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A non-native's view of their experience learning Arabic on Duolingo

I've just finished the Arabic tree[more like stump ;p] and I have to say it really was a good experience. It's been fun doing it all online: practising my skills and learning new stuff too.

By non-native I mean that I'm actually Somali but I know my fair share of Arabic. I've been learning it since I was a little kid and all I knew was how to greet people and a few random items. I knew apple in Arabic[tuffaaH] because that's what we call it in Somali. By last year I was learning more and more language[cause I do Arabic in school] and only this year we started doing grammar. I prefer the grammar much more cause it's easier.

This course was actually great. I've learnt more words and it's taught in a way that makes you learn. I also like the way it's set out but there are way too many Alphabet lessons. I wish I could've skipped them.

There are some things however that the course can improve on:

  1. Font- Oh my God it's so small I can barely read it.

  2. It's kind of like an MSA/ Levantine dialect mix.

  3. I kind of wished that some of the lessons in the middle of the tree were more phrases and less alphabet but that's the way it is so....

  4. There is no grammar. I wish they'd put some in

  5. We need a word bank. How else am I meant to know what words I have learnt?

  6. Get a real person to say the words instead of a robot. Swahili's better in pronunciation.

I hope the Arabic course updates soon. I'm up for more challenges.

Happy Friday and have a good day/night! ^-^

Edit: I re-read this and I've been rambling about myself. Sorry for that ^-^

July 19, 2019



I'm also having trouble with how small the font is. Surely this is something Duo can fix?


Found this application called "Wudooh" on a post where one was complaining about the font being too small. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/wudooh/nigfaloeeeakmmgndbdcijjegolpjfhn Hope this helps :)


About the grammar part, I found the book http://allthearabicyouneverlearnedthefirsttimearound.com (entirely available on the website for free) very useful (but note that I'm a false beginner, I already knew some rudiments of Arabic before).


I am not anti-anyone and I am not a stick in the mud, but am I the only one who was slightly surprised by having to translate "Is she your wife, Carrie?" Does the word "زوجتِك" even exist (yet) in Arabic? (Note the kasra). It seems the programmers have gone out of their way to promote LGBTQ stuff. I find duolingo fun and love the challenge of upping my daily score, but there are definitely some wacky sentences to translate. What's up with all the "pretty garage" questions? Not a complaint. Just an observation. LOL


Yes! My husband is Egyptian and thought this sentence made absolutely no sense. It may be it beyond his theoretical construct. Ha!!


I get your point about much of the lessons being about the alphabet, but it is a tricky alphabet ! Like I did when learning hiragana and katakana though, I personnaly think I would be better off downloading another app, focused only on the memorization of the alphabet.

But putting yourself on a complete beginner's perspective, would you have found this course well made ?


My recommendation would be that you need to pass an "alphabet" section before moving on to sentences. It would be letters and words only, building vocabulary you could use later to learn grammar. You could test out of it, obviously.


I just started the Arabic course and I personally find that I am learning faster than I ever imagined myself learning Arabic. Yes, some of the lessons have small writing at the top, however, this seems to me the best audio coverage of any language thus far, especially for the approach from English; it is most welcome!

Now I can rely on Duolingo for all of the old world languages I need: Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, and Hindi, but also Russian and Swahili; not to mention the Asian languages. Thank you DL.


I miss some explanations, but I guess they're in the making. Sure hope so cause I feel like I'm sort of stumbling in the dark and guessing too much now.


Don't forget that half the words they make you practice alphabet on is gibberish XD


I think your feedback is kinda perfect =3


Love this course but hell of a tough one for us English speakers, but well worth the challenge


I start a little bit arabic because I was curious. I mean, the main language that I am learning on DL is spanish but I was curious about arabic. I am from Canada so I have no idea how arabic works. So far, I love the course, and I love the fact that I am learning the alphabet first. It makes is more easy for me :)


Well done you. I've done 3 year's aural and oral learning of Levantine Arabic, mostly during my work commute. Now I'm retired, I'm starting to learn the alphabet. I speak and read Chinese, so the new alphabet is not going to put me off! But it's 40 years on, so I'll be slower this time and will take things steadily.


The word bank is much needed! Your feedback is literally everything I could think of.


Yes, a word bank would be great. Do the other languages have word banks?


From what I'm learning, only French and Spanish have word banks. ^-^


When you say there's no grammar, does that mean they don't go out of their way to teach you the grammar, or that the sentences provided are grammatically incorrect?


Thank you for noting the size of the font issue - I had to find my zoom settings just for duolingo.


1 - I had the same problem. Now, I installed an extension to the browser that enhances arabic script. It's way more legible, althought a bit uglier. The one I'm using is Wudooh.


It is my first time to take Arabic. I have done it as a challenge. The size of the fonts are terribly small. I would like to have more practical listening/speaking material as basic sentences in Arabic for getting by as a tourist.


Great review, thanks for sharing! Do you think you can converse in Arabic with a native speaker, sustaining a basic conversation?

And hey, I think many people here, including me, knew some amount of Arabic before starting the course. So it would be great if we could cut down on the script lessons, they are such a waste of time ;(

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