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Arabic is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith. It is the tongue in which the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. As such, it is the only language in which the Quran can be fully experienced. For centuries, Muslims grew up speaking Arabic as their native language. This allowed them to read, write, and understand the Classical Arabic in which the Quran is presented. Today, however, this is not the case. Mass immigration and widespread conversion have resulted in Islam spreading across the Western world. While this is undoubtedly a positive for the religion, it means many second and third-generation Muslims are growing up speaking a language other than Arabic. As a result, Arabic-speaking parents are experiencing difficulties introducing the language to their children. While it is certainly a challenge to get a young child to speak Arabic when they are used to speaking English, French, or another Western tongue, it is not impossible. In this article, we'll be discussing some of the most effective ways to help your children understand Colloquial, Classical, and Modern Standard Arabic.
Many who are fluent in Arabic do not speak it as their first language. Even native Arabic speakers may find themselves primarily speaking a different language if they live in the Western world. We have often heard stories of people who grew up speaking Arabic becoming so used to speaking English that they do so even in their own home.
There is no disputing that it is better for a child to grow up speaking the national language of the country they are living in. Fluency in English or whatever the country's national language may be will make education, socializing, and, in the long-term, networking, markedly easier for your child. However, you don't need to avoid speaking Arabic entirely in order for your child to understand English. Studies have shown that a child can pick up multiple languages from their parents and have little trouble switching back and forth between tongues. For this reason, we encourage Muslim parents to make a conscious effort to speak Arabic when in the company of their young children.
This is likely to have a two-prong effect. First and foremost, your child will develop an understanding of Arabic just as a child develops an understanding of any language that is regularly spoken to them. Secondly, children tend to be fascinated by the actions of their parents and often wish to mimic them. Consequently, when your child notices you speaking in Arabic, they will want to do the same. Speaking Arabic at home is the best way to inspire a love of the language in your child.
If religion is your primary motivator for introducing your child to Arabic, be sure to make some time to read to them from the Quran. Whether read in lieu of a bedtime story or as a means of bonding around the dinner table, the Quran will reveal to your child the poetic beauty of Classical Arabic. When presented as the direct word of Allah, it will also help your child understand the importance of learning Arabic, as it is the only language in which the commands of the Creator can be understood.
As your child's relationship with Arabic develops, they will understand more and more of the Quran. They will be able to pick out certain words and phrases with which they are familiar. These minor successes will encourage them to continue studying the language and will cause them to listen more attentively as you read from the Quran. In time, they will feel confident enough in their understanding of Arabic to try reading the Quran for themselves.
If you want your child to have a formal Arabic education, you should hire an Arabic tutor. Given the ever-expanding numbers of Muslims in the West, it isn't hard to find an Arabic teacher in most Western countries. It is important to remember, of course, that there are many different forms of Arabic and most teachers tend to focus on their preferred form. Some Arabic tutors teach Classical Arabic exclusively, while others may offer lessons in Modern Standard Arabic. Lessons in Colloquial Arabic may be more difficult to find, but any native Arabic speaker should be able to provide some level of education in their colloquial tongue.It is also important to note that not all Arabic tutors are qualified to teach the Arabic language.
We advise against basing your child's entire Arabic education on formal tutoring. Just like we did when we were children, kids these days tend to detest formal education of any form. English, mathematics, geography, and, yes, even Arabic become boring to a child when presented in a classroom setting. At Studio Arabiya, we keep this in mind when formulating our lesson plans. Our Arabic tutors strive to provide an interactive learning experience that will keep your child engaged throughout their lessons. When combined with positive reinforcement and practical applications at home, the Arabic lessons we offer will help your child forge a rewarding relationship with Arabic, preventing the language from becoming "just another subject" in their eyes.
Kids these days are infamous for their love of technology. Oftentimes, it seems a modern child knows how to unlock an iPhone before they know how to say a word in any language. While the obsession today's youth have with technology certainly presents ample problems, it does have some advantages when it comes to introducing your children to Arabic.
The Apple and Google Play stores are filled with apps intended to facilitate learning Arabic. Although most cannot master a language with just an app, there are some that have helped children and adults alike get a good grasp of the Arabic language. What your child learns will vary from app to app. Some Arabic apps are dedicated to helping novices master the Arabic alphabet, which is no easy task. Others, however, focus on teaching common words and phrases. For religion-oriented parents, there are apps that provide robust lessons in Classical Arabic. Whatever form of Arabic you want your child to learn, you can be certain there is an app for it. Most Arabic teaching apps utilize charts, games, and rewards to keep younger users invested. This ensures your child is both entertained and motivated by their Arabic studies.
