A total of about 375.4 million people worldwide speak Arabic as their mother tongue, and over 110 million people speak it as a second language. Nonetheless, for beginners of the language, some of its 28 unique letters can be hard to pronounce at first. As a result, we thought we’d show you how four techniques can help you overcome any pronunciation difficulties you might run into and get you speaking Arabic the right way.

1. Hooked on Phonics Worked for Me!

You might remember learning the sounds of your ABCs in grade school using phonics – that is, you matched the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. Unfortunately, there are some sounds of letters in Arabic that have no equal in English. However, you can still use that same reliable technique you learned in school to learn the sounds of these Arabic letters. Simply write out the sounds in Latin letters. For example, you can write “huuuuuh” (the breathy sound you make when cleaning your glasses) for the Arabic letter ح (Haaʼ). This way it will become easier for you to pronounce it with sounds you’re familiar with.

2. Stop Look and Listen

Try a little people-watching and pay close to how native Arabic speakers use their lips, tongue, and voice box together when they speak Arabic. This is especially useful for ʻayn (ع), one of the more difficult sounds for foreigners to master. What’s more, you can watch videos or listen to recordings of native Arabic speakers to better understand their accents, intonations, and pronunciation patterns. Copying these patterns can be helpful in overcoming hard-to-pronounce Arabic letters and their sounds.

3. Map Them Out in Your Mouth

Speech pathologists and other professionals describe the sounds you make when you speak as glottal (Google “epiglottis” ) or uvular (that punching bag-shaped thing that hangs down at the back of your throat). However, chances are most of you reading this are likely not speech pathologists. Instead try to remember two things about where the Arabic comes from in your mouth: the location and the way you breathe when you make that sound. Knowing these can help you correctly position your mouth for each letter. For example, a lot of the hard-to-pronounce Arabic letters require you to constrict the deeper parts of your throat. Understanding where these words come from improves your pronunciation quite a bit. This will considerably improve your pronunciation of those challenging characters.

4. Use it or Lose it

There’s an old joke about a man who stops a native New Yorker on the city’s streets and asks him, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” to which the New Yorker replies, “Practice!” That same advice applies to how to get good at just about everything including Arabic pronunciation. Spend a little time every day practicing your Arabic pronunciation and you’ll see how those difficult Arabic sounds will seem easy in no time at all. Soon you’ll be pronouncing them like you were born speaking Arabic.

Try these four techniques to master the pronunciation of difficult Arabic letters and you’ll be fluent in no time at all. Keep at it, practice, practice, practice, and for some extra help, be sure to download the Kaleela Arabic language learning app which uses the latest in voice recognition technology to make sure you’re speaking (and learning) Arabic the right way. Get it now from kaleela.com and see for yourself how fun and easy learning Arabic can be.