You may be getting ready to take your first steps in learning Arabic—or, you may have been studying for a while but are seeking more structure in your studies. With about 30 varieties of Arabic to learn, it can be difficult to know where to look for guidance.
Though there are not many comprehensive courses available to Arabic learners, we’ve collected some great picks to support your studies. Even some of our lower-rated suggestions may provide inspiration and motivation.
Whether you’re learning for everyday communication, making new friends, or reading the Quran, you’ll likely find something enjoyable and educational on this list. So let’s get started!
Price: $14.95 OR $19.95/MONTH
Interactive audio lessons with speaking practice
If you are keen to get speaking from day one, Pimsleur’s audio courses may be just what you’re looking for. You won’t spend much time reading or writing in Arabic, but you will learn to have basic conversations relatively quickly.
The course uses backchaining to rapidly improve your pronunciation and fluidity. It also effectively builds on each of the previous lessons, so you won’t feel lost moving from the beginner to advanced levels.
Through interacting with dialogues and responding to prompts from the narrator, you will soon be speaking full sentences in Arabic. You can also top up your skills with some quizzes and flashcards, though these aren’t necessary to succeed in the course.
- Structured lessons
- Practical speaking practice
- Intuitive user interface
- May be a bit slow for some learners
- No reading or writing practice
- No real-world listening comprehension practice
Hundreds of audio lessons with flashcards and transcripts
If you want to learn Arabic and gain insight into Arab culture, look no further than ArabicPod101. With comprehensive grammar explanations, lesson notes, transcripts, and quizzes, you can enjoy many hours of learning in one place.
You won’t have to worry about repetitive topics with the numerous lesson paths to choose from. You also won’t get bored listening to the hosts, as their interactions with each other and their listeners are both friendly and personable.
Some lessons appear more like phrasebook dictionaries, but you can pick through dozens of lesson paths to see which one suits you best.
- Lots of content in multiple dialects
- Hosts have a nice dynamic
- There is less English as the lessons progress
- Great cultural context
- Not very structured
- The website is a bit confusing and has lots of advertisements
- Not much speaking or writing practice
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
Structured design with speaking and writing practice
Busuu’s Arabic course leaves a lot to be desired, but it can be both fun and educational if you already have a basic understanding of grammar and pronunciation. There are about 115 lessons that follow a logical progression and loosely adhere to the CEFR scale. Each lesson teaches practical language that you can use in your everyday life.
If you have no background in Arabic, you’ll likely find it more difficult to follow along. The course teaches you through quizzes and repetition, but it makes little room for you to understand grammar or pronunciation before advancing to the next topic. Luckily they provide both the Arabic script and romanized script, so you won’t have to learn to write before using the app.
One awesome feature that Busuu provides is the opportunity to practice your writing and speaking skills with fellow community members. Busuu invites free and paid users alike to interact with each other through correcting exercises in their native language.
Our rating for Busuu would be higher if it wasn’t for the Arabic and Chinese courses, but it’s still a fine resource to provide structure and keep you motivated.
- The design is engaging and the interface is easy to use
- Conversation lessons are especially useful
- The social feature is free
- Some exercises don’t include translations
- Grammar explanations aren’t the best
Price: $30/MONTH, $299.88/YEAR
Speaking and listening practice for intermediate learners
Glossika won’t teach you explicit grammar rules, pronunciation, or the Arabic script—but if you enjoy learning through repetition and speaking, you may enjoy its extensive phrase bank.
This resource uses spaced repetition to drill key phrases, then invites you to practice what you’ve learned through dictation and speaking exercises. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet learned the Arabic script, as you can read and type the romanized characters.
Though Glossika will familiarize you with the Arabic language through extensive repetition, this isn’t the best resource if you are looking for dynamic practice and direct instruction for grammar and pronunciation.
- Vocabulary covers a wide range of topics
- Uses spaced repetition
- Has audio recorded by native speakers
- Expensive for what it offers
- No grammar explanations
- Can get too repetitive
- Doesn’t break down pronunciation
Understand Arabic without memorization
Don’t worry about having to memorize extensive vocabulary lists or drill repetitive phrases.
With Language Transfer you’ll problem solve, deconstruct and build your own sentences, and identify patterns in the Arabic language. The goal is to understand Arabic—not memorize it—making you more confident to tackle more advanced material in your future studies.
