(North) Levantine Arabic: or the spoken language of Syria and surrounding areas...

There are many requests for Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

I am writing to suggest developing a Levantine Arabic course, specifically North Levantine Arabic, the most common spoken Arabic of Syria and surrounding areas****

This language would be extremely valuable for:

  1. Helping Syrian refugees in English speaking areas
  2. Learning to speak a form of language spoken daily by natives and used in their music and TV shows (see link below)
  3. Being very intelligible to those who speak other dialects of Arabic
  4. Not necessarily needing to utilize Arabic script

It is also a very beautiful spoken language, with a rich culture, having been influenced by other/ancient Syrian languages and cultures.


  1. "Syrian Colloquial Arabic," M. Liddicoat ( --a formal/modern textbook and audio course, using both arabic and roman script

  2. Levantine Arabic on Mango ( --other platforms ARE focussing on dialects/regional languages, and supporting good programs

  3. NaTakallam, website that pairs learners with Syrian refugees who teach Levantine ( --further evidence of client demand and usefulness of this spoken form

Other: (more about NaTakallam)

****There may be confusion as alternate names include: Syrian Arabic, Lebanese-Syrian Arabic, Shami, South Syrian Arabic, Levantine Arabic, etc... but my post is about the form of Arabic commonly spoken and understood by Syrians and surrounding people, with ISO 639 code: apc

If you are also interested, please comment below :) Thank you, Frank

March 4, 2017


نعم نعم نعم!!! Yes, yes, yes!!!

March 9, 2017

I would like to see this class happen!

March 9, 2017

An informative request and language I'd like to see. You got my vote. Don't forget to inform Lrtward.

March 5, 2017

Yeah, I would to see this too, along with Egyptian Arabic.

March 5, 2017

Syrian/Levantine Arabic for 2017, please. Lots of immigrants here in Rio, and I'm eager to build some bridges.

March 9, 2017

أنا أحب هذه اللغة! I love this language! I hope it becomes available! I VOTE FOR IT!

May 16, 2017

Thank you for this, I would love this course too! I am currently learning this dialect, and it would be amazing to have it on Duolingo to practice. I think everyone would agree that the refugee crisis is one of the biggest reasons to start learning this dialect too!

June 14, 2017

Would love this! I speak MSA and Palestinian Arabic (not fluent), and would love to continue to study dialect - Syrian/Shaami is close enough and would definitely get a vote from me!

June 24, 2017

You definitely got my vote too :)

June 25, 2017

You really do not have any idea how much I want this class to exist- I and several others I know have been trying to learn Levantine for years, with no avail, all the while using Duolingo for Spanish and wishing that we could do the same in Levantine. You definitely have my vote.

September 27, 2017

Ana Kmaan

January 3, 2019

yes good idea, levantine arabic is interesting also since many lebanese and syrians are all around the world. and it is also possible to write it with latin letters.

June 29, 2017

is it Levantine that uses 3s and 7s in among the regular alphabet a lot? or is that all forms of Arabic? forgive my ignorance haha

July 25, 2017

It's just Arabic. Though I'm sure different parts the Arab world use different written customs when it comes to writing in English. The 3 is the 3ayn. The 7 is a the 7aa2 (pharyngeal h), the 2 is the hamza (sometimes an apostrophe), the 6 is the 6aa2 (velarized t), the '5 is the khaa2 (kh), '3 is the ghayn (gh), and there might be more? It's been a while since I've regularly written in Arabic.

July 25, 2017

i would love this but looks like it will never happen doesn't it. my arabic tutor really implied that it's more than just a dialect...

June 30, 2017

I’d love to learn to speak Lebanese Arabic, actually (Mashrou Leila <3). How different are they?

July 13, 2017

I would like to learn this dialect of Arabic

July 28, 2017

ערבית לדוברי עברית

July 28, 2017

I totally agree! MSA and the varieties of Arabic are a world apart and while I still think we should have an MSA course I also think that the varieties deserve their own courses. Levantine Arabic is only second to Egyptian in being widely known and understood and I think it would make for a great addition to Duo!

