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A tip for Arabic Duolingoers

  • 1380

Hello everyone,
Just a quick tip, since I've not been able to type any article lately, and I thought this might be helpful to some extent, to those who are trying to learn on Duolingo.
My tip is: Mute the sound and whenever you are faced with a listening question that you must type, skip it by clicking Can't Listen Right Now. That will give you one hour of practicing without any such questions. If you can also mute the whole website/app that would make it better.


Well, it turns out that the audio here is done by a speech machine which apparently was not made and not perfected for Arabic. I think as a learner, this would be even more confusing to you as a new comer to Arabic. Of course hearing is essential to learn the language but imagine what you are hearing is, simply, wrong; The disaster is even greater that way, isn't it? I've recently realized that as I'm doing my daily dose of Turkish exercises and I've realized that the audio is also sounding strange for some words and this is beside some of the technical problems that might occur from time to time. Clicking the slow playback button doesn't help all the time as well. For Arabic though it is more than that. It is a complete DISASTER because the speech machine is not adequate at all - Putting Tanwin where it doesn't belong and spelling names wrong, and even aggressively destroying the grammar. I think the damage of such speech machine to learning Arabic is more than the benefits that you, as new comers, would gain from it. So, my tip for you: Keep on learning the writing skills and the letters, and keep that speech machine off.

As for substitutes, I really don't have much resources at hand for proper Arabic sounding. But all I can suggest is Youtube... despite having the dominance to dialects, rather than MSA.

Good Luck!

August 9, 2019



I totally agree with you, most people, if it's not ALL, that learns from listening to a machine have a lot of problems in pronounciation, even if they can be ok or very good in grammar and vocabulary, arabic might seems difficult to speak (orally) at first sight, but if you learn it like a child it'ld be funny i swear, try to avoid the machine speaker, cause believe me, sometimes it'll give you a hard time trying to be understood while using a wrong/false intonation. Just remember, that in arabic, pronounciation is not about "prounouncing the word correctly", it's more about "pronouncing each letter or the combos of letter correctly" cause you are the "Tachkil" A, OO ,EE (AE comes naturaly from some words). Anyway, try to listen to videos or stories read by a child, and avoid accents such as Egyption, Tunisian and other, cause not every arabe speaking country will be able to understand you, stick with the Fous7a).


good to know. thank you!


I completed the Turkish tree without doing any listening exercises. I felt the same way that you do. I regret it now. My listening is very weak. I didn't realise that I had a problem with listening because I didn't do any practice. If I had done the listening exercises, I would have been able to work on my listening in a systematic way. Now, I'm trying to find a way to improve my listening. Duolingo's audio for Turkish is not bad. It is not as good as listening to humans, but it's good enough to learn with. I wish I had used it in conjunction with other resources.

As for the Arabic, I think it's OK. Again, listening to humans would be better, but for a complete beginner it's adequate to become accustomed to the sound of Arabic. Any listening is better than no listening at all and it is difficult to find good listening resources for beginners.

Different people have different ways of learning. What works for you is not going to be suitable for everyone. Although it's good that you have warned people of the issues with Duolingo audio, turning off the audio is not necessarily the right approach. It didn't work for me.

  • 1380

true ... each has some educational progress and preferences. But the problem here is, the written sentence is something and what is being said by the speech machine is something else and it gives a wrong pronunciation and wrong grammar as well (in 50% of cases if not more). So, if one wants to be accustomed to the sounds of Arabic only it might work but the user must bear in mind that the error margin is quite high here. In a nutshell, with such high margin of error, I wonder really what is the real benefit that a new comer to Arabic would gain with such bad audio recording? Turning to youtube and other resources (like many here) could be the better and helps on the progress further (and keep the learner on the right track) with Arabic.


Do you only refer to whole sentences/phrases which are wrong, or is also the pronunciation of letters/syllables completely off? Since I'm just in the beginning, this would be good to know, too :)

  • 1380

I didn't go through the lessons myself as I'm a native, but to my knowledge and to what I see, the individual letters and syllables in the beginning sound OK. But sentences later on are the next thing to a disaster. I'm checking in the "sentences" section in this forum and see what people might ask about and I won't be exaggerating that 50% of the audio samples provided with these sentences are wrong in one way or another.


