Don’t give up hope! Some linguistic research says there is compelling evidence that it is possible for non-native speakers of Arabic to pronounce Arabic like a native. Good pronunciation can also help improve your listening and reading skills since you will begin to hear sounds the way native speakers do. Pronunciation is also very important when attempting to converse in Arabic. Miscommunication, in some cases, may stem from pronunciation issues rather than limited vocabulary or understanding.
Tips & Tricks to Try:
- Use What You Know: Many Arabic letters sound like ones you may know well in English. Start with the letters you know the sounds of already (b, f, h, k, d, t, m, s, sh, th to name a few).
- Use a Voice Recording Tool: As mentioned in the VoiceThread, Anki is a great tool to record audio. Quizlet may also prove to be strong resources for pronunciation development. Children’s songs and stories in Arabic often take the time to pronounce particular words slowly and correctly and these videos are easily accessible on YouTube.
- Practice in Front of a Mirror: Sometimes, the easiest ways to comprehend how to make a sound is to determine where the sound is coming from. With some letters in Arabic you can clearly tell which letters and sounds come from the front of your mouth and which are made in the back of your throat. You can also tell if you are pronouncing a word correctly depending on the shape your mouth makes when you pronounce certain letters or words. Pay attention to these smaller details.
- Listen to Mentors & Music: Listening to others speak the language and also hearing words used in context helps to train your ear to hear the ways certain words are pronounced.
- Be a Parrot: I once had a friend in a Turkish language class who was infamous for copying the professor out loud after they pronounced a new word. While in the moment it made me giggle (the professor jokingly called her a papağan or parrot) this technique allowed her to not only digest new vocabulary quickly, but also allowed her to perfect her pronunciation. It may seem goofy, but repetition is key!