The 9 Best Books to Learn Arabic Effectively

Kelsey Wetherbee Last updated on May 22, 2023

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Arabic is a difficult language, and you might have had trouble finding the right resource to help you learn. Using a textbook for studying Arabic is a tried and true method. There are many options available for the independent learner or if you are studying with a tutor. This article is a guide to the best Arabic learning books available. No matter your level, there’s a book on this list that will help you learn the language effectively.

Best Books to Learn Arabic

Arabic is considered one of the most difficult languages for English speakers, but learning it can be very rewarding. The US government classifies it as a critical need language, meaning that you can get scholarships, and potentially a job, for studying it. Even if you aren’t interested in foreign service, Arabic speakers are in high demand at many companies as business in the Middle East continues to grow.

How Long Will It Take You To Learn Arabic?​

What is your current level?

Upper Intermediate

What level do you want to reach?

Upper Intermediate

How many hours will you study each day?

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Arabic is one of the most spoken languages in the world. There are 25 countries that have Arabic as one of their official languages. Because the geographic area they cover is so vast, there are many different varieties.

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the standardized version of the language, but it’s mostly used in literature, mass media, and academia, and is typically not spoken as a first language. But you’ll need to learn it if you want to read and write in Arabic. For verbal communication, it’s best to learn a regional dialect, as they are spoken on a daily basis, and MSA is not. The most spoken dialects are Egyptian, Maghrebi, Gulf, and Levantine Arabic. Ultimately, you’ll need to learn both MSA and a dialect if you truly want to be fluent in Arabic.

What Are The Best Books To Learn Arabic?

To find the best books to learn Arabic, I found popular choices used by learners studying Arabic as well as books from well-known language learning companies. Then, I examined the books to see the key features of each one and who could benefit from using them. Finally, I compiled the list below to provide options for every type of learner.

Below you’ll find the best books for learning Arabic. Scroll down to learn more about each one.

Best Overall Arabic BookMastering Arabic
Best for BeginnersComplete Arabic
Best for Self-StudyArabic for Dummies
Best for Learning Arabic ScriptMaster the Arabic Alphabet
Best for Arabic GrammarEasy Arabic Grammar
Best for Egyptian Colloquial ArabicKullu Tawmam!
Best for Levantine ArabicColloquial Levantine Arabic
Best for Mastering VerbsPractice Makes Perfect: Arabic Verb Tenses
Best for ReadingArabic Stories for Language Learners

Mastering Arabic

Best Overall Arabic Book

Mastering Arabic is the best overall book to learn Arabic. It teaches Modern Standard Arabic and provides a gradual introduction to the important skills necessary to understand the Arabic language and alphabet. It covers useful situations that you’ll need to get around and includes exercises to help you practice what you learn.

The book comes with access to free online audio and videos. The newest version also includes conversational sections to get you started speaking. Reviewers liked the comprehensive grammar and cultural explanations that were included. See what other reviewers had to say here.

Key Features

  • Teaches Modern Standard Arabic
  • Comprehensive way to start learning Arabic
  • Online audio and video

Complete Arabic

Best for Beginners

Complete Arabic is best for beginners because it starts with the basics and will take you to an intermediate level. Each of the 17 learning units includes grammar explanations, necessary Arabic vocabulary, and many practice questions to make sure you are on track. Any type of learner can use this book, whether you are self-studying, have a tutor, or are taking a class.

The book uses the discovery method, which means you see examples to figure out the rules and patterns on your own to help you remember the language. There are also cultural notes about the different countries that speak Arabic. People who used the book agreed that it was much more effective than an app like Duolingo. See what other people had to say about the book here.

Key Features

  • 17 learning units
  • Test yourself and track your progress
  • Tips to learn the language

Arabic for Dummies

Best for Self-Study

Arabic For Dummies is effective for people who want to self-study the language because it’s comprehensive and includes everything you need to start learning the language. It focuses on Modern Standard Arabic. In the lessons, you’ll learn basic grammar and vocabulary that will help you navigate common situations in Arabic-speaking countries. There are also cultural facts included so you can learn about Arabic-Speaking countries and how to use the language in context. 

The book includes 21 learning units and useful references like a mini dictionary and verb tables. The lessons begin mostly in English and include more Arabic as you continue through the book. Reviewers thought that the book was a good choice for beginners, but only if they are serious learners. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Features

  • Covers all necessary language skills
  • Culture notes
  • Free audio tracks online

Master the Arabic Alphabet

Best for Learning Arabic Script

Master the Arabic Alphabet is the perfect choice for complete beginners to start practicing the Arabic script. Throughout the book, you learn the isolated, initial, medial, and final forms of each character. The book teaches the correct stroke order and includes practice pages to help you train your muscle memory when writing.

The book includes font variations to help you recognize the different character styles. There are also basic pronunciation guidelines for each character. Reviewers agree that, while it’s marketed for children, it’s very useful for adults learning the Arabic script because it takes you through the basics step-by-step. See if this book is right for you here.

Key Features

  • Learn the isolated, initial, medial, and final forms of all characters
  • Trace and practice pages
  • Suitable for children

Easy Arabic Grammar

Best for Arabic Grammar

Easy Arabic Grammar is a great option if you want to focus on and perfect the most difficult topics of Arabic grammar. It’s not an extensive tome that will teach you every minute detail, but it’s useful for beginners and intermediate learners to get a better grasp of the language. The book is divided into 2 parts, the fundamentals of Arabic grammar and verbs.

There are clear explanations and practice activities that help reinforce what you learn. Because there is an answer key, a self-study learner can use this book as well as someone studying in a class or with a tutor. People who purchased the book liked the clear and concise explanations. See what you think about the book here.

