fastest growing spoken Arabic dialect resource to date. It’s not actually a “course” per se (so putting it on this list may be a stretch!). Think of it as a resource bank – something for independent Arabic learners, teachers and students to draw on as they progress.

You’ll find a wide variety of lesson topics in 8 major dialects. Lessons range from absolute basics – e.g. ‘how to say hello in Tunisian Arabic’ to very advanced and specific – e.g. ‘getting your plumbing fixed in Jordanian Arabic’. New content is constantly rolled out in different dialects, which usually includes either a video (interactive subtitles recently added), audio podcast, vocab, transcripts and lesson notes.

Lessons are intentionally short and very easy to digest.

Also, for those passionate about humanitarianism, most of TalkInArabic.com’s content is sourced directly from refugee teachers, providing their families with an income.

Read this detailed review of TalkInArabic.com from a student and advanced Arabic speaker.

What you’ll like:

  • Literally the only resource of its kind – a resource that’s dedicated solely to spoken Arabic dialects and presenting 100% natural content in easily digestible formats.
  • Ever-expanding content that is added to on a weekly basis by native speakers of various dialects.
  • Variety of different formats to learn from including podcast, dialogues, vocab audio and video.
  • Most of the content is taught by or sourced from refugees, providing them with an income.
  • Inexpensive.

What you won’t like:

  • It’s not technically a “course” but rather a content provider for Arabic dialects.

LIMITED TIME OFFER: If you add the coupon code MEZZOGUILD at checkout, it’ll instantly shave 20% off the price of any membership option.


2. Rocket Arabic

Dialect: Egyptian

Cost: Starts from $99.95 (auto-applied discount)

I’ve always enjoyed the Rocket Languages series and the Arabic edition is always one of my top recommendations. Of all the Arabic course options here, Rocket Arabic suits the structured learner most as it’s designed to be followed in a linear progression.

But you’re not obligated to follow their path and you can skip lessons if you want to.

The audio lessons are delivered in both a podcast-style format that’s very easy to follow, and audio dialogues that give you just the Arabic dialogue you need and nothing more (which I love). Rocket Arabic’s course covers all language skills very well, and their inbuilt voice recognition is extremely accurate (it uses Google’s Web Speech technology).

For structured learner types, it’s a great Arabic course.

Read my extensive review of Rocket Arabic.

What I like:

  • It teaches a spoken dialect (Egyptian) and not MSA.
  • For learners wanting structure in their course learning (though not restrained by it), it has a very clear linear progression.
  • It covers all 4 major skills evenly (listening, speaking, reading, writing).
  • It’s very comprehensive.
  • Students are motivated by the inbuilt leaderboard.

What I don’t like:

  • Needs advanced levels to offer higher-level students something more.

UNIQUE OFFER: If you sign up to my mailing list (use the ‘Join The Guild’ form below) and select Arabic as your language option, I’ll send you a personal offer for Rocket Arabic that’s exclusive to my email subscribers.


3. Glossika Arabic

Dialects: Modern Standard, Egyptian and Moroccan

Cost: $30 a month

Summary: Glossika is one of the most unique language products available and, in my opinion, one of the very few that uses a natural, research-grounded method. In fact, the Glossika method aligns very closely with how I personally learn languages (including Arabic) and I’ve seen tremendous success doing it.

The basic crux of the Glossika courses (currently MSA, Egyptian and Moroccan) is high repetitive of lexical chunks – in other words, listening over and over to a sequence of sentences at natural speed and repeating them. It is hands down the most effective trainer for listening comprehension.

Arabic grammar is absorbed naturally without tedious memorization of rules. Just lots of listening and repeating!

See my epic Glossika review and interview with its founder.

What I love:

  • One of the closest Arabic course products to my own personally-developed, proven learning style.
  • No grammar memorization or unnatural language learning.
  • Well-suited to Arabic learners who prefer audio rather than visuals.
  • Access to every other language and language pair with one single subscription.

What I’m not a fan of:

  • Needs a better way to teach students how the approach works.
  • Audio of some languages (not Arabic) is of an inconsistent quality.
  • Reported errors in scripts (I’ve yet to encounter any personally).


