How is it that some people who are learning Arabic for beginners can dive straight into Arabic conversations knowing only a little vocabulary while others who have studied the language extensively are still afraid to speak it? Beyond just feeling uncomfortable, research has shown that feeling anxious when it comes to speaking Arabic can cause you to have self doubt, which can, in turn, affect the rest of your Arabic language skills.
There is hope, however, for those who suffer from language anxiety when it comes to speaking Arabic. Follow these nine tips and tricks that will certainly help you improve your spoken Arabic, and you’ll have the confidence you need to speak the language like a native speaker.
Learning to speak Arabic is fun, isn’t it? Well, that is until you have to actually speak it. It all sounds good in your head, but when you actually speak it, it doesn’t quite come out the same way. So how can you get out of your mouth the same way it sounds inside your mind? With a little practice and a little fun.
If your idea of a little fun is reading, try this little trick. Pick out one of your favorite books in English, say The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and translate it into Arabic using Google Translate. Copy and paste that result in Google search followed by the letters “PDF”. (In our example for The Great Gatsby, it looks like this: “غاتسبي العظيم PDF”.) Hit enter or click on the “Search” button and there you are – a whole page full of links to click on that will present the book in Arabic.
Next, take your time and read it out loud. This will help you not only learn to read Arabic better, but it will also help you speak Arabic better as you listen to your own mistakes and better pronounce certain words.
If reading is really not your thing, or you simply don’t have time to read, there are a plethora of podcasts and audiobooks to be found on the internet. Like reading in tip one, this also comes with the extra benefit of not only improving your Arabic speaking skills, but also improving your Arabic listening skills as you’ll get used to hearing the Arabic language. An added bonus is that you also might learn something as you listen to useful information on a variety of topics like technology, self-help, politics, music or listen to some of the world’s best classical literature in Arabic. Much of the material is presented by native residents of Arabic speaking countries, so listening to them and repeating after them will bring you closer to the Arabic accent you’ve always wanted.
Voice technology and speech recognition software has come a long way in recent years. Just look at your smartphone as an example where you can download Arabic language apps like the Kaleela Arabic language app. Its goal is to both teach and encourage you to learn Arabic language skills through fun and adaptive lessons including learning to speak Arabic using the latest voice recognition technology. Simply speak into the phone when the app prompts you to, and the next thing you know is you’re learning to speak Arabic flawlessly.
It’s easy for people to tell you to “just practice” when it comes to speaking Arabic. However, not everybody has the means to just get up and go to an Arabic speaking country, nor does everyone have Arab speakers living next door or an Arab restaurant in their neighborhood. So, what do you do in this situation? Talk to yourself?
Well, actually, yes.
Okay, sure, it may seem a little weird but talking to yourself in Arabic, but what are you going to do when you have nobody else to practice with? American comedian and actor Bill Murray once tweeted, “Of course I talk to myself. Sometimes I need expert advice.” Doesn’t it make since that, when no else is around that speaks Arabic, you are the expert at that moment because you know more than anyone else does about it. So, don’t take yourself too seriously and have a little fun with your speaking practice. If you make mistakes, correct them. (Nobody will probably notice anyway.) And if you find somebody staring at you like you’re crazy, don’t worry. Just tell them you’re seeking “expert advice”.
Another fun way to master the Arab accent is by trying tongue twisters to improve your Arabic pronunciation. Sound silly? Actually, because tongue twisters are mainly phrases in which the same group of sounds are repeated making it difficult to pronounce the words when you try to say them quickly or many times in a row. Thus, mastering the unfamiliar sounds in an Arabic tongue twister can help improve your accent and give you the boost in confidence you need to have a conversation with someone in Arabic.
Start by finding common tongue twisters in Arabic and practice saying them clearly. Here are a few to get your started:
خيط حرير على حيط خليل – khet 7arer 3la het khalil – Silk string on Khalil’s wall
أسعد سعيد صابر صعد سور سعد صايل – as3ad sa3ed saber sa3d soor s3d sayel – Asaad Saied Saber climbed Saad Sayel’s fence
المشمش دة مش من مشمشكم / مكان المشمش دة مش من مشمشنا – al mesh’mesh dah mish mien meshmeshkum / makaan al mesh’mesh dah mish mien meshmeshnah – These apricots are not our apricots. The place of these apricots is not the place of our apricots
If you’re not familiar with their pronunciation, ask a native speaker to say the words so that you know the exact way to pronounce each word. Once you have gotten the Arabic pronunciation part down pat, you can start saying the tongue twisters more rapidly.
As we talked about before, you’re not always going to find other Arabic speakers to practice with, so sometimes you’re going to have to be both learner and teacher. Remember reading out loud in Arabic and practicing tongue twisters? The next time you practice using those tips, record yourself speaking in Arabic, then play it back, listening and learning from your mistakes. Do it as many times as it takes until you’re comfortable that it is close to what you think you should sound like. After you’ve mastered the reading passage or tongue twister, move on to another one. Soon you’ll find yourself getting faster and better in speaking Arabic and want to conquer more difficult passages.
The best thing about movies is that they can be both fun and educational. After exploring the previous tips you probably already know how you can use movies to your own advantage. From vocabulary to accents and intonation, movies can very helpful in improving your Arabic accent. Again, a quick search online and you’ll find many sites offering streaming videos of Arabic films. Like the last tip, you can even record yourself repeating some of the dialogue. Because most Arabic films are produced in Egypt, you’ll also learn Egyptian Arabic as an added bonus. How cool is that?
This technique can really boost your Arabic vocabulary! Learning common Arabic sayings and expressions can spice up your conversations and make you sound way more native. For example, if you’re invited to an Arab’s house, upon you’re arrival, you may be greeted with “bayti baytek”, a common Arabic expression meaning “My house is your house.”
Study the most exhaustive lists on common Arabic idioms, sayings, expressions and proverbs that you can find and explore how you can include them in your everyday conversations. Your days only trying to learn basic Arabic words will be over before you know it!
Even if you don’t have friends that are interested in practicing spoken Arabic in your neighborhood, you can go online and start a group on one of the many social media websites available these days. The group can talk about any subject they agree upon and according to the group’s overall level of Arabic comprehension. For example, you can talk about Arab food, share recipes, or suggest local Arab restaurants where you can organize a meet-up and practice even more.
One more thing before we wrap up this article: if you have a problem with your Arab accent, try choosing a more vocal learning technique like reading out loud or tongue twisters. If your problem is trying to find the right words to say, then you should definitely expand your vocabulary and get used to the language you want to learn by reading a lot and listening to as much audio (including watching Arab films) as you can in Arabic. In the meantime, try these tips and get yourself fluent.
If you liked reading these hacks on how you can become a better Arabic speaker, head over to our website for more tips and tricks on how you can learn Arabic quicker and easier. While you’re there don’t forget to check out the Kaleela Arabic language app. It’s the best way to learn Arabic at home or on the go. Download it today to your iOS or Android mobile device and start learning Modern Standard Arabic or go a little deeper into the Arabic dialects – all at the touch of a finger.
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