Tuesday , October 25 2016

Want Books To Learn Spoken Arabic? Here Are The Best

One area where spoken varieties of Arabic have suffered is in quality books and resources.

In fact, for many colloquial dialects, there's still few or even a complete lack of written material available.

Most of the books you'll find are marketed for Modern Standard or Classical Arabic.

As we've mentioned before, this is not helpful to people wanting to communicate with Arab native speakers.

It also makes it really challenging for so many learners of spoken Arabic who want or enjoy working through course or exercise book lessons but can't.

Like many courses and programs, the focus remains on formal dialects that aren't actually spoken in the real world by Arabs.

So today we're going to share what we believe to be some of the highest quality books available on the market for spoken Arabic.

Not all dialects are represented unfortunately due to a lack of available resources.

Note: If you know of any others, do share them in the comment section below. We'll add to this list over time.


Best books for Egyptian Arabic

Kalaam Gamiil

This is an excellent two part series for Egyptian that covers a LOT of ground (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2).

It is definitely more suitable for learners with at least a little bit of previous study (especially if you studied MSA or another dialect and are moving over to Egyptian).

The second part is especially good for higher level learners.


Kalimni 'Arabi

This is a book series that you really should own if you're serious about Egyptian.

While one common complaint is that it's entirely written in Arabic, the unique thing about it is that it's written in spoken Egyptian and not formal Arabic. This is rare in that it provides you with lots of reading practice in the actual spoken language of Egypt.

All the books of the series are accompanied by a DVD and CD's with very high quality dialogues and interviews.

These are all the various levels of the series:

Beginner: Kalimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh (Speak Arabic To Me Slowly)

Intermediate: Kalimni ‘Arabi (Speak Arabic To Me)

Upper Intermediate: Kalimni ‘Arabi Aktar (Speak More Arabic To Me)

Early Advanced: Kalimni ‘Arabi Mazboot (Speak Arabic To Me Properly)

Higher Advanced: Kalimni ‘Arabi Fi Kull Haaga (Speak Arabic To Me In Everything)


'Arabi LibLib (Fluent Arabic)

This is an outstanding three part series which is full of terms and expressions that you’ll encounter in Egyptian Arabic (especially slang). It's perfect for higher level learners who want to bring their level up.

If you're serious about really fine-tuning and mastering Egyptian, get this series.


Umm al-Dunya (Mother of the World/Egypt)

For advanced students of Egyptian Arabic, this book is incredible and a must-have.

You will need to be at a high level to make use of it.


Saudi and Gulf Arabic Books

Colloquial and Teach Yourself

These are both part of two completely different (and reputable) series though the concept for both is the same.

They provide some great dialogue material with audio but the biggest drawback is the lack of Arabic script (all transliteration).

If we were to suggest one over the other, we'd definitely say go with Colloquial Arabic of the Gulf.


Excellent Books For Levantine Arabic

Colloquial Palestinian Arabic: An Introduction To The Spoken Dialect

This is an outstanding book for the Palestinian dialect (also highly useful for those learning other Levantine dialects like Jordanian).

Like Kalaam Gamiil mentioned above, it does assume that you have some kind of foundation in Arabic already as it skips the absolute basics and, like Kalimni 'Arabi, is written in Arabic script with accompanying translations in English.

It's a good source for Palestinian slang, colloquial expressions and jokes as well as culturally-relevant vocabulary.

If you're a serious learner of Levantine Arabic (especially Palestinian), you need this.


Living Arabic: A Comprehensive Introductory Course

Not to be confused with the Living Language: Arabic course which is awful!

This book actually covers MSA and Jordanian/Levantine Arabic as well.

The formal Arabic component is for reading and writing but the speaking and listening sections all use Jordanian (referred to as “educated Levantine” by the author). It's probably the only book resource that actually teaches both dialects at the same time.

The videos that come with the book on DVD unfortunately aren't the best quality but are still very useful.


Shou Fi Ma Fi? (What's Up?)

Hands down the best book available for Lebanese.

It doesn't waste time on the very basics so it will assume you've covered that already just like some of the other books already mentioned.

Shou Fi Ma Fi? points out lots of differences between the various dialects and Modern Standard Arabic.

The audio is actually a free download that doesn't come with the book itself. While the audio quality isn't fantastic, the dialogues are great.

If Levantine – especially Lebanese – is your interest, this is worth owning.


Diwan Baladna

This is a two-part series on Jordanian Arabic.

You'll want to get yourself 'Book 2' which is called The Unprecedented Spoken Arabic Dictionary (Book 1 is on culture).

It's not only a dictionary as the name might suggest however.

It covers a lot of content including phrases and expressions, idioms, vocab as well as the basics. The book also includes an audio CD.


Speaking Arabic: A Course in Conversational Eastern Arabic (Palestinian)

This is a massive and outstanding package for colloquial Palestinian Arabic.

It comes with 4 books and 5 CDs, covering a wealth of topics at various levels and highly useful audio.

On the downside, it's also quite expensive (approx. $150) but if you're serious about learning Levantine Arabic then this is well worth investing in.


Books for Iraqi Arabic

Modern Iraqi Arabic With MP3 Files

Currently, this is the only quality Iraqi dialect book on the market (that we're aware of).

The pros of Modern Iraqi Arabic are that it contains very clear explanations and uses Arabic script with accompanying transliterations, and the audio recordings are excellent.

Do make sure to get the 2nd edition however!

It also does not require or assume prior knowledge of Arabic.

The cons are that it focuses on grammar and uses a single Iraqi native speaker for all recordings (including conversations where he plays both parts).

As the only decent Iraqi book currently on the market, this is a must.


Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian and Libyan Arabic Books

An Introduction to Moroccan Arabic and Culture

Literally the best book on the market currently for Moroccan.

It comes with a DVD to use alongside the book content which also contains Arabic script + transliterations.

An absolute must-have for anyone just starting out with the Moroccan dialect.



The famous Assimil series has put out various editions that cover the Maghrebi dialects.

They are:

Arabe Marocain (Moroccan)

Arabe Tunisien (Tunisian)

Guide de Conversation – Arabe Tunisien (Tunisian), Arabe Algerien (Algerian) and Arabe Libanais (Lebanese - belongs in the Levantine category above)  ←the “kit” versions come with audio CD's also.

Unfortunately they all have French as a base language so you'll need to have a command of French to get full use out of them.

If you've never used Assimil before, it's a unique and effective course that's been around for many decades.


That's it for now. Add your suggestions below. We'll periodically update this list as we discover new QUALITY books and resources worth sharing.


About Talk In Arabic

The largest and most rapidly growing, community-driven database of spoken dialect material for Arabic learners online.

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  1. Thanks for sharing, I am trying to learn Saudi Arabic and have never found any real resources for this dialect so am very interested in checking out the books you listed for gulf Arabic. In fact I would like to just take this opportunity to thank you for this site as a whole. I am an Australian married to a Saudi guy, mum of a Saudi daughter (soon to be daughters!) and have lived in Saudi for the past 3 years and am likely to remain here for the rest of my days inshaAllah…yet despite my best efforts I have very little Arabic speaking ability. This is in large part due to the huge lack of resources I spoke of to help guide me through the language…so I am so excited to find this site and to see it expand. I will be telling all my fellow ‘foreign wife’ friends here who had the same struggle as me about this site!

    • Try to find the US Foreign Service Hijazi Dialect book. It’s older on the diplomats used to learn from. It used to be online somewhere obscure but downloadable.

      • Thanks for the suggestion, i actually came across it once and had just recently been thinking to track it down again!

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