4. ArabicPod101 (Innovative Series)

Dialects: MSA, Egyptian and Moroccan

Cost: Starts as low as $4 a month

Summary: ArabicPod101 has come a long way in the last two years. It used to be a messy mishmash of very low quality audio and video in various dialects but they’ve since introduced learning ‘pathways’ and greatly improve the quality of their content.

ArabicPod101 teaches using a podcast format (usually two hosts bantering about a particular topic). There are also videos that different topics at different levels.

Like Rocket Arabic and TalkInArabic.com, transcripts and PDF’s are downloadable and high quality for the most part.

There’s a fairly even distribution of dialect material – Moroccan, Egyptian and MSA.

Check out my popular ArabicPod101 review for more info.

What I love about it:

  • It covers two major spoken dialects at present and also offers MSA content for those wanting it.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Abundance of Arabic lessons to work through – no shortage of content.

What I don’t like about it:

  • 3 major dialects on offer (Egyptian, Moroccan and MSA) are not clearly distinguished in some cases so the learner doesn’t always know what they’re learning.
  • Low quality, old videos in some of the lessons.


5. Mango Languages Arabic

Dialects: Egyptian, Levantine, Iraqi and Modern Standard

Cost: $7.99 a month

Summary: I have to admit (to my own shame) – in the almost decade that I’ve been running this site and reviewing language products, I only recently tried Mango Languages (Arabic).

I honestly can’t believe I didn’t try it earlier.

Mango Languages has implemented what I believe to be one of the most intuitive ‘chunking’ approaches in its course style (very close to my own personal method). It does this by avoiding grammar explanations and instead highlighting lexical chunks in colors to help you learn language patterns.

One of the best features I’ve seen in a language product. Period.

The only problem with Mango is that it’s quite lightweight on its course depth. If they developed advanced courses for Arabic and other languages, I’d be a raging fan.

Why I love it:

  • Mango’s intuitive ‘chunking’ interface is one of the best implementations I’ve ever seen in a language product
  • Beautifully designed and a pleasure to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Multiple dialect offerings

What I don’t like about it:

  • Lacks the course depth I would expect to see in such a great platform making it mostly unsuitable for higher-level learners


6. Transparent Language: Arabic

Dialects: Levantine, Iraqi and Modern Standard Arabic

Cost: Starts at $12.49 a month

Summary: Easily one of the most surprising online Arabic courses I’ve tried – I was blown away at how comprehensively Transparent Language have covered the Iraqi dialect especially. Oddly, they provide Levantine and Iraqi but no Egyptian.

The system and interface are quite dated and slow which is a real drawback, but if you can look past that, Transparent Language provides a real depth of Arabic content for two spoken dialects and MSA.

Voice recognition comparison is non-existent in Transparent Language. It relies on recording on your voice and showing you your sound wave to compare with the native speaker’s sound wave.

No inbuilt system to automatically compare sounds.

Programs like Rocket Arabic used to do the same thing but recently incorporated Google Web Speech to compare pronunciation. I don’t know why Transparent Language haven’t done this since it’s so easy to implement.

The Transparent Language course has a “Produce it. Say it.” section that literally asks you “Were you right?”.

In other words, no way to automatically detect whether you were correct or not – it relies on your own determination. This is incredibly outdated.

Overall, if you can look past the outdated design and deficient voice recording aspect, Transparent Language Arabic is an outstanding course option (especially for Iraqi learners).

What I like:

  • One of the very few online Arabic courses that offers Iraqi – and does it extremely well
  • Arabic dialogue (at least for the Iraqi one I used) is 100% natural speed
  • Extensive coverage and depth of content

What I don’t like:

  • Outdated and slow interface that’s a pain to navigate
  • Pronunciation section has no inbuilt voice recognition to compare to native dialogue


7. Pimsleur Arabic

Dialects: Levantine, Egyptian and Modern Standard

Cost: $14.95 a month subscription (or $119.95 per level)

Summary: Pimsleur’s a household name that’s been around for many decades and earned its reputation as one of the best courses for Arabic (and other languages). It’s 100% audio and the entire course involves spaced-repetition recall of phrases within specific cultural scenarios.

In terms of just how much you get out of it, I’d say Pimsleur is a good entry point for Arabic but it will only familiarize you with the basics. Treat Pimsleur Arabic as a foundational course and then move on to something more broad.