Thanks for your quick response! At least I will listen to the very basics, then


Yes, the pronunciation of the words and sentences are many times wrong and the grammar they use (speak) is very often wrong. But in Europe is nearly no App working with an Arabic pronunciation. But after checking the words with a native speaker and ignoring the endings of the words this still is a helpfull sourse to get used to the different way of pronunsiation than we have in English and in German. Here we can at least find a repetion of the words and get used to the melody of the language. Furthermore we get remembered of speaking the letters properly, besides they use the Egypt version in some words. So this still is far better than Quizlet. Btw, learning words is far more effective with a real vocab trainer like Memorion.


I thought about not using the sound before, because some words were so clearly wrong, but I never realised how damaging the problem could be. Thanks!


I know this post is 6 months old now but I thought I'd add my two cents anyway. I too noticed the pronunciation is off. My recommendation is to use forvo.com as a reference for pronunciation. Real humans submit recordings . You can look up specific words and a lot of the time you can find multiple people pronouncing the word. It also tells you where they are from and this can be helpful when it comes to accents.


What would you recommend for complete beginners trying to learn the alphabet and pronunciation then?

  • 1380

Unfortunately, as an Arab myself and not in the line of education, I wouldn't know any better than the learner here. Some people here in the forum do have great resources for learning sounds of Arabic better than I do (check Juliet and Elke). This said, the sounds of single letters seem OK on Duolingo, to some extent. but it is the phrases and the whole sentences that are really corrupted that even foreign non-Arab names do sound weird with this speech machine.

You can check youtube. There are plenty of people who teach and speak Arabic (non-Arabs that is). Check Mike Still on youtube. I think he's good and he spent years in the Arab world and he has useful videos as some non-Arabs testified for this. So I hope this one is good for you as well.

Bonus Tip: Stay AWAY from anyone on Youtube or any other platform telling you that ج (J) in Arabic is customary and can either be spelled as "G" or fricative "J" (as the French "J"). Standard Arabic which stemmed from Classical Arabic does not have these 2 sounds; The sound of ج is the same as "J" in Jacket, period.


I used a Noorania booklet along with youtube instruction that uses the Noorania. It is excellent for individual letters and the various combination up to 4 or 5 letters if I remember correctly. What is interesting is that it seems to be organized to exercise specific muscles in the throat and mouth so that speaking becomes easier over time. It definitely feel as if you got a numbing shot from the dentist after 45 minutes of practice. The muscles will be exhausted.

A month or two of Noorania daily practice will get you to the point of practicing with words sentences and focusing on your difficult letters and the start of grammar.

What I do appreciate about the spoken words and sounds that is in duolingo... is that it is sharpening my ear on the difficult letters. The result is my speech is more accurate when reading aloud and is quickly improving (based on my instructor / teacher comments).

  • 1380

Best of Luck!


It's duolingos fault, they don't explain much, and the speech machine ist a little bit strange in every language they offer. Especially what does this sign mean? :3 ? is ist a ch or h for german speakers or english speakers? Who can explain this? It's definitly NO letter, that's the only clear thing-

  • 1380

the sign (:3) is emoji sign ... for cute face :)

Dieser Sound hat keine Entsprechung in Englisch (oder anderen europäischen Sprachen). Daher verwenden wir (3) mit Buchstaben, wenn wir versuchen, arabischen Text in lateinischen Buchstaben zu schreiben. Diese Erfindung stammt aus den Anfängen des Internets. Andere Buchstaben werden auch für andere Geräusche verwendet.


ع = 3 Because this letter, when it’s not connected to another letter, looks like a reversed 3, we’ll write it as a 3 in English letters. For example, we write the word عَرَبِيّ as 3arabiyy.

check out the notes: https://duome.eu/tips/en/ar


Hard to hear … I recognize most of the letters by hearing!!! Wouldn't know what B or D or S or other arabic letters look like if I wouldn't have the compatible sound … of course I'm only a beginner, don't know how to do it better

  • 1380

For individual letters or syllables, it's OK. But for real comlete sentences, the errors are high in number


The Greek course has similar problems...


How can we report this to Duolingo?

  • 1380

many users been reporting (you can click report button while doing the exercises)

beside commenting in this forum. Anyway, i don't think this is really useful
the contributors for the course in some languages (including Arabic) are not quite attentive as in the case of some other languages, and I even have my doubts about the contributors of this course as they might be not professional (i.e. people with educational degree at least)

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