Which Arabic course to choose?

Know which Arabic course to choose

Many students have questions about which Arabic course to choose when they start their studies. The first big decision they will have to make is if they should study Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or start with colloquial Arabic instead.

To shed some light on the matter, let’s summarize the main differences between the two options:

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) vs. Colloquial Arabic: What to study?

Modern Standard Arabic

It is also known as al-fusha. This language is widely used in the Arab world because of its multiple applications in different fields: for example, in the media, in education, in diplomacy and it can also be used in formal situations. It can be an interesting way to expand your resume and therefore your career possibilities.

However, one must bear in mind that it is not always the best option when one wants to have a colloquial conversation in Arab countries. The local and regional dialects may be the most appropriate in this case.

These are the 2 main advantages of choosing Modern Standard Arabic:

  • A good basis for learning: in case we want to learn some dialect in the future, starting with Modern Standard Arabic is a good option. The student will have a solid base from which to start in this language.
  • Understanding: Another advantage of learning this type of Arabic is that we will make ourselves understood in any country, unlike what will happen if we limit ourselves to a specific dialect. In any Arab country to which we decide to travel we will be able to be understood.

Colloquial Arabic

This is the Arabic language with the regional variations we find in each country, such as in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco, or in specific areas of each country.

Egyptian Arabic is perhaps the best known in the world due to the influence of film and television. It is divided into two varieties, that of Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt, also called “Saidi“.

Jordanian Arabic is influenced by other languages such as English, French and Turkish. Although it is well understood in almost all the country, it presents great variations in some regions that can be significant: The Urban, the Rural and the Bedouin.

In Morocco we find a peculiar dialect also known as Darija (dāriŷa). An interesting feature of Moroccan Colloquial Arabic is that it is taught using both Arabic and Latin characters, as the student prefers.

Therefore, the words we will learn in colloquial Arabic derive directly from Modern Standard Arabic, with a partial influence by other languages such as English, Spanish, French, and Berber, among others.

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Which of the two courses should I choose?

You already know the characteristics of the 2 types of courses: in the case of  beginners, even if it is the first time that we dare tackle  this language, the best recommendation is to opt for  Modern Standard Arabic, since the learning curve will be easier to attain.  In addition, remember it has the advantage that with this language we will be able to make ourselves understood in any country where Arabic is spoken.

The choice of colloquial Arabic is interesting in case we have already studied the language and have a more solid base of knowledge. Also if we have to travel to some of the countries where it is spoken for work or studies.

With all this information, it should be easy for you to make a decision about which modality you are most interested in studying.