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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoloAzizieh

Arabic course is shouting for help!!

Hello duo stuff ⚘ I would like you to know that Arabic course has mistakes in pronunciation and translating, in addition to the way that they explain how to pronounce words and what words are there in the course! I am an Arabic native speaker and what I see in the Arabic course is wrong, that is not the correct information that helps you to learn the true Arabic

September 27, 2019

41 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SalahElOweidy

Yes, I second this. Not only are the pronunciations awkward. Sometimes they are completely wrong and incomprehensible and it would be a shame if people started memorising these mistakes. On another note, there should be more effort put into teaching more common day to day phrases. I know Arabs themselves have been struggling with this for 1400 years but the gap between MSA and Arabic dialects is not unbridgeable. When groups of Arabs from different countries meet they start to speak in a koine (mix of dialects) or "white Arabic" which is practically standard Arabic with some common phrases from a few countries and easily understandable by people from most MENA countries. Of course I'm not asking that duolingo invent a pan-Arab dialect (one can dream) but they could adopt it as a general ethos. Only specialists want to learn a completely literary language. The beauty of DuoLingo is spending 4 months on it and going somewhere new and talking to people!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoloAzizieh

I agree. Also you as an Arabic language learner you will never ever see numbers between letters in one word instead of letters, not in books, nor news, neither any academic sources. That’s absolutely not the right way to help non-native pronounce the strong letters, it’s even an old-fashioned way to do that, and it was mostly used between teenagers


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SalahElOweidy

To be honest teaching it that way might save a lot of time. As an Egyptian I even know quite a few people in my circles who can only write in Franco-Arabe (Arabic with numbers). They maybe only be a middle class bubble but it still exists. Egypt and the rest of North Africa have quite a few billboards in Franco. I can imagine it being quicker to teach the Abjad with and it would open a lot of doors in terms of internet content like meme pages and social media. Most lyrics for Moroccan/Tunisian rap songs would be written mainly in Franco. But I do understand the concern and think Franco-Arabe should be done carefully!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

kids use the Arabic keyboard on a touch screen now?

that's another thing the course is missing, type in answers, it's super easy to ad an Arabic keyboard to your phone, and it would be a useful thing to learn.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Captain_Sensible

This is confusing me. I do some lessons on my iPhone. I have the option of using the arabic keyboard or "use word bank". I switched to the keyboard, it is easy to install on the phone, and one learns so much better!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

Weird, i only get the type in option for answers in english. I guess i'm using it on windows, but i'm on a surface tablet, i've not used a physical keyboard in years.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

"Only specialists want to learn a completely literary language." But isn't there a huge amount of things like news media in standard Arabic? For someone who doesn't have any imminent travel plans, that seems like it might be more useful to understand than dialect?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SalahElOweidy

I can imagine a Koine that is still pretty close to MSA! That's sort of what I meant.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lingua_Spanka

"a pan-Arab dialect (one can dream)"

We could call it "Nasserite" ;)

A great idea putting common phrases in. I was wondering when I was going to get to words I already know. If you look at Duo Japanese they get to words like sushi or aragato pretty fast as a way to teach written kana syllables and then kanji ideographs.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Origin5world5_

I always use MSA when speaking to people who studied at universities. I don't know why you would need koine if you can speak MSA. Also, there are some people who speak Fusha with their children-parents, even though they're few (i know some), so I wouldn't call it a completely literary language. With globalisation MSA is regaining interest, people are noticing that their dialects are of little use outside their own countries.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Edward264741

I think this video (and indeed channel) may be useful for people wanting to learn arabic - it addresses the question of whether to learn fusha(msa) or koine(dialect) (spoiler it suggests fusha in most cases) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzlBhhAtesQ


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yathzie

I speak a unique koine of English when I meet new people. But once I get comfortable I go back to standard English. A lot of foreigners are stuck in limbo. Detached from the homeland. So I try to make them comfortable by using a harsh koine.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

that sounds kind of interesting, but i don't understand what you mean?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

White as in white people? Or white noise? Or something else?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

i've been trying for ages, and i can;t find anything about "white Arabic", is there another name for it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoloAzizieh

What do you mean exactly by (white Arabic)? Please explain it so I can help you better


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mimi568792

It's interesting to know how Arabs from different countries talk to each other. thank you Salah.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StefanyMel325815

Do you have any suggestions on how to learn true Arabic? I'm just starting out on the language and living in New York while on in a doctors office a middle eastern woman let me know that what I had try to pronounce was different from what was on the my screen and that it was spelt different and the sound was to sharp. Should I try for Arabic children's books for a better foundation?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SalahElOweidy

