What is Arabic?

If you don’t know the answer then you must read below!

What is MSA?

If you don’t know the answer then you must read below!

What is spoken Arabic or Dialects?

If you don’t know the answer then you must read below!

What is your learning goal?

If you don’t know the answer then you must read below!


Arabic has two branches

  • Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)
  • Dialects


MSA is formal, written Arabic, used in the media, literature and Quran studies. Understood across the Arabic speaking world but NOT spoken in daily life. You will see and hear MSA when you watch Al-Jazeera or read a newspaper. Children learn MSA at school after learning their dialect at home.


There are three main Arabic dialects (Egyptian, Levantine, Gulf). The dialects are used in daily life. Arabs use their dialect to communicate with each other at home, work and school.

What is your goal?

It’s important to think about your goals for learning Arabic.

  • Do you want to be able to understand the news?
  • Do you want to read the Quran?
  • Do you want to master speaking?

What are the problems for students learning Arabic?

Most students don’t know the difference between MSA and Spoken Arabic

  1.  They study MSA and they don’t know that they can study Spoken Arabic
  2.  Many teachers don’t know how to teach Spoken Arabic so they only offer MSA
  3. There are many books about MSA but very few about Spoken Arabic
  4. Most students think that in order to learn Spoken Arabic they need to learn MSA
  5. Most students and teachers think that in order to learn Spoken Arabic they should go the country and pick it up there
  6. Students think Arabic is hard to learn
  7. Some students think that the writing is so hard to learn
  8. Students sound like Shakespeare when they speak MSA!
  9. Most teachers prefer to teach MSA
  10. Many teachers don’t have experience teaching Spoken Arabic
  11. Many students think that Spoken Arabic is not a proper language to learn
  12. Many students think that it’s impossible to learn Spoken Arabic in London because there are not enough book that you can use to learn from.
  13. Many students don’t identify their main reason for learning Arabic
  14. Arabs will laugh at you if try to speak MSA with them
  15. Most teachers encourage students to study just MSA.

What are the biggest frustrations for students learning Arabic?

  1. When you speak MSA you will sound like Shakespeare!
  2. The native speaker will understand you but you will not understand him
  3. You will be the only person in the country who is speaking like that
  4. Unfortunately people will laugh at you when you speak MSA
  5. Most school and universities only teach MSA
  6. There is no full course which guarantees you will master Spoken Arabic
  7. Students think that there so many dialects – they don’t know there just 3 main dialects
  8. Lots of students give up after studying MSA for one year because they think it is hard to learn and there is no point trying to speak.
  9. Your teacher tells you to go to a Arab country and pick up the dialect from the street – this is a huge mistake because you will never become fluent in spoken Arabic if you don’t know the grammar and how to build correct Spoken Arabic sentences. The people in the street won’t be able to teach you!
  10. Many students and most teachers think that there is no grammar for Spoken Arabic – this is not true!s