Studio Arabiya's online portal account and app is a great resource for learning Arabic on your phone.With online flashcards and Arabic books, it's a great addition to the live Arabic learning classes.
There was a time when Muslims leaving the Middle East had to bid farewell to the media of their homeland. Today, this is thankfully no longer the case. The rise of the internet has bred worldwide connectivity. It has made it possible for immigrants all over the world to access the media of their home country at the touch of a button.
Arab media can be easily enjoyed no matter where you are living. On YouTube, you can find a wide range of cartoons, movies, and songs designed to introduce kids to the magic of Arabic. Elsewhere on the internet, you can find downloadable books and magazines written in Arabic, as well as podcasts and other forms of modern media. Much like the aforementioned Arabic learning apps, the Arab media that is view-able online captivates children while they learn, allowing them to master the Arabic language without even realizing it.
If you want to introduce your child to the applications of Arabic outside of reading the Quran, you should consider traveling to Arabic-speaking countries. If possible, you should try to take your child to your home country, as doing so is likely to instill in them a sense of patriotism. This will further inspire your child to learn the language of their ancestors. If it is unsafe or simply inopportune to travel back to your home country, there are plenty of alternative Arab countries you can visit with your child. In fact, Arabic is the official language of a staggering 26 countries. This makes it the fifth most spoken language in the world.
Taking your child to an Arabic-speaking country will give them the invaluable opportunity to hear the language spoken outside of a religious setting. It will also allow them to practice their own Arabic in everyday situations. While this may seem intimidating to your child at first, you can assure them that Arab hospitality is second to none. As you likely already know yourself, native Arabic speakers are quick to embrace any student who exhibits a genuine interest in learning the language. Those your child attempts to interact with will be patient and encouraging, giving them the confidence to explore their full range of Arabic vocabulary in conversation. Finally, a stint in an Arab country will expose your child to strains of Arabic they may not hear at home. Rather than the Classical and Modern Standard Arabic commonly taught in the Western world, they will experience a colloquial form of Arabic that is unique to the region you are visiting. If you are not from the country you choose to travel to, you may pick up a few new Arabic words yourself!
The past couple of decades have been tough for Muslims. Abhorrent acts carried out by supposed Muslims in the name of Islam have caused Islamophobia to spread across the Western world. While it once seemed like attitudes were changing for the better, anti-Muslim rhetoric is at an all-time high in some of the most powerful countries in the world. As a result, many second and third-generation Muslims are ashamed of their heritage. In some cases, they may even buy into the propaganda being spewed by anti-Muslim hate groups and start believing that their ancestors were nothing more than blood-thirsty zealots. When a young Muslim begins to view their religion and its founding figures in such a light, it is nearly impossible to get them interested in learning Arabic.
Of course, the anti-Muslim propaganda being spread by certain groups is just that; propaganda. It uses fabrications and half-truths to present Islam as a death cult and Muslims as a threat to Western society. By exploring Arab history with your child, you can show them that nothing could be further than the truth. A quick flip through any book on Arab history will reveal the massive contributions that the earliest Muslims made to the Western world and humanity as a whole. For example, it was Muslims who introduced the oud to Spain during the Middle Ages. The oud was a string instrument, not unlike a lute, which ultimately evolved into the guitar, thus changing music forever. Similarly, the marching bands that are such a common sight at parades and American sporting events can trace their origins back to early Muslim culture. And then there is, of course, coffee. Arguably the most famous of all of Islam's secular contributions to the world, coffee is a cornerstone of human civilization. We use it to wake ourselves, to keep ourselves motivated, and to relax ourselves after a long day at work. Additional Muslim inventions you can discuss with your child include the toothbrush, modern medicine, algebra, and the magnifying glass. Even the earliest known blueprints for a "flying machine" were designed by Abbas ibn Firnas, a 9th Century Spanish Muslim! Knowing the world owes so much to early Muslim scholars, your child will be excited by the prospect of following in their footsteps. The first of these footsteps is, of course, learning Arabic.
Arabic as we know it was first spoken some time between the 1st and 4th centuries. In the 2000 years which have passed since its birth, Arabic has spawned a major world religion, countless revolutionary inventions, and some of the greatest minds to ever walk among us. If the beauty of the tongue is to be enjoyed for another 2000 years, we must make a conscious effort to introduce it to our children and our children's children. This can be done using any combination of the tips outlined above. By speaking Arabic at home, downloading smartphone apps, traveling to Arab countries, and utilizing the additional methods discussed in this article, you can ensure your child develops a positive relationship with Arabic early on. Before you know it, they'll be conversing in Arabic and reciting the Quran flawlessly.