However, just a small point, I think that the course should try to teach general Levantine Arabic not just North because while there is a North-South split the reality is that every city/region in the Levant has its own special differences, but linguistically all of the Levant is classified as speaking a single variety, Levantine Arabic, which has further subvarieties.

October 27, 2018

It's true that every city/village and sometimes even family has a variety of Levantine Arabic, but the urban accents (Aleppo, Damascus, Beirut, traditional Palestinian cities' accents) are actually quite similar to each other and are considered by some linguistics as one dialect although with regional features.

As a side note: I don't believe that Egyptian Arabic is more understood than Levantine Arabic anymore; EA lost a lot of its status in media to LA this decade.

November 21, 2018

'Arabic' is usually considered ONE language by Arabs, but the difference - from a grammatical point of view - is definitely a difference between different closely-related languages. MSA is NOT enough for anyone learning Arabic; you need to learn an influential dialect (e.g. Egyptian, Levantine) while building some comprehension for the other 'dialects' AND learn MSA for the media and the written formal language.

Under the influence of the strict political situation of Arabic in Middle-East (many Arabs believe their unity is based on one language) and the 'second-class' view of these vernaculars, natives will commonly tell you that MSA is enough or 'better'; this is NOT correct in the slightest but saying otherwise is a political suicide. Both are very important for our daily life with the vernacular being used more often.

The word 'dialect' is quite misleading because these 'dialects' are literally our real mother languages and are - de facto - the only acceptable spoken-languages outside of media in a normal situation. A better usage would be to transliterate the word 'lahja[t]' or 'amiya[t]' as an English word instead of a confusing literal translation or using the accurate English word 'vernacular' instead.

The difference between our vernaculars and MSA (or even CA) could be compared to classical Latin, medieval Latin and early forms romance languages although we still have extraordinarily high literacy rates of this 'Latin'. Of course, you should be understood if you used it, but it will never sound normal and can be quite disturbing in an inappropriate situation.

I am a native speaker of Levantine Arabic (precisely Damascene with a little Lebanese influence) and would gladly help if I could and I believe that this variety is the most understood of all the varieties in the Middle-East. Using examples from different subvarieties of Levantine Arabic would be great but if one subvariety has to be used then I'd personally advise Damascene Arabic from a young speaker as it's used a lot in the media and should be understood anywhere; plus, refuges all over the world from Syria make this particular variety of Levantine Arabic quite interesting.

I really hope that Duolingo would revise their view of Arabic 'dialects' because while their view might apply to English (British and American), the difference in Arabic is between a written formal/media/educational language and a different normal and everyday vernacular language.

November 21, 2018

There's actually a great resource I think we could all use for learning Levantine Arabic: it's called NaTakallam and they pair you with a native speaker, any dialect you want but they excel in Levantine, and you're matched with a refugee who will teach you dialect OR modern standard Arabic - completely up to you! So you get to learn from an authentic speaker, and you're actually directly contributing to a refugee's livelihood as well (yes, its a paid service, but its pretty cheap). Most of their conversation partners live in places like Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, places where its really difficult for resettled people to find consistent work. I highly recommend it!

December 28, 2018

As mentioned in the guide you're referring to in this other message,

Duolingo decided that (Modern) Standard Arabic is Duo's Arabic language. They have declared to have no plan to develop courses for other Arabic languages/dialects.

Note: I've asked Ltward (=the person having the authorship's rights on the Guide), to add this current discussion to the list in said Guide.
But, again, it'll very likely not happen before (very) long — if it ever happens — that Duolingo adds such course in the incubator as they decided and said many times that they don't plan (at least in a middle term future) to have several courses for dialects of a given language (either teaching them or teaching from them): they don't plan to have courses specifically with Portuguese of Portugal, nor courses specifically with Spanish of Spain, nor French from Canada, nor other Arabic than MSA, nor other Chinese than the one they choose (Mandarin, I believe), etc.

April 6, 2017
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