Frequently Asked Questions
Why does language learning methodology matter?
Your time is valuable, and bad methodology wastes your time. Learning a language is like fitness training: think of two people going to the gym- they both want to get in shape. One person flexes in front of a mirror for 30 minutes then drinks an extra-large protein shake; the other joins a high-intensity functional fitness class with like-minded peers and a trained coach. Which one spends their time more productively?
Similarly, trying to learn Arabic by watching online videos and sleeping with an Arabic dictionary under your pillow might be fun and easy, but how effective is it? Our proprietary ICE Methodology is like High-Intensity Language Training- designed to help you learn Arabic faster and retain it longer, so you can spend more time enjoying life in the Kingdom. Learn more about ICE Methodology >
I want to be conversational / fluent in Arabic. How long will it take?
“Conversational” and “fluent” are nebulous terms, like if you told a fitness trainer you want to be “fit.” How are we measuring the outcome? Strength gain, faster 5k run time, decreased body fat percentage? For language: number of vocabulary words, grammar mastery, accurate pronunciation? What level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, writing? Similar to fitness, language learning is both qualitative and quantitative, so having a coach during the process helps you establish clear goals and track progress, ensuring a better return on your investment.
The first place to start is having correct expectations. The internet is flooded with false advertising: “Fluent in 2 months – study only 10 minutes a day!” is the linguistic equivalent to “Magic diet pill- gets you shredded in 30 days without going to the gym!”
The truth is that Arabic is one of the 3 hardest languages in the world, and research indicates a person needs a minimum of 1500 study hours to start feeling comfortable in the language. With this knowledge, it becomes a matter of math. If you study 20 hours a week— generally regarded as a full-time study— it will take you almost 18 months. At 6 hours a week, it’s about 5 years to proficiency.
The best results come from High-Intensity Language Training- weeks or months of 20+ study hours per week, along with consistent sessions throughout the year. Like fitness, including language study in your weekly rhythm yields comprehensive social, emotional, and psychological benefits. We believe it’s an exciting adventure that’s best enjoyed with others in an affable environment. Start your journey with us today >
What’s the difference between local dialect and formal dialect Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic or fus’ha)?
The local dialect is what native speakers use in daily life. MSA is primarily for written and formal communication. No country in the world uses formal dialect for daily conversation.
To illustrate the difference between MSA and local dialect, one diplomat who studied 2 years full-time at a world-renowned MSA institute told us, “When I came to Saudi, I could read and write documents on International Atomic Energy Policy, but I couldn’t go to the store and get an apple.”
When you start with hearing and speaking the local dialect, you can engage in daily life with your colleagues, friends, and neighbors. Then you can integrate MSA for where relevant for your continued improvement. Learn more about ICE Methodology >
I need some MSA for my job. Can you help?
Yes, but we start with listening and speaking in the local Saudi dialect.
If you want pure MSA, the world is filled with resources: almost all Arabic apps, books, videos, and institutes use MSA, so there are plenty of options to choose from.
If you want a majority of local Saudi dialect with some MSA, this is our specialization. Programs can be customized according to your requirements, including local dialect, MSA, reading, writing, WhatsApp messaging – everything you need to thrive in Saudi. Check out the different options to get started >
Why do you emphasize ear training?
Ear training is a natural process and improves all 4 elements of language learning- listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The best musicians listen to copious amounts of music to train their ears to recognize tones, rhythms, chord progressions, etc. With a sufficient amount of music catalogued in their brains, they are able to compose their own sounds with precision and creativity.
Likewise, ear training for language gives your brain a category for all the new sounds it’s learning, so when you start speaking, you communicate with better vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Learn more about ICE Methodology >
Is Arabic a hard language to learn?
Yes. Most scholars list Arabic as one of the top 3 hardest languages in the world because of its script, lack of vowels, grammar patterns, and vastly different dialects throughout the Arab world. Arabic is nicknamed “the language of the ‘thod’” (Arabic letter ض) because it’s the only language that exists with this sound.
Though difficult, many people have learned Arabic with the right motivation and resources. Climbing Mt. Everest is hard too, but that’s why climbers use Sherpas to help them succeed. Our Guides are like Saudi Arabic Sherpas – instructing, challenging, and motivating you throughout your journey of learning Arabic, engaging culture, and enjoying Saudi. Meet the team >
Why are the language instructors called Guides?
They help guide clients through Saudi language and culture in an immersive, experiential environment since a typical classroom setting and teacher/student relationship isn’t the most effective way to learn the language.
We don’t believe Saudi women and men need to spend thousands of dollars and several years on certifications and degrees to help others learn Arabic. Most parents around the world don’t have linguistic degrees, yet we all learn language as children.
We believe the only necessary attributes to become a Guide are to be: 1) a native speaker; and 2) a kind person who exhibits our company values of Respect, Excellence, and Patience. Because ICE Methodology is a natural learning process and native speakers already know the information, they just need some pedagogical training to learn how to guide others through the journey.
Likewise, ear training for language gives your brain a category for all the new sounds you’re learning, so when you start speaking, you communicate with better vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Book a course or session to start the journey >