We all know that learning other languages can be life-changing! It can help you to communicate with people you would have never met before and to learn about cultures and traditions, not to mention the positive effects on your brain.
Unfortunately, this is not usually a cheap process. Between the costs of lessons, books and other resources, it can sometimes cost more than students may be expecting.
Of course, this investment that you make in yourself can pay off in the future in many ways, from feeling more confident in yourself and your skills, to career opportunities that may never have presented themselves otherwise.
It follows then that when we pay such a high price, we want to achieve consistent and significant results, otherwise, why would we do it! So how long will it take to get those results?
Well, there is really no one true answer. Making progress in your Arabic studies- like any language- depends on a range of factors:
- You as a student: The more motivated, committed and interested you are, the faster you will learn.
- Your teacher: The quality and methodology of your teacher can make a huge difference.
- Consistency: This might be one of the most important factors. If you are consistent in both your lessons and outside work, you will learn more quickly.
Check out our quick guide to knowing how many private classes it might take to reach a good level in Arabic!
Your reasons for learning Arabic and how they affect your progress
A student's motivation is a key factor in determining how long they will need to study.
As we mentioned before, learning a language opens up a world of possibilities, and Arabic is no different. You can find benefits in the personal and business aspects of your life.
Let's look at some of the main reasons to start a private Arabic lesson:
Why people learn Arabic to help their careers
Standard Arabic (and its various dialects) is the fifth-most spoken language in the world. It's an official language in more than twenty countries in the Middle East and is also spoken by millions of immigrants around the world.
This means that speaking Arabic at a high level, along with a native level of English, opens up professional opportunities in a range of areas. Knowledge of Arabic is a great step up in the following roles:
- Translating and interpreting
- Journalism and foreign correspondence
- International Banking
- Diplomatic and other government services
- Teaching at various levels
- Immigration services
And these are just some of the possible amazing careers you could try if you speak Arabic well enough.
If you want to use your language skills in Australia, there's also the opportunity of working in the tourism sector. There has been rapid growth in the number of arrivals to Australia from the Gulf States, widening the employment possibilities for Arabic speakers.
Personal and social reasons for learning Arabic
Of course, job opportunities are not the only reason to learn a language. Arabic brings with it the knowledge of cultures and traditions from all over the Middle East. It's a language that has been used throughout history in some of the greatest philosophical, scientific and literary movements.
Many take the time to learn, speak and practice this wonderful language simply because it's a fascinating and eye-opening experience.
Also, as we mentioned before, there are many Arabic speakers who have immigrated to other countries. The children of these immigrants may decide to learn the language of their heritage as a way to get closer to their roots and family.
Finally, learning a language brings with it many proven cognitive benefits for your brain. The practice of skills like learning a new alphabet or memorising grammar rules or vocabulary like verbs and phrases helps our brain in so many ways.
You can develop better problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, as you're used to looking at the world and problems from different angles. Students will find that they can concentrate better on everyday tasks, and have greater memory storage.
This is just a small selection of the amazing reasons to learn the standard Arabic language.
How to learn Arabic, and how long will it actually take
Let's look at the first question. There's a large variety of ways for beginners to start learning modern Arabic:
- By doing courses at a private language school
- Private classes with a tutor
- Speaking to native speakers of Arabic
- Self-teaching with online videos, an app or other resources.
Each method listed above has its pros and cons and will affect how fast you are able to reach a high level of Arabic.
As for the second question, it's important to highlight here that learning a second language is not a race. Studying the alphabet, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation of Arabic will take time, as you need to build on your knowledge step by step.
It's also not something that will ever be finished. Even if you have been studying for a long time, there will always be new, surprising information to learn.
Remember that you probably don't know every verb or sentence structure in your native English!
As such, it's almost impossible to quantify the number of hours an individual student will need to reach a high level, as it depends on so many different factors.
For some students, a couple of years will be sufficient to reach a good level, but for others, it could take a longer time.
Here are some of the important factors that affect learning times:
- The age you start your classes
- Your motivation
- How you perform in your classes
- How regular and in-depth your classes are
- How much practice you put in outside of class
- The quality of your teacher
- The quality of your resources
- Your opportunities to practice the spoken language with native (or high level) Arabic speakers
Obviously, there's not a one size fits all option here.
How your cognitive abilities can affect the number of classes you may need
We all want to learn quickly and efficiently, but the reality is that some students are simply better suited to learning a language than others. This doesn't mean that we can't all do it, it just means we have to put in different amounts of effort.
If you are a total beginner, looking to learn things like the alphabet and basic phrases, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, you'll need to be doing at least two classes a week, with homework in between.
This will allow you to consistently build on what you've learned week after week, and your brain won't have as much time to forget things between classes.
For some, this beginner period might feel like it's taking a long time. After weeks of classes, you might feel like you can just barely read the letters and longer phrases, but putting in this hard work at the start allows students to go further in the long term.
Don't be discouraged if you notice that other students in your course are understanding things more easily. We can all get there if we put in the work!
The quality of each lesson will affect your pace in learning Arabic
Of course, you can only make progress if you find yourself in the best course or classes for you and your ambitions.
First and foremost is your teacher and the method they use to teach. Not every teacher looks at the learning process the same way, and it's important to look for a class where you feel supported and comfortable.
If you want a more communicative experience, you should look for a course or teacher that will offer opportunities for free conversation.
However, if you like to study grammar and vocabulary repetitively so that it sticks, you need a teacher who is good at explaining the complexities and likes to give lots of reading practice.
Ideally, your Arabic classes (and therefore the teacher) should include a little bit of everything.
We should highlight that your teacher does not necessarily need to be a native speaker to give a great lesson.
In fact, having been in your shoes before, someone who has learned the language well through years of study might be the perfect fit. This is especially true for beginner level students.
One of the benefits of a native speaker teacher is that will be able to teach you modern standard Arabic, but also provide fascinating information about their own local dialect.
Teaching experience is also a key factor in the quality of a teacher. The longer they have taught, the more they know about the language itself and will be able to give more in-depth information.
This is not to say that young teachers don't also do a great job. In fact, their enthusiasm for their job often means they go above and beyond for their students.
Your teacher will make a big difference to your learning, so choose your teacher carefully
Your motivation will be a key factor in knowing how long your course will be
As we discussed before, students have very different motivations for learning a language, and this will show in the work they do, both during and outside of their course.
For people that are simply learning to pass a written examination, or because they need it for their job, it might be harder to find the time and commitment needed to really improve.
Studying Arabic (and any language), should be joyful and fun. Remember that you're spending time and money investing in yourself and in something that you really love.
If classes become more of a hassle, or simply something to check off a long to-do list, then doing any reading outside of class is probably pretty unlikely.
This is a problem as outside work is just as important and class time. Revision of new grammar and vocabulary between classes is the way we consolidate our learning and so are able to build upon it.
That's why students who genuinely love the process of each lesson may make progress faster. By working a little bit on their skills every day, they're can help their brain to learn more efficiently.
If you're not consistently working on your Arabic, even if it's just a half-hour of homework, videos, books or an app every day, then you might find you don't progress as quickly as you'd like.
Your goals will also provide a timeline to know how long you'll be studying for. If you need to pass an exam before a certain deadline, then more intensive classes could be the right option for you.
All in all, it's not possible to say precisely how many lessons it will take to reach a good level in Arabic. Just know that with every word, verb and piece of grammar like sentence structure or a new article, you're getting a little closer.
Remember that with language learning the journey is more important than the destination!