Key Features

  • Learn the most important grammar topics
  • Clear and concise explanations
  • Practice questions with answer key

Kullu Tawmam!

Best for Egyptian Colloquial Arabic

Kullu Tawman! focuses on Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, but gives a basis for Modern Standard Arabic and discusses the differences between the two. It has thorough grammar explanations and CDs so you can listen to correct pronunciation. There are tons of practice activities like translation exercises, pattern drills, and vocabulary lists. 

It’s important to note that the book doesn’t introduce the Arabic script until the later lessons, so if you’re interested to learn that first, you might need another resource. Reviewers thought enjoyed the comprehensiveness of the book and liked that the focus was on the Egyptian dialect, not Modern Standard Arabic. You can read what other people who purchased the book thought here.

Key Features

  • Learn the differences between Egyptian Colloquial Arabic and MSA
  • Suitable for self-study
  • Accompanying online audio

Colloquial Levantine Arabic

Best for Levantine Arabic

Colloquial Levantine Arabic teaches this specific dialect while trying to bridge the gap with Modern Standard Arabic. It focuses on the conversational use of Levantine Arabic without ignoring the importance of learning the Arabic script and giving you a basis to learn MSA in the future.

The book teaches the most important Levantine Arabic vocabulary with common dialogues and offers gradual introductions to grammar topics. There are also verb conjugations with example sentences. People who studied with the book liked the explanations and example sentences. See what you think about the book here.

Key Features

  • Useful introduction to Levantine Arabic
  • Start by learning the Arabic alphabet
  • Included audiobook

Practice Makes Perfect: Arabic Verb Tenses

Best for Practicing Verbs

Practice Makes Perfect: Arabic Verb Tenses is for learners looking to understand exactly how and why to use verb tenses in Arabic. This book has extensive explanations, practice exercises, and sentences that reflect the modern use of the language. You’ll also learn why to use a specific verb tense in a given situation.

Because the book exclusively focuses on grammar and verb conjugations, it’s best to have some knowledge of Arabic before using it. Reviewers liked the organization of the book and the example sentences. You can see what you think about the book here.

Key Features

  • Specific focus on verb uses and conjugations
  • Practice exercises and answer key
  • Bonus app included

Arabic Stories for Languages Learners has 36 folktales written in Arabic with English translations. It’s meant for intermediate learners, but since it has English translations, it can be used by anyone interested in learning about Arabian culture and language.

The stories are traditional folktales but have been simplified for language learners. It also contains a series of questions in Arabic and English, as well as online recordings of the stories. Reviewers agreed that the book was too difficult for beginners and is more suited for intermediate learners. You can read what other reviewers thought about the book here.

Key Features

  • 36 stories written in parallel Arabic and English
  • Classic folktales simplified for language learners
  • Online companion audio

Why You Should Use Books To Learn the Arabic Language

Using a book to learn Arabic might seem like an old-fashioned way to learn, but it can also be one of the most effective. Books provide detailed descriptions and practice questions that other resources can’t provide. If you are trying to study Arabic, a book is an excellent choice because they offer explanations, tips, cultural tips, and more. And they are portable so you can take them wherever you go.

How To Use Books To Learn the Arabic Language

The best way to study Arabic with a book is to create a language-learning routine. The most progress is made when you study every day, or at least a few times a week, even if you can’t dedicate much time. Consistency is the key to remembering what you learned and building upon it.

Books are effective but are best used in combination with other learning methods. For example, a language app is an inexpensive way to learn a lot of vocabulary and practice basic phrases. You can also take an online Arabic course that has live classes so you can practice speaking and conversation.

Best Books To Learn Arabic: Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve found a book on this list that can help you learn Arabic quickly and easily. There are many excellent options available, and reading user reviews and seeing what additional resources are included can help you choose the book that’s right for you. Once you choose your favorite option, it’s time to get to work. With consistent study, you’ll be speaking Arabic before you know it!

Best Books To Learn Arabic: FAQ

Can I learn Arabic from a book?

Yes, you can learn Arabic from a book. There are many excellent options available that cover all areas of language learning. Some Arabic language books start from the very beginning and introduce you to basic grammar and vocabulary. Others can help you practice reading and writing the Arabic script, while some help you learn a large amount of vocabulary.

What is the first book for Arabic learning?

There are a few high-quality choices for books you can use when you first learn Arabic. For example, Mastering Arabic, Arabic for Dummies, and Complete Arabic are comprehensive options that are good choices for beginners with little to no experience with Arabic. They teach grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing. It’s an easy way to get started learning the language.

What are the best ways to learn Arabic?

The best way to learn the Arabic language depends on your learning style and level. Many beginners enjoy using an interactive language app because it teaches the basics quickly and easily. If you prefer to go more in-depth in the language, books are an excellent choice because they provide descriptions and practice questions, and most have access to online audio so you can also practice listening and understanding. Once you reach an advanced level, a good option is to take online classes with an Arabic tutor.

How can I learn the Arabic language by myself?

You can learn Arabic by yourself up to an intermediate level. There are so many options available to learn Arabic online, such as a language app, course, or textbook. Any of these will help you learn basic vocabulary and grammar to reach a conversational level of Arabic.

Kelsey Wetherbee

Kelsey is the Content Manager and Editor of Langoly. She is a TEFL-certified English teacher with more than eight years of classroom experience in three different countries. She’s an avid language learner with an advanced level of Spanish and is currently studying French. Whenever possible, she loves to travel and enjoys meeting people from all over the world. Connect with Kelsey on LinkedIn.

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