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How to learn Egyptian Arabic in a way that suits you

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Owner of egylearn. Been learning Egyptian dialect for 2 years!

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Learn how to learn Egyptian Arabic through an adaptive approach that works for you.

Learn Egyptian Arabic in a way that suits you #

Everyone learns languages differently. If I tell you how to learn a language that approach might not work for you. What you need to do is adapt and pick a method that works for you and your goals. In this post I will outline the steps to achieve that.


This is a lot to take in - so I put everything in a nice ordered list!

  1. Pick a skill(s) to learn
  2. Find some good resources that work for you - google is your friend
  3. Make a table of small wins that you want to achieve for the week
  4. Each week check off what small wins you achieved
  5. Track your effort
Please feel free to adapt this blueprint to your own preference. If a step isn’t working out then skip it. The most important thing is that your blueprint works for you.

Step 1 - Pick a skill to learn #

There are three main skills to master when learning a language. Pick one and focus on that:

  • Listening. Arguably the most important skill to master when acquiring a language. This is all about being able to comprehend what people are telling you.

  • Speaking. Mastering this allows you to express whatever you like in your target language.

  • Reading. Familiarize yourself with the script of your target language and practice reading words on paper.

Step 2 - Gather resources to learn from #

Okay, so you picked a skill to learn. Now you need to gather learning resources that are appropriate for your level in the language. Resources can be anything in your target language - books, videos, music, movies etc.

Resources for listening #

Check out my post for improving your listening comprehension!

My main sources for listening material comes from books or youtube. While books are not free, they are excellent because they are structured and are accomponied with tons of dialogue options.

Youtube Channels I reccomend #

  • MohCoolMan - This channel includes lyrics for music in all kinds of dialects. The best part are the translations of disney songs dubbed in egyptian dialect.

  • Linguamid - This guy offers nice explanations and covers some cool idioms in his countdown lists.

Books I reccomend #

  • Kalaam Kull Yawm - An excellent series aimed at false begginers. Each book comes with tons of dialogue for different scenarios.

  • Kallimni Arabi series - There is one book for each level of comprehension. Scenarios include introductions, gossiping about neighbours and asking for directions.

  • Lingualism - Okay it’s not a book but a website full of books for so many dialects. Each book comes with audio which makes the asking price worth it.

G.L.O.S.S. - The best FREE resource I have come accross #

This website is so good that it deserves it’s own section. Developed by the American Defense Language Institute this website has listening excercises for 42 different languages.

The excercises are truly excellent. They will expose you to natural dialogue and each section comes complete with detailed explanations on new words and idioms. Finally, the scenarios introduced are actually fun!

In the Egyptian series, scenarios include cooking tutorials and neighbours gossiping about their friends affair. I would happily pay for this even it wasn’t free!

Resources for speaking #

The only way to practice speaking is to find a partner to speak with. I’ve only experience with HelloTalk and iTalki.:

  • HelloTalk (free!) - Find a partner for free by signing up to this social network. I have made many friends from Egypt and Sudan using this site.

  • iTalki - Pay for a tutor that will guide your learning. Honestly a great resource to quickly find a language partner. My Egyptian tutor became my tour guide in Cairo!

Screenshot of a conversation on hellotalk
A conversation on HelloTalk. Photo by Colorado University

One of the best resources is a friend

In my experience, one of the BEST resources is a reliable friend that you can annoy with questions. Why waste hours googling when you can ask your friend what a phrase or word means. If they’re extra helpful they’ll even send a voice note outlining all the scenarios where you can use the word you are asking about.

Find resources that work for you #

Just because I like something doesn’t mean you will. Experiment and play around with different resources to see what clicks for you. Unless you are extremely disciplined, you will never learn a language if you don’t enjoy the process!

You will notice I did not reccomend Anki or Duolingo etc. This is because I don’t enjoy using these tools - but you might!

Step 3 - Structure your learning #

Okay, so you picked a skill to learn and found some resources you like. The next step is to structure your learning process. This is essential as it will allow you to track the hours you are putting in and learn consistently.

Focus on small wins #

The key to learning effectively is to pick something small to learn. For example, say you open Kalimni Arabi and find a dialogue you like. Focus all your attention on learning that dialogue 100%. That means comprehending each word in the audio and learning all the vocab.

When you do this it feels like you are learning very quickly - and that is great for motivation. It is also easy to track how many “small wins” you are making.

Below are some more examples of small things you can win at:

skill small win
listening comprehend all the lyrics to a song
reading learn the alphabet
listening learn to comprehend 1 dialogue
speaking do 1 lesson of iTalki

The key is to set small, acheivable goals that you can focus your attention on. The goals need to be really specific as in the example above.

Set your “small wins” for the week #

Okay, so now you have some ideas of some small wins you would like to achieve. The next thing to do is write a list of which ones you will accomplish in the week. For example:

small win difficulty
comprehend all dialogues in chapter 4 (kalaam kull yawm) medium
comprehend disney version of let it go hard
1 lesson of iTalki easy

Feel free to add your own columns for extra metrics that are important to you. Some people prefer to put in a time estimate instead of difficulty for example. Or perhaps put in the number of dialgoues you would like to learn:

small win time estimate no of dialogues
comprehend all dialogues in chapter 4 (kalaam kull yawm) 4 hours 5

Save your “cirriculum” #

You created your table of the work you will do for the week. Now save it somewhere! I like to use google sheets. For each week I create a new sheet with a new table of small wins. I can then switch between each sheet to track my progress.

Easily as good as a google sheet is a paper notepad that you can flick through. Each page can represent a different week.

Step 4 - Track your progress #

Each time you accomplish one of your small wins for the week, you should cross a line through it. Or check it off your list. Or colour that row green if your in google sheets. Do something to indicate that you achieved your goal.

This is so important because over time you will see if you are hitting your targets every week. You will begin to understand why are failing to progress in your target language. You will also learn what tasks you are good at and which resources are working for you.

Finally, crossing a task off your list feels good! When you can look at how much you accomplished in 1 week you will motivate yourself to go further. You will realise that learning a new language is not impossible!

Write down a summary of how your week went #

Okay, this one isn’t neccesary and it might not be for everyone.

After each week, have a small think about how that week went. Quickly summarize what went well, what went badly and why or why not you achieved your goals. Think about how much effort you had to put in and what resources worked for you!

Step 5 - Track how many hours you worked #

Once you have a rhythm going try tracking how many hours you’ve put into learning your language. This will help to illuminate why you are or are not making progress.

I have hit a plateau many times in my efforts to learn Egyptian. I feel like I am working hard to learn all my dialogues but sometimes I still wonder why I am not making quick progress. However, a quick look at how many hours I have put in is very revealing. I probably average 30 minutes of learning a day. It isn’t enough to make quick progress!

Therefore I urge you to track how much time you are putting in. If you find it is a lot and you are still making poor progress then consider using different resources.

Closing thoughts #

I realise it is a lot of work to create your own cirriculum but it is worth it! You can finally take control of your situation and find a way of working that suits you.