Pimsleur does not offer any video or written content. It’s purely audio (a good thing).

There’s a Levantine Arabic course (called “Eastern”), Egyptian and Modern Standard Arabic.

Read my extensive and very detailed Pimsleur review for more info.

What I like:

  • Timeless classic that was developed on solid SLA studies and has remained useful for decades.
  • Pimsleur’s spaced repetition algorithm is extremely effective at training recall in Arabic.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Gets you repeating and recalling phrases constantly.

What I don’t like:

  • Since it’s decades old, certain expressions may seem dated and irrelevant.
  • Does not equip you as well as it should for listening comprehension (too much English).


8. Egyptian Arabic Absolute Beginner’s Workshop (Andrew Dempsey)

Dialect: Egyptian

Cost: ~$30 (much cheaper if you wait for a Udemy discount)

Summary: I’ve actually known Andrew Dempsey since my very first trip to Egypt almost two decades ago. In fact, the first time I encountered him, he was preaching a sermon in Qasr i-Dobara in Cairo — in Arabic! He’s an American with an Egyptian wife and has spent many years in Egypt, including working for the American University of Cairo. One of the first language product investments I ever made was his Egyptian Arabic Vocab Clinic which was absolutely pivotal in my early learning in Egypt.

Andrew’s an all round great guy and an expert in Arabic.

He runs a course for beginners on Udemy that’s extremely affordable given the depth of the knowledge he offers. I highly recommend anything with his name on it.

What I like:

  • I personally know and can vouch for Andrew’s experience and expertise in Arabic.
  • Covers essential Egyptian Arabic fundamentals in a detailed, yet straight-to-the-point manner.

What I don’t like:

  • Not a fan of Udemy as a platform.
  • As an advanced learner, I’d love to see Andrew create an advanced program offering.


 

Other great Arabic courses

I’ve mentioned my personal favorites above but there are loads more quality online course options for Arabic.

Read on for more.

9. Rosetta Stone Arabic

Dialects: Modern Standard Arabic

Cost: Starts at $6.49 a month

Summary: My chief complaint about Rosetta Stone used to be for its high price but it recently switched over to a subscription model and now is unbelievably cheap.

RS is a household name that everyone’s heard about. It tends to get sharp criticism for its method but as I’ve pointed out in the past, people criticize Rosetta Stone because they’re either: a) impatient or b) not willing to allow the method to work for them. Rosetta Stone is all about intuition – it doesn’t give you quick answers or translations.

You infer meaning gradually.

No grammar rules. Just intuitive inference.

It’s one of the most innovative Arabic courses (and all languages) to date, in my opinion. They just need to focus on Arabic spoken dialects and ditch Modern Standard.

But if Modern Standard Arabic is your target, then it’s worth it.

I wrote an extensive and detailed review of Rosetta Stone that you should check out.

What I love about it:

  • Rosetta Stone is, to this day, one of the few major language course products that is genuinely innovative and different
  • The RS immersion approach (using pictures and intuitiveness to learn) is a genuinely powerful approach that works (if the student’s patient)
  • Very comprehensive overall
  • Inexpensive (used to be outrageously expensive until they changed to a subscription model)

What I don’t like about it:

  • It teaches Modern Standard Arabic and applies it in unnatural scenarios
  • Voice recognition is often inaccurate for Arabic


10. Madinah Arabic

Dialect: Classical

Cost: Free

Summary: So, I’ve included Madinah Arabic here for those who want to learn Classical (Quranic) Arabic. Despite having a very old design, it’s actually quite comprehensive in its course content and is 100% free to use.

Madinah includes a section to learn the alphabet (all letters are clickable so you can hear how they sound) and then an extensive grammar lessons section.

Overall, an impressive free tool.

However, I should add that this resource is really geared toward people learning to read the Quran and the language is “very fus7a”. 🙂

What you’ll like:

  • I like the way that Madinah has made extensive use of tables that can be clicked to play corresponding audio. It’s a simple feature but works very well.
  • Madinah Arabic has a very active YouTube channel with plenty of situational dialogues to watch (though the dialogues are all in fus7a).
  • It’s all free to use.

