It’s not a secret that several Spanish words come from Arabic. Or 8%, to be exact. But how does this play into when Arabic speakers try to learn Spanish? Is Spanish hard or easy for native Arabic speakers?
Not that fast - how different are Spanish and Arabic?
Around 8% of Spanish words come from Arabic - of those, we only use 2000 regularly. But when we are assessing how hard Spanish can be for an Arabic speaker, there’s something else we need to take into consideration: the alphabet. Arabic and Spanish use very different alphabets, and getting used to reading and writing can take a bit of time. So that’s about the first thing prospective Arabic speaking students should bear in mind.
The second thing that they should take into consideration is that, despite Arabic’s influence in Spanish and Spanish culture, Spanish derives from Latin. This makes Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian our closest relatives. If you’re a native Arabic speaker who has had little contact with any of these languages, then you’re not likely to recognize a good portion of Spanish words once you hear them.
Advantages for Arabic speakers learning Spanish
However, Arabic’s historical influence is not lost. There is one point in which Arabic speakers get a headstart: pronunciation. There are two common Spanish sounds that speakers usually struggle with - even those from closely related languages - which are the ‘j’, e.g. jarra, and the ‘g’, e.g. girar. Arabic shares both sounds with Spanish, so Arabic speakers can naturally master words with them.
Apart from this big advantage, we also need to take into consideration that many Arabic speakers from North Africa have listened to Spanish or French beforehand. Spain has two exclaves in the middle of Morocco - Ceuta and Melilla - and occupied other cities in the region for centuries. In other countries, such as Algeria or Tunisia, French is widely spoken. Although French and Spanish are far from being the same thing, the language structure is alike.
Where can Arabic speakers learn Spanish?
Since Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, most universities in Arabic speaking countries also teach Spanish courses. However, it might not be easy to find Spanish native teachers elsewhere - and that is actually why Spanish Gurus was born in Dubai, UAE. Through our platform you can connect with Spanish native teachers and tutors worldwide, even areas where Spanish is not commonly taught.
Duolingo, the world’s most famous language app, has also launched a Spanish course from Arabic, so that can be of some help. You can practice and integrate Spanish Gurus with Duolingo so that we can monitor your progress. You may also try to find Spanish speaking expats in your area, and see if there are any Spanish publications. If you can’t find any, don’t despair - once again, the Internet will come to your rescue. Just check out the list of Spanish online resources that you can use.
The bottom line
If you speak Arabic, you will undoubtedly have some advantages when you decide to learn Spanish. However, you shouldn’t expect Spanish to be too similar to your native language, despite some undeniable similarities. For those who speak or are have been exposed to other Romance languages at length, you can expect an similar language structure.