Most anime's from 80's-00's are dubbed into standard Arabic. (Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, etc..). It's a really good source of spoken standard Arabic. If you watch football then that's also a good way to start since commentators like to speak in a dialect half between standard/colloquial. Just google something like شاهد ماتش ليفربول ضد تشيلسي الأن (if you like liverpool or chelsea) and you'll find something. Although it'd only be a limited vocab that you'd pick up. If that's too advanced then I guess just children books are a good way to start. Some of them have very detailed diacritics for pronunciation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

i've heard language teachers recommended against using children's books to lean, since they tend to have non standard language, like "once upon a time" in English i guess? but i don't know if this is applicable to Arabic?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoloAzizieh

You can search for many sources to learn Arabic, but please bear in mind that that source pronounce Arabic correctly -not relying on google translate to help them pronounce the words, because google pronounce Arabic words incorrectly- and try to find an Arabic language partner to help you. Wish you all the best with Arabic!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

There are a lot of different dialects (with different pronunciations)

and even more notably, there's no universal standard way to transliterate Arabic into Latin characters (e.g. ), which did she say was spelled wrong, the English transliteration or the Arabic itself?

The course uses a slightly odd choice of transliteration to Latin characters, with the 2 and the 3, it's commonly used in informal contexts, but it doesn't match standard/academic ways to write Arabic words in the Latin alphabet. The letter duolingo translates to the number 3 is represented by the greek letter gamma in more formal contexts, which most English speakers would find no more useful than the number three?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_chat_alphabet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_alphabet

[i've only just started the course, but this is what i've been able to research and deduce so far]


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geeksesi

hi, you said right. but also arab country does not have united pronunciation. i want learn iraq arabic instead standard arabic. but it's not like english . arabic is realy hard even for near lang like persian. :D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

memrise has a few courses on specific Arabic dialects.

they're not as comprehensive as courses on standard, but it's a start.

https://www.memrise.com/courses/english/iraqi-arabic/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

Sign up as a contributer, a couple of the existing contributers have done only ~2% so even if you just go in and fix the errors you have noticed that would be a huge help . https://incubator.duolingo.com/apply


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoloAzizieh

Thanks everyone for sharing your opinion. I was not talking about dialects. But the best way for a foreigner to start learning Arabic is to start with MSA. In general, one of the most important points that I was talking about is the pronunciation which is soooo important, For example: The name سامية It should be pronounced as SAMIYAH not Samiyatun (unless it is in the middle of the sentence and the word after it needs a special diacritics)

I know that Arabic at the beginning should be easy and understandable, but that does not mean that it is ok to add numbers (such as 3) to explain a strong letter ع A learner should practice the letters and words as it is -> is that happens in a language course with different letters (not latin) such as Russian, for example?

Also there are syllables which a learner should choose the correct one, most of the choosen syllables are not existed in the most of Arabic daily used words (What are لُكيم / ثُخّ / إِرف / داط ) !!! In my point of view, that’s totally wrong, if I want a beginner learner to learn how to pronounce Arabic and its letters I should start with small useful words not لُكيم !!

I am speaking about all of that because I really love people to learn my native language, but we have to be fair with it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Captain_Sensible

I am reading your comments but I fail to understand what is wrong about using the 2 and the 3. Maybe I didn't read you carefully enough, but the only objection I can find it that it is used by teenagers. I was surprised at first by the numbers but got used to it. And teenagers are greta... sorry, I meant great.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoloAzizieh

My main idea behind using the numbers with letter is not that it is using by teenagers, it is because it is not academic, numbers and letters way used when you write Arabic words in latin letters, but if you are studying Arabic and planning to complete the course or even to continue learning it by your own, you will not continue learning it written with latin letters! This is not academic, also you will never ever find an Arabic source written with the number-letter way. A person who really want and have curiosity to learn Arabic have to learn it correctly with the correct letters and pronunciation, with the correct vocabulary, there are some words which pronounced incorrectly, some words translated from english to Arabic as used in local Arabic not MSA (the academic one = Fusha), there are some words not used in Arabic not in Fusha nor in the local accent (to be specific in the “guess the correct word” section when you click on the speaker icon to hear the voice)

In addition that in Arabic (and especially for a beginner learner) the diacritics are extremely important to help you know the right way to pronounce a word, and it is not available for a lot of words! And it is extremely important because in Arabic we have words written with the same letters but different in the meaning so with diacritics you can differentiate them.

