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I've used Rosetta Stone to learn basic Spanish. I think it is an extremely effective teaching method for me, it worked great.

Now I wish to learn Levantine Arabic (or Gulf Arabic). I can't find any resources for it.

Would someone give a product recommendation that is similar to the interactive style of Rosetta Stone? (For those unaware, it teaches you by repeatedly showing you images along with a phrase and you must pick the correct one). Or in absence of that, advice on how to learn the language without these tools?

  • According to Wikipedia, Levantine Arabic (spoken in countries at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean) is not the same as Gulf Arabic, which is spoken in countries near the Persian Gulf. Could you please clarify which variant(s) of Arabic you have in mind? – AModHasNoName Sep 16 '17 at 9:27
  • Yes they are different. I am the most interested in levantine but if there are no sufficient recourse then I am open to gulf – James Wierzba Sep 16 '17 at 9:30
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Arabic is somewhat different from Spanish. Arabic has diglossia. Everyone writes in a standardized way - Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). But they speak differently. Differences between Levantine dialect and MSA include:

  • Difference in vocabulary

  • Levantine conjugates verbs against 8 pronouns

  • MSA conjugates verbs against 14 pronouns. Not only the number of pronouns is different, but the endings are different for the same pronouns

Dialectal Arabic exists mostly in oral form:

  • Levantine dialect written in Arabic script is called ammiya. But examples are few, far apart, with some variation in spelling.

  • Sometimes Levantine is written with English alphabet and numbers, called chat notation. Once again written examples vary from one another.

  • Neither ammiya, nor chat have standardized spelling.

In conclusion, to learn Arabic you need to learn 2 languages: MSA and one of the dialects. You might be able to find interactive tools for MSA. You are limited to audio-only courses for learning spoken dialects.

I believe Rosetta Stone offers MSA courses. Additionally, Pimsleur offers courses in MSA, Eastern (Levantine), and Egyptian Arabic.

  • So do you suggest learning MSA first? From what I was seeing, much of the basic vocabulary (nouns) between the two languages are completely different with different words. Basically what I'm looking for is the best course of action to take to learn levantine arabic – James Wierzba Sep 16 '17 at 1:52
  • I would suggest to start with the one that you have the tools for, or the tools that you like. I started with Levantine myself. Also there is anecdotal evidence that you may need to know both if you travel to any of the Arab countries. For example, a shop keeper would speak to you in a dialect, but count money in MSA, because money is the "official thing." – Vitaly Sep 16 '17 at 3:12
  • I had a look at Wikipedia, which gave me the impression that Levantine Arabic can also be seen as a group of dialects. Does that make sense? – AModHasNoName Sep 16 '17 at 9:22
  • From my limited experience, there are regional variations within Levantine dialect. Syrians say naas, Lebanese say nees. Syrians say 2aa3ed, Lebanese say 2ee3ed. I assume that Jordanian and Palestinian Levantine slightly differs as well. Though my understanding is, that those variations are mutually understandable. – Vitaly Sep 18 '17 at 1:10
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There are resources for Levantine Arabic, but not necessarily "interactive".

For Gulf Arabic, see my answer to this question.

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