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Classical Arabic, MSA, Fusha, Or Arabic Dialects? What Arabic Should You Learn?!

If you are willing to learn Arabic, you will hear these 3 terms a lot, classical Arabic, modern Arabic, and dialects, what is the difference? Check Them!

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Arabic is the fifth-most-spoken language in the world with 270 million people in 60 countries speaking Arabic as their mother tongue. It is a member of the Semitic family languages including Hebrew and Aramaic. It originated in the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula in the 1st century and spread with Islam as Quran should be read in Arabic.

Choose what to learn From The Types of Arabic

If you are willing to learn Arabic, you will hear these 3 terms a lot, classical Arabic, modern Arabic, and dialects, what is the difference?

Depending on your personal goal of learning Arabic, you will determine the type you want to learn. If your goal is to increase your Islamic knowledge and boost your belief as a Muslim, Classical Arabic will be the choice. It will give you the ability to read and understand the Quran, Al-Hadith, and other religious books written explaining them.

If your goal is to read modern Arabic literature, read the news, or work in an Arabic country, typically choose MSA.

Those who seek to expand their business, migrate or study in an Arabic country, then they have to learn this country’s dialect to be able to interact with people.

1. Classical Arabic – Your Way To Islamic Learning

The language of the Quran and Al-Hadith. The standardized literary form of Arabic forms the base syntactical and grammatical norms. It was the written and spoken language of old Arabs. The word “Arab” means “nomad”, this makes sense because Arabic originated from nomadic tribes, each of them had its dialect and they merged to form Classical Arabic.

Classical Arabic was chosen by Allah to reveal his final book, the Quran. That’s why some call this type the Quranic Arabic, but we should note that Quran is a unique and divine form of classical Arabic. Classical is no longer spoken.

> Learning Classical Arabic

The first thing you need to unlock here is the alphabet and grammar. There are many doors to knock out.

Quran House online, made unique and outstanding courses to start with you from scratch to learn Quran, Al-Hadith, and Classical Arabic. You could choose your private tutor to maximize your benefit. Choose your male or female tutor and book a trial session here

If you prefer to do it with hard way and go self-learning. You could start with the Al Qaidah El Nooraniyah book and head to YouTube to get the book lessons. Once you’re able to read, move to the second level, basic grammar. This is a vital role in the learning process, if skipped, no hope to understand Classical Arabic because word positions change a lot, more than you think. 

A famous religious TV channel called Al Bayyinah presents online courses specific to grammar. The next level is to learn Quranic vocabulary, Madinah Arabic – Book 1 -Vocab will be a good choice. 

If classical is your goal, then start with classical. MSA has a dumbed-down version of grammar so you’ll be way ahead of the game. Learning dialects or MSA is a joke after Classical Arabic.

Classical Arabic is really hard and needs strong will and long discipline. If you are busy or having some problems with your will. Then you should seek an online private tutor to save time and effort. Choose your tutor on Quran House online and start your trial session.

Check: Best Classical Arabic Course For Beginners – Quran House

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2. What Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) – Fusha

Similar to classical, but easier and more adapted to suit the modern world where no tribes. This is the version of Arabic taught widely in schools. Unlike classical, MSA always changes and has new words because of development and continuous interactions with non-native Arabic speakers through trade, war, migration, and tourism. MSA is the written language of press, news broadcasts, newspapers, textbooks, and academic research and study.

Classical Arabic is more common in literature and writing while MSA is more commonly spoken. Non-natives called MSA [fusha, فُصْحَى] meaning it is not colloquial, but natives call both classical and MSA (Fusha) because they don’t speak them in daily life, they speak with dialects.

 Check: Best MSA And Fusha Arabic Online Course With Natives

> Learnung MSA And Fusha

To learn Modern Standard Arabic online, start by studying formal grammar and the alphabet. There are a lot of online platforms as Quran House online to start you from scratch. Memrise and Duolingo also have good courses that are worth checking out. There are also several YouTube channels like Learn Arabic with Maha. Spend some time surfing them to get the most convenient for you and your schedule.

Your priority here should be balancing speaking, reading, and writing. An excellent way to enjoy learning this is by watching entertaining Arabic cartoons which we recommend a lot. At the advanced level, we recommend reading side-by-side translated books to boost your vocab and strengthen your grammar

Read Our Guide: Modern Standard Arabic – 2022 Best Guide

3. Arabic Dialects (colloquial)

Everyday conversation language, varies greatly from country to country, region to region, and even within the same country. The most common dialects are Egyptian dialect (Egypt), Levantine dialect (Lebanon, Palestine) Maghrebi dialect (Morocco, Algeria), and Khaleeji dialect (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates). 

The closer the geographical location, the most likely that people will understand each other. You could find Khaleeji doesn’t understand Maghrabi, but the most common dialect is Egyptian, it is almost understood by all Arabs thanks to the popularity of Egyptian movies and songs. It is known that for actors and singers to increase their audience and success, they sing in Egyptian dialect or act in Egyptian movies.

> Learning Arabic Dialects

Learning an Arabic dialect online is the easiest type, watching movies or listening to songs and news in that dialect. You can also learn the Egyptian and Levantine dialects from the Alkitaab book series. Don’t focus too much on reading and writing, speaking is your priority here. 

Arabic language schools recommend that a student learns MSA first and then the dialect to communicate with all Arabic speakers, Arabs may not understand a certain dialect, but all of them could speak and understand MSA.

Check: Best Arabic Dialects Online Course With Natives

How Much Does it Take To Learn Arabic?

No universal number for how long it takes to learn Arabic, but we can give you a rough estimate. The US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) estimated the duration it takes to learn Arabic for native English speakers as about 2200 hours or 88 weeks to get fluent. On the contrary, learning French would take just 600 hours. It is a long period compared with other languages due to the difficulty of Arabic.

Why Is Arabic Hard To Learn?

Arabic is considered to be the second most difficult language to learn after Mandarin, the Chinese language. This is due to a lot of characteristics and origin of Arabic. 

  • It is read and written from right to left; this may be a challenge to most foreign speakers.
  • Using an Arabic dictionary will take you some time, it is different than Latin dictionaries. Words are organized in three-letter roots. To search a word, you need to remove the additive letters in the word to reach its root. This will take some practice but sooner will be easy and enjoyable.
  • It has diacritics (called “ḩarakāt” in Arabic), 6 basic and 3 supportive, that when using or pronouncing wrongly, may change the meaning, even to the opposite.
  • the Same letter has different writing shapes, depending on the letter position in the words, some have 4 cases, others 3, and 2.
  • Pronunciation requires some guttural exercise; The Alphabet sounds familiar except for some letters such as (ح خ ق ع غ). Most languages don’t have these letter sounds.

Arabic is hard, but don’t be disappointed, millions of non-natives have already learned it. Knowing how difficult it is will help you to optimize your study plan and choose the best decision. Remember, the right information saves time and effort. 

Private tutors also can shorten the way by standing on your weaknesses to improve them. Choose your tutor on Quran House online and start your trial session.

How To Learn Arabic Faster?

There are many ways that will help you learn Arabic if you are a beginner:

  • Immerse yourself in the Arabic community and events.
  • Find a conversation partner or a conversation club, and try the HelloTalk app.
  • Keep a journal in Arabic and read side-by-side translated works, you can’t imagine how this could make wonders.
  • Change your language settings.
  • Have fun in Arabic. 

Read our article How To Learn Arabic For Beginners In 2022? | A 7-Steps Guide 

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