Have you ever had difficulty understanding a native Arabic speaker? You know most or all of the words he or she used. You would understand what they said if you had read it, but for some, you can’t figure out what is being said when it’s spoken.
If you’ve studied Arabic for some time but still struggle to understand native speakers you’re not alone. This problem is a widespread one, and to be honest it’s a not a bad problem to have. Only students of Arabic with a good level of vocabulary and ability in the language will be able to tell that they don’t understand the spoken language as well as they should.
In this post, we’ll take a look at three practical ways you can improve your listening skills in the Arabic language, and take your overall proficiency to the next level.
Actively listen to Arabic
Doing things like listening to Arabic music while cleaning your room, or watching an Arabic show or movie with English subtitles are beneficial to your Arabic learning, but only to a point. These are both forms of passive listening, where you hear the language but your mind isn’t usually engaged in trying to interpret what is being said.
What really makes the difference is active listening. The Arabic posts on Lingualism are perfect for this, but you can also use Arabic music, movies, podcast, or even a YouTube channel to practice this skill (just make sure they’re in the dialect you’re learning). With your chosen tool play a short segment of the Arabic audio. Don’t use English subtitles. Play the recording back a couple times until you can more or less guess what the speaker is saying.
After you make your guess, double-check what was said against the Arabic subtitles or script. If you find any mistakes in your interpretation, go back and listen to those parts again. This method of trial and error is an excellent way to work out your Arabic listening muscles!
Learn correct pronunciation
This might sound surprising, but if you don’t know how to physically make a sound in Arabic your brain is going to have a much more difficult time trying to recognize it when it’s spoken. Many language learners think of a good accent as a luxury, but when you’re learning a difficult language like Arabic it’s a borderline necessity if you want to freely have conversations with native speakers.
To develop good Arabic pronunciation start by focusing on the individual letter sounds. After you’re comfortable with those, start to combine the individual letter sounds into words, and the words into longer phrases. Once you start practicing longer phrases try to find some recordings of basic phrases or conversation. Listen closely to the speakers’ intonation and the way they combine words when they speak. It’s these little nuances that will mean the difference in your listening skills.
Make Arabic listening a regular part of your studies
Once you start practicing your listening skills it’s important to make it a regular part of your Arabic study. It’s a good idea to set aside a specific time for each listening activity. For example, you may spend ten minutes practicing the sounds of the alphabet, another ten minutes trying to decipher an Arabic youtube video, and finally another ten minutes practicing some basic phrases.
Your listening practice can easily be more than ten minutes or less than ten minutes. The amount of time will depend on your schedule as well as how important it is to you that you improve your listening.
Following these tips will go a long way toward helping you improve your listening abilities and, ultimately, your Arabic conversation skills. Understanding native Arabic speakers might seem tough, but with a bit of practice and determination, you will see your listening skills increase!