People have many reasons for learning Arabic. For example, typical factors include work, for travel, for becoming a Muslim, because of marriage or friendship with an Arab, or simply as a hobby. Arabic is spoken by more than 280 million people as a first language, so being educated in the ancient language can be very beneficial indeed for young Muslims.

So, you’ve decided that you are going to make the grand total of speakers 280 million and one? Well, this article offers advice for people who are about to open the book on learning the Qur’an’s official language.

Firstly, it would be ideal to learn a little Arabic at home before committing yourself to more serious classes and we would advise learning standard/classical Arabic…and move onto a colloquial dialect afterwards. Modern Standard Arabic is what is used in books, newspapers, radio and television news programmes, and all media etc.

Standard Arabic does sound a bit posh and formal to Arab ears, but at least you can be sure of being understood by educated Arabs anywhere in the Middle East. However, you may find it difficult at first to understand local dialects, which can then be easily picked up with the Standard Arabic as a solid foundation!

Studying the absolute basics at home (before attending classes) is recommended for students of Arabic of any age! There are plenty of online self-tuition courses – such as ‘Learn Arabic Online’ – and basic Arabic books available that will see you through the beginner stage. Linguaphones and mp3 audio books can be very effective, as the student is to follow a written text while listening to a recording of it, and then to repeat each sentence. Young children can also be given a simple Arabic book or an Arabic Alphabet Wooden Puzzle to learn the basics.

Those of you who are learning Arabic solely due to an interest in Islam, then standard Arabic is – as previously stated – obviously preferable to a colloquial dialect. But standard Arabic is unlikely to meet all your needs to fully understand the Qur’an, so a specific course in Qur’anic Arabic would be recommended.