What you won’t like:

  • If you’re not learning classical Arabic or Quran, find another resource.
  • Dialogue content (including in the videos on YouTube) are all in classical Arabic. This is unnatural and largely pointless since nobody speaks like this in the Arab world.
  • Site is very outdated in its design. It works fine but not visually appealing.


11. Decks

Dialects: Modern Standard, Classical, Egyptian, Levantine, Moroccan

Cost: Free

For some bizarre reason, Memrise thought it would be a good marketing decision recently to move its free “community” courses to a site called Decks, while running a premium subscription on the original Memrise site.

From what I gather, Decks is identical to what Memrise use to offer.

These are 100% free community-added courses in the form of a gamified flashcard deck. You select a language or dialect, then go through a flashcard game of “watering plants”. It’s highly addictive and actually quite effective.

There are lots of different Arabic dialects covered but not all courses are good. Look for ones that include audio and, in my opinion, teach phrases rather than words.

What I like:

  • It’s an effective memorization tool for phrases and words.
  • The addictive nature of the game gets you coming back often to continue learning.
  • It’s all free.
  • There are loads of community-driven courses to choose from.

What I don’t like:

  • As it’s community-driven, you can’t always guarantee quality (some courses are absolute shite).


12. Other Udemy Arabic courses

Dialects: Egyptian, Levantine, Moroccan, Classical and Modern Standard

Cost: Prices vary widely

Summary: I already mentioned Andrew Dempsey above who I can definitely vouch for.

But I thought I’d also just throw it out there that Udemy has literally thousands of independent courses for Arabic to choose from. Far too many for me to go through here but it’s worth checking out to see what you can glean from the list.

My advice is to wait for sale periods when courses go dirt cheap then buy a bunch of them.

What I like:

  • Tonnes of course options for Arabic in many different dialects.
  • Udemy can be very affordable if you wait for their regular sale periods (prices drop enormously).

What I don’t like:

  • The problem with Udemy, as with any community-driven site, is that quality varies considerably with each Arabic course instructor.


13. Arab Academy

Dialects: Egyptian, Modern Standard and Classical

Price: Starts at $99 a month

Summary: Full disclosure on this one – I only have second-hand info about Arab Academy (but from trusted sources).

I’ve known about Arab Academy almost since I started learning Arabic because teachers and fellow students would often recommend their services to me.

I can’t independently verify the quality of Arab Academy (I don’t like adding recommendations to resources I haven’t tried) but going off what I’ve been told by multiple friends, it’s fantastic and worth it. I would still question the value of Arab Academy over, let’s say, a quality italki teacher however.

What I like:

  • Recommended to me often by trusted friends and other Arabic teachers
  • Courses are accredited
  • Cairo immersion trips/courses are offered for Arabic students.

What I don’t like:

  • Arab Academy’s courses may be more redundant nowadays with services like italki around


14. Language Transfer: Arabic

Dialect: Egyptian

Cost: Free

Summary: I really respect the work that Language Transfer has done for Arabic and other languages, putting together courses that have depth at no cost to the listener.

But my opinion of Language Transfer is very much the same as that of Michel Thomas (as it appears to be a close knock-off of the same method). Teacher-controlled, excessive use of English, “don’t try to memorize”, poor pronunciation examples, no natural opportunities to listen or converse. At least it’s free.

It’s a great free resource to help get your head around tricky concepts but as an Arabic language course, I don’t see a lot to gain from Language Transfer.

What I like:

  • Language Transfer is a free initiative that seems to offer a lot (in Arabic and other languages) at no cost
  • It does a fairly good job at explaining difficult grammatical concepts for new beginners in Arabic

What I don’t like:

  • Non-native speaker
  • It’s basically a Michel Thomas course knock-off which I’ve never been a fan of (see below)
  • Too much English
  • Explicit grammar explanations are an unnatural way to learn a language


15. Speak Moroccan

Dialect: Moroccan

Cost: Free

Summary: This is a blog by a Moroccan native named Asma that’s been around for a long time and has quite a detailed course structure for Moroccan Arabic – all for free. Half the site is written in English, and the other half is French (in fact, the majority of the site is tailored for a French audience wanting to learn Moroccan).

I’ve listed this here because there’s not a whole out there for Moroccan and this free course content is very helpful for what it is.

What I like about it:

  • Completely free to read and use.
  • Quite comprehensive for Moroccan course material.
  • Offered in both English and French.

