Why I Teach Spoken Arabic and Not Modern Standard Arabic

I have been an educator for over a decade now. My real story started around 10 years ago though – I was teaching Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in Damascus. I had a wide range of students, the majority of which had the same issues and concerns when it came to learning MSA. They all said the same thing; “I’ve been learning MSA for a long time now, but when I try to speak to people they laugh at me. They speak to me in spoken Arabic rather than Modern Standard. What’s going on?”

The truth is, no one in the Arab world speaks Modern Standard Arabic. People speak in dialects to communicate with family, friends and colleagues. Realistically, my students needed to be learning Spoken Arabic not MSA. Imagine someone talking to you in Shakespearean English in today’s society, that’s how it sounds speaking to someone in Modern Standard Arabic.

I decided to help my students. I decided to start teaching Spoken Arabic (Levantine Arabic). But I encountered a rather significant problem in my attempts. There were no teaching materials to support any lessons I could give. No books, CD’s, no materials at all. The only books available were based around MSA and MSA alone. I began to see why it was that Arabic teachers were only recommending MSA to students, rather than them learning an actual dialect.

My frustration started to build at the situation. I wanted to teach Spoken Arabic, but I had no idea how and no resources existed to help me. That’s when I decided to create a system for teaching Spoken Arabic. I knew it was not going to be an easy task, I had to figure out everything from the rules to the structure of the language and put it into a format that was understandable to teach and learn from.

The past 10 years of my life, I have dedicated myself to teaching only Spoken Arabic and developing my teaching system. My system covers levels from complete beginner to above average proficiency. Within my first 3 years working on creating, modelling and adapting my course I wrote the first Spoken Arabic grammar book for Levantine Arabic. I went on from there to put together a complete dictionary and even write text books for a completely new language syllabus.

I began testing my methods and syllabus on my students. I was genuinely amazed with the results, as were they. Students were exhibiting amazing progress and were virtually fluent in only 5 months! I had never seen progress like this before, we were all impressed with the progression they had made. After extensive testing over hundreds of students, I pulled all my knowledge and experience together and put it into text books, audio programmes and reference guides – Essentially creating a full teaching syllabus that had never been seen before. I went on from there to set up my own Arabic language school in London. I then took the learning system I had created and applied it to the other Arabic dialects. My school has now risen to be considered the number 1 specialist school for both Arabic dialects and MSA in the UK.

About Author

Omar Nassra

I am the owner of this school with over 10 years experience teaching Spoken Arabic. I have developed a system for teaching Arabic with some students becoming fluent within 5 months.

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