New course request: Arabic
I am very interested in learning Arabic. The language is eloquent and the words have beautiful sounds (at least that's what I think!). Would it be possible to integrate this into the Duolingo program?
711 Comments This discussion is locked.
I am Arab (from Lebanon) and let me tell you something: Arabic is a beautiful language,but it's a tough one too! it is really hard for native English speakers because it has some hard pronounciations, and the grammar is very detailed and needs a lot of concentration... however, I think they should integrate Arabic into the Duolingo program, but they should be really careful with the grammar, as well as they should figure out how they can teach the learners the pronounciations, especially the hard ones!
Arab here too. It's true that it's a tough language, but nothing is impossible. I agree with you on the grammar part. Also the spelling could be really hard to learn.
However, in everyday spoken arabic the grammar is not that hard. But that's another thing to keep in mind - every arab country has its own accent. We still understand each other, but some words aren't the same and it does sound pretty different. No one actually speaks the written type of arabic on a daily basis, only when you're required to be formal or if you're writing/reading. That's another thing that might be frustrating when learning arabic.
I completely agree with you about some of the pronunciations (personally I struggle with ط ظ ض د ذ). But through practice of pronunciation that can easily be helped. The most difficult part about learning Arabic as a native English speaker is having to learn grammar of another language when many of the same aspects aren't even taught in the States. I have always excelled in writing and grammar, but it was through blissful ignorance. I was taken aback when my ustatha said that even in English, we utilize the same tenses/concepts (simple present, perfect, imperfect, etc). So I basically had to relearn English grammar and the correct terms for everything in order to hope to understand the Arabic tenses, moods, and case markings. But there is hope! I've found Arabic grammar to be fairly similar to English in some regards, and other aspects are similar to Spanish or are easy to grasp (idafa in particular).
hey! if i have the option on a different website (until duolingo starts teaching Arabic), and i want to communicate with my best friend's family (they are Lebanese and Palestinian), which dialect should i learn? please and thanks! (options available: Chadian, Jordanian, Mauritanian, Moroccan, or Tunisian)
Arabic seems to pose many unique challenges to learners in this format. First and foremost, the Arabic language is a Semitic language not related to Persian/Farsi/Dari, Urdu, or Kurdish even though they all - to some extent - share an alphabet and some vocabulary. The morphosyntactic structure of Arabic is the primary challenge, as it doesn't lend itself easily to being understood in terms of affixes or unique endings as in many Indo-European languages. It is a root-and-pattern based language where the underlying semantic bases undergo systematic internal transformation to arrive at a particular meaning.
Secondly, the situation of diglossia between Modern Standard Arabic and the many dialects. MSA, or الفصحى is not spoken by anyone as a conversational first language, and by very few as a conversational second language. A Duolingo course generally focuses on communicative competence, something that MSA is not really going to provide in a situation trying to communicate with native speakers.
As well, the concepts of case and tense are fairly transparent in Arabic, but the (numerous!) derived noun forms and verbal patterns are fairly complex and I wouldn't think they would be easy to pick up through Duolingo's format of learning by example rather than explicit grammatical instruction.
The dialects are widely spoken, but also widely varying in syntax, vocabulary and idiom. In the U.S. at least, Egyptian and Levantine are the most popular to study, but unlike MSA, no standard exists for representing the sounds except perhaps "chat room" or "text message" Arabic which seems fairly universal. Several published texts have attempted to represent dialect in the Arabic alphabet, but this only approximates actual pronunciation as the six vowels (three short, three long) aren't sufficient to describe the phonology of the language as it is actually spoken.
To construct a tree aimed at general communicative competence, one would have to either choose a dialect and adhere to it throughout, or perhaps include several sections like "idiomatic expressions" that were particular to certain regions. It would probably also be of benefit to highlight the root-pattern structure throughout (maybe with pop-ups?) just so the learner gets used to seeing it. I forsee the need for a number of creative solutions to these challenges, but it seems possible. As a linguist and a student of Arabic, I would love to see Arabic come to Duolingo.
Some good points made here. If an Arabic course comes to Duolingo, I can only see it being MSA. I wasn't entirely sure but I believe your post confirms that there is no standard written form for any of the dialects. I don't like the idea of doing a course where you have to write in chat forum Arabic with all the 3s and stuff.
I think the Egyptian Dialect would be great because most people understand that dialect, there are lots of tv shows in that dialect you can use to practice and I feel that once you've got one dialect down, it's easy to pick up the others, plus it's their flag being used anyway lmao.