What I don’t like:

  • Some of the course items are missing or incomplete.
  • Site is no longer actively maintained.
  • French is the dominant language of the site so English learners might need to translate the French pages.


16. Mondly Arabic

Dialect: Modern Standard Arabic

Cost: Starts at $9.99 a month

I actually quite like Mondly and think it has a lot of potential as a language app but the Arabic edition just isn’t good enough yet. This was one of those Arabic courses that I wanted to be able to recommend to people but couldn’t because it’s too lacking.

The most immediate issue for me is the total lack of Arabic script. It uses transliteration (Arabic written using English letters) which is a very bad approach. They should include a quick reading lesson to cover the Arabic alphabet and then only use it.

I like that Mondly doesn’t just drill grammar and really gets you focused on learning Arabic phrases.

A potentially quality Arabic course but just not quite there yet (for the record, I did like it for other languages).

What I like:

  • Beautifully designed app and web interface makes it a pleasure to use.
  • Clear and easy progression through the Arabic lessons.
  • Inexpensive.

What I don’t like:

  • No Arabic script.
  • Doesn’t include spoken dialects in conversation lessons where it would be most appropriate.


 

Arabic courses that I’m not a fan of and wouldn’t personally recommend

There are some online Arabic courses that just don’t cut it, in my opinion.

These are well-known course products that are liked by some people but I’ve found significant issues when reviewing them. I’ve listed them here.

17. Michel Thomas Arabic

Dialects: Egyptian and Modern Standard Arabic

Cost: Starts from $11.99

Summary: I reviewed Michel Thomas Arabic extensively a short while back and ended up with almost nothing positive to say about the course (both levels). The Michel Thomas method is, in my opinion, full of holes and defies current research conclusions in SLA.

The basic premise of Michel Thomas Arabic is that you relax like a client in a psychologist’s chair, and let the teacher control your learning. You’re told “never to try to learn”, no memorization, no outside practice, no student responsibility.

Michel Thomas teachers guide students through correcting their every mistake on the spot.

There’s no listening comprehension training and no natural conversation opportunities during sessions.

Yet, for some bizarre reason, MT has a cult following of diehard fans (I recently shared my theory on why this is).

Overall, Michel Thomas might be a useful primer but I would never recommend this course to anybody.

Read my detailed and highly controversial Michel Thomas review for more info.

What I liked:

  • Michel Thomas does a good job of breaking down and explaining difficult concepts in Arabic.
  • To a certain extent, MT teaches students to learn ‘lexical chunks’ over explicit grammar rules.

What I didn’t like:

  • Teacher-controlled learning has been proven by SLA researchers to be an ineffective strategy.
  • Michel Thomas teaches zero listening comprehension and offers no opportunity for natural conversation practice.
  • The course teaches you about Arabic, but doesn’t teach you Arabic.
  • Way too much English, despite having a native speaker present who barely says a word.
  • Arabic pronunciation of the teacher is absolutely horrendous.
  • Celebrity endorsements and a total lack of research on Michel Thomas’ part are major red flags to me.


18. Duolingo Arabic

Dialect: Modern Standard Arabic

Cost: Free

Summary: Duolingo has become a staple for many language learners – a completely free household name to rival established companies like Rosetta Stone.

It recently released its Arabic course for free to the public to the delight of many.

I personally have never liked Duolingo and I think it’s an overrated, infantile game that offers little value other than being an addictive distraction and procrastination from real learning. People go through entire courses on the Duolingo platform and come away with nothing but a cartoon trophy.

Duolingo Arabic offers Modern Standard Arabic and seems to do a fairly accurate job in terms of grammar (I haven’t encountered any errors yet in the translations personally).

It might serve you well to get you acquainted but there are better ways to spend your study time.

Read more about why I’m not a fan of Duolingo for more info.

What I like:

  • Costs nothing to use (if you don’t count having your translations sold).
  • Fun downtime activity in between real study periods.
  • Appealing to teenagers who may want to learn Arabic with a non-intimidating course.

What I don’t like:

  • Tedious, repetitive point and click on easily predictable answers.
  • Addictive gamification that feels productive but is, in fact, a time-wasting exercise.
  • Duolingo may sell your translations.


