Can I learn Arabic online? Yes and No.

“Can I learn Arabic online and bypass the Arabic portion and go straight into [enter program/institute/university]?”

I have heard this question so many times that it is easier to answer it here. The quick answer is not really. The long answer:

There are a few reasons why I believe someone is asking this question:

1. They believe that learning Arabic [or any language] is like any other science.
This couldn’t be further away from the truth. Learning a language has less to do about intelligence and more to do with motivation and hard-work. Rewiring your brain to think in a different way takes time, especially after you have been trained to think in a certain way and in a certain language for a couple of decades.

2. Their sense of time is based on academic semesters.
Can I learn Arabic in 3 months or a summer? Yes, the fact of the matter is that many people only have summers/3 months at a time available, but this should not affect one’s mentality in approaching the language otherwise they limit learning a language to a certain amount of time instead of making it a life-long journey and establishing benchmarks. Setting a long-term approach reduces stress and frustration otherwise the student becomes demotivated because they didn’t accomplish their goal and then convince themselves that they are not capable when in reality their expectations were unachievable to begin with. I have seen this too many times. So change the intention before entering Arabic.

3. They believe that online education is the new best thing.
USA today reported that 85% finish their classes face to face and 79% of online students stick with their studies to the end of the semester. The statistics are clear, studying face to face leads to better results. If you can study face to face then you should always go for that.

 

“Why would I every want to learn online if studying face to face is better?

1. You are someone who has exhausted all their options.
If you tried your best and could not find a way to study face to face then online studies are a viable option. With motivation and dedication a student online can learn just as much as someone who learned face to face. It just takes extra motivation.

2. The hybrid approach.
The scenario presented before was if you could only choose online or face to face then you would choose face to face. However, there is a trend [and one that I highly approve of] which combines both approaches. With face to face learning it is important to have that human connection, but it also can take up a lot of time. You may have missed something in class and was not able to write it down. Driving back and forth may take a toll (especially with all those red lights!). This is where an online approach supplements face to face learning very well. Using a resource to go back to in order to fill the gaps is what pushes an average student over the hump.

3. Community.
If someone is motivated and interested in learning, online learning exposes you to people whom you would have not been able to reach before. I can’t tell you how many people I have been connections with studying or teaching online!

 

Summary:
I strongly believe that everyone needs to have an online resource to study Arabic. The best approach is to use that resource to supplement their face to face learning, and if they are not able to learn face to face then they can still learn using that online resource. 

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