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My non-native view on Arabic course

I’ve read many negative views about the Arabic course by native Arab speakers. But for me as a native Dutch speaker it’s been a blessing so far.

The Arab characters are difficult to memorize and the pronunciation is a pain.

The Arab course is set up in a way that you don’t have to learn a lot of new characters at the same time. Practicing the words and letters over and over again helps me with getting to read the letters and words easier and easier.

So far I haven’t learned a lot of words. And I’m okay with that. Learning how to read is more important now than to memorize words.

I do hope they will rename the lessons that are there now. So it’ll open up the course for more lessons in which we will learn words as soon as we’ve finished this course as it is.

So I’m thrilled with this Arab course. And I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

July 9, 2019



I agree with you. I also enjoy the extensive training of reading different combinations of letters. It makes me confident that later I will be able to recognize words more easily.

I think it's in the spirit of the Duolingo trees as I have experienced them: Starting from the very basics, and progressing very slowly, so that you never lose touch with the subject matter at hand.

I agree with those who say that it should be possible to skip the initial lessons (for those who can already read the Arabic script). But for me, it's a blessing.

And, like you, I'm looking forward to seeing the next lessons.

Happy learning! :-)

  • 1353

Unfortunately, lot of the commentators do not realize or remember that it is a BETA version still. I didn't go through the course here, being a native speaker, but I'm sure it won't be as deep in literature as our Arabic classes back in school days. It would be good enough for such courses online to get you around or through an article in some newspaper (skipping the typical typos that newspapers would usually do)


Agree. I think the course is well paced and interesting. I like the character teaching method. The characters are clear.
My only criticism is that from lesson 4 or 5 when Arabic sentences are introduced, the Arabic characters in the few sentences I have read are too small.


Try this addon; it makes the sentences considerably more readable.


i totally agree. Duolingo arabic course has been of great help for me in recognizing the arabic characters as well.


I've also really enjoyed the way the course is set up. It is a bit repetitive with how the letters are introduced, but honestly, I am recalling them quickly and so I am going to stick with it and see how it goes. Great work!


I'm not a good representative, because I'm fluent in Hebrew, which is a closely related language to Arabic, but I'll add my 2 cents anyway. It is frustrating, that I'm even after the second checkpoint I didn't encounter a single verb from the beginning of this course... You can't communicate without the verbs. The final version has to teach some verbs, tenses, conjugation etc. Also, for me the Arabic alphabet wasn't very challenging, and I would devote fewer lessons to it, frankly.


Agreed! My perspective: native English speaker, fluent (C2) in Spanish, have dabbled in Mandarin Chinese. I started learning Arabic just recently, using apps, books, and other resources. I'm glad to read the critiques, but my experience has been very positive. So far, this app is helping me in ways other apps have not. I'm eager to see how it develops and expands.


I have been taking the course on Arabic for about a week, and I also enjoy the way Arab characters - they're called abjads - are introduced.

I understand the method Duolingo has adopted would be limited if deployed in a conventional setting, and thus the criticism to this first iteration (or "minimum viable product") of the course. But my experience has been good so far, and the proposed method seems to work just fine on an online, self-paced environment.

However, beta version notwithstanding, what has bugged me is the REALY slow pace in which new abjads are introduced: all five levels of each initial module cover the same few abjads again and again. Whereas repetition is an important part of learning, should someone struggle with more advanced abjads, she should practice by re-taking completed lessons. Since the course is supposed to be self-paced, being forcibly stuck in a low gear is frustating.


Since the course is supposed to be self-paced, being forcibly stuck in a low gear is frustating.

But you don't have to do the five crowns in each skill. I move through my trees basically at crown level 1, which means that I focus on each skill (in the initial Arabic skills "sets of characters") just one time.

While progressing at level 1, thus learning new stuff, I occasionally do lessons from my older skills to keep them active in my grey matter. Therefore, I don't feel like I was forcibly stuck in a low gear ...


Fair enough, I guess. Thanks for your comment!


You can also take the test to complete each crown - which gives you a lot of easy lingots!


As far as I know, calling the arabic characters abjads is like calling the latin characters alphabets.


Good to know; thanks!


I still miss learning vocabulary. Weather 1 and Geo 1 are the fist examples I find that focus more on the vocabulary than on the letters itself. From other languages i know it’s useful to learn nouns. But the lessons teaching coulours are advanced, already using them in sentences. Same with fruit. Only learning the noun alone is difficult. Learning them in a sentence is actually really hard. At least for the long term memory. Also, very few verbs. Yes, i can read better and better, but after 19 days of learning, my word bank is still really small. I could not communicate in arabic. But I can read somewhat correct song titles or food. But I still don’t know the meaning of what I am reading. We need 20-30 more courses, focusing on vocabulary, rather than pronouncustions.

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