I’ve studied with over 20 different Arabic teachers during my years trying to learn the Arabic language so I have seen my share of mistakes in seeking to learn Arabic, here are some:
1) You need a teacher not a speaker – Some amazing Arabic teachers cannot deliver a great speech. Likewise, some amazing speakers cannot teach. Many often use Islamic knowledge as the criterion for a great Arabic teacher. But some of the most amazing Arabic teachers do not necessarily have strong Islamic knowledge as they have only focused on the teacher the Arabic language their whole lives.
2) There is good and bad in every teacher – Some students are always focusing on the negatives of a teacher, eg they are unorganised, they focus too much on grammar, too much on speech, too much on reading etc but in reality, a true student will learn from every teacher.
3) High fees does not necessarily equate to good quality teaching – Some students see a great website, some good marketing and exorbitant fees and become excited with a program. In reality a student needs to distinguish between good marketing and good teaching. You should always seek a trial period prior to committing the long term.
4) You do not need to travel overseas – Many claim you NEED to go overseas to learn Arabic. Over 10 years ago this may be the case. But technology has advanced so quickly now that I truly believe that one can study online full time for a year and be able to gain a similar level as someone traveling overseas. This obviously depends on the hard work of each individual student.
5) Learning Arabic on the side – Here is a real life case of someone I advised:
I’m a Uni student, working part time, studying full time and I’m looking to get married! I’m involved in da’wah, I attend regular lessons, I’ve tried a few Arabic lessons but they weren’t successful. I’m so busy and I still want to study Arabic!
There is a saying : The pure wisdom of knowledge will not come to do until you give it your pure effort.
Many believe they can take Arabic as a side subject along with the rest of their lives. In reality if one is to make significant progress, they will need to re-structure their lives to make Arabic an priority.
6) Beware of extremes – Some will claim you just need to focus on grammar, others only on reading, other say speaking is essential. In reality you need a holistic approach to learning Arabic if you truly want to be able to seek knowledge and understand Islam in Arabic. Each skill will reinforce one another in helping you to understand the language. I have found that those focusing only on one particular skill set tend to forget what they have learned much quicker than those who have taken time to invest in a holistic learning approach.
7) Start now – There is never a right time, but many who have traveled the path of Arabic and have gained an enough level of competency in seeking knowledge in the Arabic language have said many times it was the best investment of their time in their life and a decision they never regretted.