This course is for beginners with little to no exposure to Arabic and is entirely audio based. You won’t need to take notes, but you will need focus to engage with Mihalis’s practice activities and prompts.
The best part? It’s 100% free.
- Has well-structured lessons
- Thoughtfully developed
- No native speakers
- Uses a lot of English
- The pace might be too slow for some learners
Price: $11.99/MONTH OR $55.99/YEAR
Who wouldn’t want to learn Arabic in the company of an adorable deer with glasses?
If you’ve tried Duolingo, you’ll be familiar with LingoDeer’s format. But, you may be pleasantly surprised to find something that Duolingo’s Arabic course has yet to develop: detailed grammar explanations. LingoDeer adds short readings to its gamified format so you can get more out of your studies.
It may be difficult to get through the first four lessons of unit one without prior knowledge of the Arabic alphabet, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be home free to learn basic conversational topics.
Keep in mind that the Arabic course is still in the beta phase. They currently have 30 units for total beginners, but you may want to hold off on getting a membership if you are looking for more than the absolute basics. Luckily, you can also test out several lessons without signing up to see if you like it.
- Detailed grammar explanations
- Native speaker audio
- Limited speaking practice
- Only has content for absolute beginners
- Need to look elsewhere to practice the Arabic script
Outdated but comprehensive courses for multiple dialects
The Foreign Services Institute (FSI) and Defense Language Institute (DLI) are probably the most comprehensive, free language learning resources in the world. Unfortunately, they are also very outdated.
With the FSI’s moderate focus on politics and the DLI’s attention to military terminology, you will probably need to learn and forget several sections of the course. But, if you are motivated and disciplined, you can follow in the steps of past diplomats who persevered through hundreds of hours of self-study course material. Your hard work will pay off when you have your first conversation with an Arabic speaker—though you may want to spend time listening to recent podcasts or videos to update your vocabulary beforehand.
Beginners can choose a dialect and start studying today. If you already speak Egyptian or Levantine Arabic, the FSI’s Comparative Arabic Course will help you transition into the other dialect.
- Teaches multiple dialects
- Courses are structured and comprehensive
- Can be dry and boring
- Outdated and sexist language
Learn the Arabic Alphabet
Arabic Quick! dedicates its text-based lessons to teaching you the Arabic script. It has an attractive, colorful interface that gives you clear structure for your learning and is probably the most comprehensive free guide you’ll find on the internet.
The lessons are dedicated to each letter of the alphabet, which are broken down by how they are written at the start, middle, and end of a word. You’ll find examples and explanations for different pronunciation rules, plus mnemonic devices to easily remember how each letter is written. Arabic Quick! also helps you compare differences between similar-looking letters so you are prepared to avoid mixing them up in the future.
This is a great place to start or continue your studies of the Arabic script. It can easily be used alongside other resources that teach you conversational Arabic.
- Detailed explanations of how to write each letter
- Color-coded examples
- Helps you remember each letter and the differences between them
- No quizzes or writing exercises
- Very little audio pronunciation
- Requires a lot of reading
A fun way to dip your toes into learning Arabic
If you’ve been too intimidated to start learning Arabic, you’re in luck. Though Duolingo’s Arabic course has less than 50 sections, it may be one of the more fun options to start learning the basics.
The lessons teach you through patterns and repetition, and you’ll probably have to follow along with a pen and pencil to get the most out of each lesson. But, the supportive owl and gamified format will ensure that you won’t get bored.
Once you’ve learned a bit of the script, you can progress through the learning tree to acquire new vocabulary and grammar structures.
Duolingo won’t teach you very practical language, and you’ll have to look elsewhere to learn the more complex aspects of the Arabic script. But, it will help you dip your toes in the language without getting discouraged.
- The gamified aspect is fun and potentially motivating
- The repetition builds basic skills
- Makes the Arabic script unintimidating for new learners
- Only teaches the basics of the Arabic script
- Impractical language
- Only teaches Modern Standard Arabic
Price: $7.99/month for one language, $17.99 for all languages
Learn both formal and colloquial Arabic
Though Mango Languages isn’t usually our first choice for resource recommendations, its Arabic courses are surprisingly high-quality for beginners. Not only do they teach Modern Standard Arabic, but they also teach three different dialects: Egyptian, Iraqi, and Levantine. This way you’ll be able to engage in both formal and informal communication.
