I've been looking for the duolingo community (on twitter) but didn't realize that could discuss in the app (if you have a computer)!!!
I've been wondering what everyone thinks about the Arabic courses! I've always wanted to learn Arabic, but have never had the resources, and am so glad that duolingo is teaching me. I'm learning so much! I'm determined! :)
Also, the fact that they added Arabic has brought me back to my Spanish studies and French refinement. It's good to be back! :)
As a native myself, I think the system here still needs "refurbishing" as it has some dialect elements, and the text-to-speech machine can say things in a wrong way or screw up the grammar. I've suggested that they bring real native voice actors, but not sure if this got heard. Many people here complained about the font size (which I think can be fixed somehow from the browser itself, in my case) but still, many do complain about it. This is beside having non-Arabic names into the course kind of make it weird for some (and to me as well). Oh well, I'm not doing the course myself anyway. But all in all, I see some people are making progress and like it as a beginning step, and some of them ask questions and people like me try to answer them as much as possible. Welcome aboard!
Good thing you have someone to go to! Well, as for me, I'm born and raised in Kuwait. As for the dialect, many people would go for Egyptian because it is wide spread (thanks to their TV shows every where) but I'd say the dialect of a place where you intend to be is the thing to go to next after MSA (and probably you would grab it quickly from locals as you live among them). In Kuwait one would say we speak the Kuwaiti dialect (some people think the Gulf region is all one dialect but it's not). Even in Kuwait we have people who slightly differ in the sounding of words and such, and we usually divide them into two main category: Hadhar (city people) and Bado (bedouins), but of course it doesn't mean that bedouins (or desert dwellers that is) are not living in houses and civilized, it's just a reference to their ancestors and what they used to do for a living. In my dialect we tend to say (J) like (Y), as in German, but bedouins assert this sound as it is in original Arabic; This is one of the differences for example. All in all, it's mutual and we don't think about it much. For this reason, learning MSA is a must and the first thing one should be doing when learning Arabic, instead of going after a dialect, because they are many and can differ by an individual or a family even.
I'm excited. I'm hoping they add more lessons. It's definitely great for learning the alphabet. I plan to eventually specialize in the Egyptian dialect.
If you want more in depth lessons from a native speaker, Dr. Imran Alawiye posts lectures on youtube where he goes through the Arabic learning texts he has written. You don't necessarily need the books to learn the content, but I'm sure they help. I believe he is teaching Modern Standard Arabic rather than a specific dialect.
I've also saved a bunch of Arabic language shows and movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime so I can hear it spoken by native speakers.