It’s completely normal for beginners to struggle with Arabic words. Actually, it’s completely normal for advanced speakers to struggle with Arabic words.
Here are 3 easy steps that can help you get over that awkward phase of Arabic learning where you feel like you’re stumbling over every other word.
You probably knew this advice was coming. Your tongue is a muscle. Like any muscle in your body, it can get used to doing things that it’s never done before. The trick is, you have to put in the work. To improve your Arabic pronunciation, you have to work out your Arabic speaking muscles.
Like all workouts, it will seem pretty difficult and awkward at first. If you do it daily, it will get easier and easier over time. So go find some hard words, and say them with your kids. Then do it again tomorrow.
Focus on single letter pronunciation.
In our Arabic course for moms, we go over one letter per lesson. This might seem like a ridiculously slow pace, but the reality is, it will take quite a bit of time for your tongue to get used to new letters. (We also do this because it can take your hands some time to get used to writing new letters.)
If you find that you stumble over a lot of words, focus on learning each letter, saying it properly, and being able to say it with ease. You’ll notice that babies actually don’t start speaking with all of the letters. “Oo” “ee” and “ah” are often the first sounds your child will make. That’s because these sounds are easy for him. He’s not going to jump right into saying “platypus.” Over time, he’ll add more and more sounds until he can say every letter in English, inshaa Allaah.
We often think as adult learners that we should just jump right into our studies. But the easiest and most sustainable way to learn is to learn like a child. Start with easy letters, perfect them, and then move on to harder letters. If your native language is English, you can skip letters like ب and ث since they are pretty much the same in English.
Start with practicing letters like “ت” which are ever so slightly different in Arabic than in English. Take a day or two and go over the letter until it’s perfect and easy to say. Then move your way up through the more difficult letters like ط and ص.
This is often easier said than done. One of the main reasons that we think kids are better at learning is that we don’t realize how many mistakes our kids make on a daily basis. If we do notice the mistakes, we are much more forgiving of our children than we are of ourselves. When a child tries to speak and makes mistakes, we encourage her and she will learn that mistakes are to be expected.
At some point, we have learned that mistakes are something to be feared and punished. If you’re ever going to speak Arabic comfortably, you’ll have to first speak Arabic wrong. I know that sounds pretty depressing, but it’s really not. Instead of seeing your mistakes as a problem, shift your mindset and see them as something that’s helping you on the path to becoming the best Arabic speaker that you can be.
The easiest and most sustainable way to learn is to learn like a child.
Be sure to let me know your tips for pronouncing words correctly below.