With 5 separate units and hundreds of lessons, you’ll go from making introductions to talking about your feelings and career. You’ll probably be able to have simple conversations by your last lesson, but the lack of attention to grammar means that you’ll need to look elsewhere to have more complex discussions.
This resource also has a unique feature that compares your voice recording to the original speaker in real time. By playing the recordings simultaneously, you can make a more accurate assessment of your pronunciation.
- You can compare your voice in real time to the original audio recording
- Some libraries offer it for free in the US and Canada
- Effective drilling of new concepts
- Cultural explanations
- Material only covers the beginner level
- Lack of grammar explanations
Price: From $8 – $47/month, less for longer subscriptions
A massive lesson library and thorough explanations
It’s difficult to find comprehensible input for beginners that gets incrementally more difficult. Usually, podcasts and resources divide their content into three or four levels; Arabic Workshop, on the other hand, divides its content into 15 difficulty levels from beginner (A1) to intermediate (B1).
You can listen to short monologues or dialogues about practical, everyday topics with animated drawings. Or, you can read along with an interactive transcript. Though the lower levels take most of the content, the team behind this resource seems to be continually adding to the library.
Keep in mind that other than listening to the audio multiple times or doing self-study activities, Arabic Workshop doesn’t add anything to reinforce what you have learned. Also, the transcripts only have translations for individual words and no romanized script.
Check out some of the free sample videos before subscribing to a monthly membership.
- Manageable jumps in difficulty
- One of the few resources with comprehensible input for beginners
- Teaches practical vocabulary
- No full-sentence translations
- No activities to reinforce what you have learned
- Expensive for what it offers
For learners studying the Quran
If you are learning Arabic to communicate in your everyday life, you’ll definitely want to look to other resources. But, if you are interested in learning classical Arabic to read the Quran, then you can use Madinah Arabic as a free, comprehensive resource.
With some self-discipline you can learn a lot from the text-based lessons and quizzes. Start with the Arabic script or dive into almost a hundred beginner lessons. There are also vocabulary lists with animations showing how to write specific words.
The website design feels a bit clumsy, and it isn’t very pleasing to the eye. But, the lessons are free and can provide your studies with some structure.
- Very comprehensive
- Unattractive user interface
- Won’t teach you to speak Arabic
- Not very engaging
Price: $36/QUARTER; UP TO $179 FOR A LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION
Expensive and repetitive, but helpful for beginners
Though Rosetta Stone can get a bit repetitive, stick around if you’re a total beginner looking to develop a strong foundation of basic vocabulary and sentence structure.
Rosetta Stone has excellent audio quality recorded by native speakers, plus a logical progression from one lesson to the next. You’ll spend a lot of your time matching pictures and words, and no time building sentences or reading grammar explanations. This makes it a better option for individuals looking to learn grammar and vocabulary through immersion.
Recently, some extra features have been added to the resource’s curriculum. The Stories feature invites you to simultaneously read and listen to various texts, then record yourself reading aloud. And, instead of providing translations for keywords, you’ll see images to ensure you maintain an immersion environment.
Also, if you subscribe to Lifetime Plus, you can join other learners in 25-minute lessons with live tutors. These lessons focus on specific units, so you can pick one that directly relates to what you are learning.
Given the limited course options currently available for Arabic learners, Rosetta Stone is actually a fine choice to help you establish a foundation of basic Arabic.
- Helps you learn basic vocabulary
- Lessons get increasingly difficult
- Interesting stories for reading, listening, and speaking practice
- Livestream tutor if you subscribe to Lifetime Plus
- Repetitive format
- Nothing for advanced learners
Price: £59 – £250
Maybe suitable for some learners
We wouldn’t recommend Arabic Online to total beginners, but their Advanced Arabic and Grammar Explorer courses may be helpful to intermediate learners. With interactive activities and texts, you’ll practice sentence building, reading comprehension, and grammar.
Unfortunately, we found that the beginner levels repeated several of the same themes and weren’t very engaging. These levels also had a lot of bugs in their programming.
If you’d like to try something new and just want to keep motivated, you can give Arabic Online a go. Otherwise, you’ll probably want to check out the other resources we recommend.
- Reading comprehension activities at higher levels
- Specifically designed for Arabic learners
- Repeats a limited variety of themes
- Lots of bugs that slow down the website
- Expensive for what it offers
- Dashboard is confusing