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Simple Arabic Pronunciation Guide

July 21, 2023

Arabic's unique sounds and pronunciation may seem challenging at first, but understanding its key elements can significantly improve your speaking and listening skills. This guide provides an introduction to the essential aspects of Arabic pronunciation.


In Arabic, there are three basic vowels:a: Like ‘a’ in "car."i: Like ‘ee’ in "see."u: Like ‘oo’ in "too."Each vowel can be either short or long, with the long vowels approximately twice as long in duration.


Arabic contains several consonants that do not exist in English and can be difficult for English speakers:خ (kh): A sound like ‘ch’ in German "Bach" or Scottish "loch."غ (gh): A sound similar to French ‘r.’ح (h): A harsher version of ‘h’ in English, almost like breathing on a mirror.ع ('a): Known as the voiced pharyngeal fricative, this sound doesn’t exist in English. It's produced deep in your throat and is often represented as 'aa.ق (q): A sound similar to ‘k,’ but produced further back in the throat.ذ، ز، ث: These sounds correspond to ‘dh,’ ‘z,’ ‘th’ and are similar to their English counterparts but have slightly different articulation points.


In Arabic, some consonants are "emphasized" or "heavy" letters (t, d, s, dh, z), which means they are pronounced deeper in the throat and cause neighboring vowels and consonants to also be pronounced deeper in the throat.


Arabic words usually stress the penultimate (second-to-last) syllable, but there are many exceptions.

Practicing Pronunciation

Practicing pronunciation takes time and patience. Listening to native Arabic speakers and repeating the sounds, words, and sentences they use can significantly enhance your pronunciation skills. Consistent practice is key!

For Teachers

Learn how to link this guide to your speakable speaking assignments: Setting Students Up for Success: Guide to using Text Cards for Instructions.This guide is a simplified overview and not exhaustive. Pronunciation can vary widely across different Arabic-speaking regions. This guide is based on Modern Standard Arabic. If your students are learning a specific dialect, some of these guidelines may need to be adjusted.

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