Practical steps towards learning Arabic
Alhamdulillah with all the teaching aids and easy access to information that we have, learning Arabic does not necessarily mean travelling on arduous journeys to distant lands as it once used to. With discipline and commitment, the student can study much in his own time.
Here are some tips to help you along they way:
1. Make Du’a (supplication): As with everything we work towards, we should ask Allah to help us and make learning easy for us. We should ask Allah to purify our intentions so that we truly learn Arabic for the better understanding of the Qur’an and deen.
2. Discipline yourself! Put a set amount of time aside every day or twice a week for your Arabic studies and stick to it. Remember a little study regularly is better than hours of study once a month.
3. Know your basics well: Going step by step is the best way to master any language, concentrating on improving your basic reading and writing is the first step in learning Arabic, even if it is repetitive. Then you can build on that firm foundation.
4. Invest in a good dictionary and Arabic books: A good dictionary is the Hans Wehr or Al-Mawrid dictionary, available in most Muslim bookshops and on the Internet too! Arabic words are usually arranged under their three letter roots. Get used to looking up words often and compile your own personal vocabulary dictionary. Some good three-book sets you can start working through are the three Madinah university books or the Kitaab-ul Asaasi books.
5. Enrol into a summer course: There are a few around every summer and they are a great way to kick-start your learning. They can be quite intensive so remember to revise and keep up your study afterwards.
6. Study Arabic as part of your full-time degree: If you are going to study a degree, why not study a degree in Arabic or one with Arabic as part of it?
7. Study under an Arab friend or tutor: The importance of a good teacher cannot be stressed enough. Although there is a lot of self-study involved, a friend who knows Arabic or an Arab brother or sister who you could go to regularly for guidance would be very valuable. You could even start going through your Arabic books with them.
8. Organise a class locally: There must be like-minded Muslims in your area who would like to study Arabic too. Maybe you could get together and pay for a teacher to teach you Arabic together at the local Masjid or in one of your homes. Studying with friends is a good way to stay motivated.
9. Study abroad in an Arab country: There are various good courses running in countries such as Egypt which really speed up your learning and can provide you with a nice experience. People have found that a few months in an Arab country can be more beneficial than a year or more of studying at home. Make sure you keep up your studying when you get back though!
10. Expose yourself to as much Arabic as you can: You can listen to Arabic lecture tapes, visit Muslim countries, read some Arabic everyday, and maybe get an Arab newspaper when you become more proficient.
11. Speak Arabic whenever you can: One of the biggest obstacles to speaking Arabic is being shy about making mistakes in speech and so not speaking at all. You must overcome this shyness and use whatever you know whenever you can. This is how you will eventually improve insha’Allah. Maybe you could meet some Arab brothers or sisters who only speak Arabic. This way you’ll be forced to speak what you know and they’ll be pleased that you’re making the effort.
12. Relate your knowledge back to the Qur’an and other worships: Don’t forget that your aim is to understand what you recite of the Qur’an especially in your salaah and other adhkaar. Try to recognise Arabic words as you come across them in the Qur’an and apply your knowledge in understanding the Qur’an. Ponder over and pay attention to the words in your salaah.
May Allah help us all to master the language of the Qur’an and to aid its spread throughout the Ummah.