Monday, June 18, 2018

How to Choose Which Dialect of Arabic to Learn

Which Dialect of Arabic to Learn

I have recently started learning Arabic and have quickly found out there are several types. Who would have thought that when I picked a language, there would be sub-languages to choose from? In Arabic there are several different dialects that are spoken, as it is a diglossic language. Below are the more popular forms of Arabic.
  • Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) - You may also see it written as Fusha, Fus7a, or فصحى
  • Egyptian Arabic - A dialect of Egypt
  • Levantine Arabic - A dialect of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan
  • Maghrebi Arabic - A dialect of Morocco, Tunis, Algeria, and Libya 
  • Sudanese Arabic- A dialect of Sudan
  • Arabian Arabic- A dialect of Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, and other Gulf countries. 
Different Dialects of Arabic

I will try to not provide an opinion on which is the best form of Arabic to learn, as this can be an opinionated and heated topic. I will say, that each dialect of Arabic has its' own benefit and purpose. It is important to think about why you want to learn the language, and pick the dialect while remembering your primary purpose.

If you want to learn how to read, write, and study the Qur'an, you will want to start with MSA. This is the classical form of Arabic, what is commonly taught in schools. If you sign up for Arabic class in college, for example, it will most likely be MSA.

However, if your desire to speak and have conversations with other Arabic speakers, you will not want to learn MSA, and will want to pick a dialect.

Reading Arabic

The dialects are derived from MSA, which is why some will argue you should start learning MSA before a dialect. However, if you go to an Arabic speaking country and use MSA, you could possibly be not understood. The difference from MSA and dialects can be that drastic.

Therefore, if your primary purpose is to speak and hold conversations with others, you will benefit from skipping MSA and picking a dialect. 

This is where I will slowly step away and definitely will not express an opinion on which dialect to learn. I believe it will depend on the learner; however, I will provide why I choose Levantine Arabic.

The people I knew who spoke Arabic spoke were from Jordan and Palestine, making it easy for me to immerse myself in Levantine Arabic. 


Also when I thought about traveling, the countries that peaked my interest were Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon. So it quickly became clear that Levantine Arabic would be my dialect of choice.

However, I will admit there are cons to picking Levantine Arabic. Until very recently, media and entertainment was done in Egyptian Arabic. When I learn a language, I get excited about watching soap operas and other shows. Honestly, there aren't as many beginner options in Levantine Arabic as there is in Egyptian. 

There are definitely several things to consider when picking which is best for you; however, try to keep in mind the reason you want to learn Arabic. If you think about this, the choice should be pretty clear! 

Have fun on your journey of learning, and click below to start learning Levantine Arabic yourself!

Arabic: Chapter 1: Lesson 1-3

How to Choose Which Dialect of Arabic to Learn


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