19. Busuu Arabic

Dialect: Modern Standard Arabic

Cost: Starts at $5.83 a month

Summary: The best way I can describe Busuu Arabic is that it’s a gorgeous interface and design with amazing potential yet spoiled by deficient content. The Arabic course content is unfortunately not only MSA, but awkwardly slow and unnatural MSA.

The dialogue exercises are fill-in-the-blanks (you drop the missing word into a space as you listen to the dialogue). Vocab is introduced through pictures in a way similar to what you see in Rosetta Stone, but the problem with Busuu is the stock images they use are terrible and unnecessarily confusing.

On the plus side, Busuu has some of the best higher level lesson topics I’ve seen in any course.

Overall, I think Busuu could be a phenomenal platform if they focused on spoken dialects, used natural dialogue and ditched the stock images.

What I like:

  • One of the few online Arabic courses that appears to be accurately levelled
  • Covers quite a lot of varied content
  • Dialogue section looks and works great (unfortunately the dialogues are terrible otherwise this would be a hit)

What I don’t like:

  • Only Modern Standard Arabic
  • Pronunciation is incredibly slow and unnaturally awkward


20. Living Language Arabic

Dialect: Modern Standard Arabic

Cost: Starts from $25

Summary: It comes as no surprise to my readers that I never liked Living Language Arabic when I reviewed it several years ago. I’m including it on this list because it is one of the big names and most popular courses for Arabic (plus I get asked about it from time to time).

I found Living Language Arabic to be bland, incorrectly levelled and just a very uninspiring grammar-heavy course.

The dialect is Modern Standard Arabic.

Read my extensive review of Living Language Arabic.

What I liked:

  • Quite thorough in its Arabic grammar explanations

What I didn’t like:

  • Only covers Modern Standard Arabic
  • Incorrect levelling – especially for higher levels
  • Trashing of competitors in its marketing is extremely off-putting


21. Foreign Service Institute (FSI)

Dialects: Saudi, Modern Standard and Levantine

Cost: Free

Summary: FSI (Foreign Service Institute) is a government entity that trains diplomats and government officials in foreign languages. It offer several Arabic dialect courses that are all currently available online to download for free (includes audio).

The problem with the FSI material is that it’s literally been around for almost a century.

It’s old. Archaic, in fact.

So although you can download some comprehensive, detailed Arabic courses for free with audio, be aware that the material is literally photocopied booklets that were typed up on typewriters making it almost illegible.

If you’re patient, there’s some good value in the FSI courses but it’s so dated that I personally wouldn’t bother.

What I like:

  • Being a US government entity that trains diplomats, FSI naturally has incredible course depth.
  • Free and easy to download lesson + audio on many sites.

What I don’t like:

  • Archaic course.
  • PDF material is still just a photocopy of the original, typewritten paper so it’s dreadful to read.
  • Also contains no Arabic script – just transliteration.

 

Summary: Best online Arabic courses

I think I’ve covered just about every available online Arabic course in this post. 🙂

Of course, it needs to be said that you can have the greatest resource in the world and still not learn effectively with it.

It all really comes down to your own motivation, persistence and learning style as to whether or not a good (or bad) resource teaches you anything substantial.

I also believe that no online course for Arabic comes close to regular practice with native speakers (ideally in person or if not, with a partner on a service like italki).


Know of an Arabic course that I didn’t mention?

Share it below in the comment section.

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  1. (disclaimer: i’m not with Mango, I just really like them).

    Mango Languages does have advanced level available for Levantine Arabic. The difference is that it contains over 500 lessons, whereas the non advanced lessons only contain around 100 (or very rarely as low as 10 for languages barely developed in their catalog).

    As I write this, they have 9 languages that fall into that category. They’re all listed at the top of this page.

  2. I’ve been considering Glossika, but I’ve seen comments for some languages that the translations are Anglicized or just inaccurate. Do the Arabic courses have better accuracy?

    1. Hey Emily,
      I haven’t encountered any errors in the Arabic material myself.
      The only report I’ve heard was from the Italian edition having a mistake in it but they might have since fixed it. Not sure.

  3. I’m looking for some resources that focus mainly on Audio like Glossika. I’m at a high b2 level and need to challenge myself by hearing natural conversation. Its hard to find resources for that. Do you have any other recommendations?

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