I don’t know if all of that is enough to make it a course which need an update before introducing it to the learners. And I really hope that there are no grammar mistakes too

•Sorry for the long talk.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

"you will never ever find an Arabic source written with the number-letter way." To me this seems kind of surprising. Though i guess it depends what you call a "source"? There's vast amounts of stuff on the internet in Hindi / Urdu in Latin script. Though possibly Hindi / Urdu is an unusual case? since the language is written in two different scripts, and Latin characters might be understood by both?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SalahElOweidy

I also don't think that's true, If you have a ❤❤❤❤❤❤ brick phone with no arabic text and you need to text someone then you will use Franco-Arabe, A lot of ads in the Levant and Egypt/North Africa use them. It's become part of daily life for many Arabs and as an educational tool I see it's benefits.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndriLindbergs

What is your native Arabic dialect? I understand the Duolingo Arabic course is Egyptian Arabic. Is that branch of Arabic very different from yours? Just curious.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoloAzizieh

My native dialect is levantine, and yes some words in the Arabic course are pronounced in egyptian dialect and some are in MSA, but in general, levantine speakers and egyptian speakers can 90% understand each other.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

that explains it then, i think the course started out as Egyptian Arabic, i think old versions of the ap show an Egyptian flag, and the Egyptian flag still shows on the fan website duome.eu i guess the course got changed to MSA, but only partially.

egyptian flag on duome: https://duome.eu/KirtRenee/en/ar


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/theFee

As an English/Arabic (Egyptian & MSA mix) bilingual who teaches about Arabic letter articulation points/characteristics among other things, I completely agree that the course is still a bit rough around the edges and needs some corrections/feedback from the native speakers out here to get it up to par. At this stage, while I would not discount the entire course as a fail (after all, it should be recognized and appreciated that a LOT of work went into it), I DO strongly caution newcomers to the language against using Duolingo as their main/sole resource on the subject.

For example, besides some of the various points on this discussion so far, the course represents the letter "ذ" as a "dh" sound which I find misleading given that this is a course designed for English speakers and this letter can already be represented as a "th" (a sound native English speakers are already familiar with) because it sounds EXACTLY like the th in the word "then". So why would the course use a completely new letter combination these native speakers are not familiar with? I do understand the goal was likely to differentiate between the aforementioned "ذ" like the th in "then" vs. "ث" like the th in "thank" vs. "ظ" which is the only extra th sound for which there is no English equivalent, unlike the other two (imagine saying the word "awe" but starting with the th from "then": "thawe". Now make it even heavier-sounding by raising the back of your tongue as much as you can while saying it, making a bowl shape with your tongue.). That said, surely, one of these letters could have simply been in all caps, or perhaps we could have borrowed from foreign latin-looking alphabets to get a different-looking "t" for each of these instead? My main gripe with using the "dh" instead of "th" is that there is another Arabic letter more deserving of being represented by a dh (heavy d sound) which is the ض which legitimately has no th sound in it. Every letter in the Arabic alphabet is 100% unique and distinguishable from other letters and I simply feel that this should come through in the way the course teaches the language and that it should be made as easy as possible for learners to grasp. This issue has little to do with dialects and everything to do with lesson planning.

That said, I agree with SOME of the issues mentioned here, but not all of them.

TL;DR It should not have graduated from beta just yet.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Edward264741

I'm a native english speaker with no previous arabic - I had no problem with the expected transliteration into th and dh - but I'm surprised that the coders didn't use the old english letter 'thorn' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorn_(letter) for th in 'thorn' and left th (rather than dh) for 'the'


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/theFee

I'm really glad to hear it was clear for you. Personally, I find transliteration generally damaging when it comes to Arabic in particular and am of the mind that it's better to get familiar with the native letters as they are, but that's a different discussion for a different thread.

Interesting. I've never heard of the "thorn" letter and wonder if maybe most others aren't familiar either? Could explain why they didn't use it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

Join as a contributer? That seems like the best way to fix it. I found the link (though you can get to it via the page where you add courses to study), just select arabic for english speakers from the drop down menus. incubator.duolingo.com/apply


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YPSILONZ

But I doubt that anybody from the Duolingo staff will see your post. Maybe if you posted again on the main forum, MAYBE it would stand a chance to get noticed.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoloAzizieh

That’s the problem! Maybe if people keep voting the post and make comments it will rise up, or if someone know any person from the duo staff can copy the link of this post to let them see it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KirtRenee

why don't you just sign up as a contributer? your profile says you are an Arabic native speaker, and your is flawless [i thought English was your native language], and you obviously care about the problems.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Edward264741

the current version of the arabic course seems to have no 'tips' section - I didn't really know any arabic script when I started - and I think I'm now at the point that I can read out words slowly - which I'm happy with at this stage, but tips should exist and include 'read right to left' (I remembered this) 'diacritics for vowels and double letters' (I got this quickly as I had a vague idea it was possible from having looked at tolkien's elvish languages) - 'words endings change to agree with gender' - and one thing that really threw me was where it had for example ma3am as a phonetic approximation in English - when there is clearly no such phoneme - if it had written ma'am or ma,am or something that would have been a closer approximation mild complaints aside (the course seems good for my zero level starter) I have noticed that what is spoken doesn't match with what is written extra 'tun' type sounds between words - or similar, but I presumed that was just different dialects - or maybe that Arabic doesn't write the little words down and just infers them? If I wrote 'I go shop' most English speakers would understand 'I am going to the shop' so you could leave out the 'am to the' and stillget the sentence. Is that what's going on there ?

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