for Dr. Bulbul's students

What to do while waiting for Arabic 3 or higher to begin

After completing an Arabic course at UvA Talen, it can sometimes be a long wait until the next course begins. So, pupils occasionally ask what they can do to keep working on their Arabic while they’re waiting for the next course. I provide a few ideas in this article, which is for students who have completed UvA Talen’s Arabic 2 or higher. If you have only completed Arabic Beginners, then look at this page instead.

Use a Language-Learning App

Language-learning apps often hype unrealistic results, but if you adopt a more realistic outlike, viewing them as just one tool in your language-learning toolbox, such apps can be a great supplement to in-class learning. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Duolingo. Though it has quite a few imperfections and drawbacks, especially with respect to its inconsistent pronunciation of grammatical suffixes in Arabic, Duolingo’s Arabic course can be fun and even addictive. Regardless of whether you have completed Arabic 2, 3, or 4, the course is sure to help you retain what you’ve learned and enrich your vocabulary. Duolingo is available as an in-browser experience or as an app. It’s totally free of charge!
  • Babbel. I wouldn’t want to use Babbel starting from scratch (there is no explanation of grammar available), but it can be useful if you already have some background in the language. Every lesson introducing some vocabulary using pictures, but the meatier part is a dialogue with a fill-in-the-blank exercise. My experience with the Polish-language course on this platform was mixed: vocabulary introduced in the first part of the lesson didn’t correspond with what was in the dialogue, even though it was obviously supposed to. Like Duolingo, you can access Babbel either in your browser or as an app. There are both free and paid options.

Find a Conversation Partner or Teacher

I highly recommend finding either a language exchange buddy or a teacher on It’s a great platform where all the scheduling and payments (if you choose a paid teacher) are handled centrally. In the classroom, there isn’t much time to let you talk and express yourself in Arabic. lets you converse with a native speaker. What a great way to enhance your classroom experience and put what you are learning into practice!

Work through a Textbook

If you are ambitious, you could use your time working with an alternative textbook (that is, other than Mastering Arabic 1 and 2, which UvA Talen uses for Arabic 2 through 6). Here are a few suggestions for such books in English, French, and Dutch:

  • Complete Arabic.  I highly recommend Complete Arabic, which also optionally comes with audio CDs. Since you can already read, the first few units of the book are quite doable. You will learn some useful new vocabulary and keep up with your reading. If you want to purchase it in a shop in Amsterdam, it may be available at either Waterstones or American Book Center on the Spui.
  • Arabic for Dummies. While I have not gone through this book systematically, thumbing through it at a bookshop gave me the impression that this is a good, well-rounded textbook, despite the title. In Amsterdam, I have seen it on the shelf at American Book Center on the Spui.
  • 40 leçon pour parler arabe. This is a wonderful little pocket-sized textbook if you read French. Each lesson starts with a dialogue or text in easy-to-read print with a translation on the facing page. For the book alone, you’ll pay around €8 from the FNAC, or you can buy it in a box with two audio CDs for around €45.
  • Arabisch voor beginners 1. Learners who have taken Arabic 2 or 3 may benefit from this Dutch textbook, especially those who are interested in the details of formal Arabic grammar. There is also a second book in the series for more advanced students.

I hope this gives you some ideas and that I will see you in one of our Arabic courses!


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