Frequently asked questions
Isn't Arabic hard to learn?
There’s no effortless way for adults to learn a new language, despite what some may claim. Learning any language takes time and consistent effort (which can, of course, be great fun). Newbies reach advanced levels of proficiency through practice, study and a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them.
Arabic is certainly no different in this regard but, in the end, it isn’t really more complicated than other languages. If you attend classes regularly, study between class meetings and arrive prepared every week you can move confidently through our program and learn Arabic. Arabic’s challenges will be clarified for you as you advance through our curriculum.
Also, while Arabic can be tricky, in some ways it’s less complicated than most European languages. For instance, Arabic has a very simple verb system — only two tenses!
How long does it take to learn Arabic?
It takes time to learn any new language well. If you take a lesson per week you'll complete our program in two years, but you can become quite conversant within a few months. So although there might be much more to learn, Arabic can begin opening doors for you fairly quickly.
Learning Arabic at Pacific Arabic
What is Pacific Arabic?
Pacific Arabic is a private online language school. For 19 years we operated a brick-and-mortar school in downtown San Francisco but now offer our courses only online. We are a secular, apolitical enterprise with only one purpose: helping our students learn.
Are your classes only for adults?
Not at all! While most of our students are adults we also teach students as young as 12 years old. Our teacher has a great deal of experience teaching Arabic to middle- and high-school students.
How much will I learn in each course?
Each of our courses presents approximately 150 new vocabulary items and some key grammatical concepts. Each course brings you to a new plateau in your language acquisition.
What form of Arabic do you teach?
We teach Standard Arabic, the official language in Arabic-speaking countries. It is the language of television broadcasts, political speeches, literature, education and news media. It is the language children in the Arab-speaking world learn when they go to school and learn to read and write.
Nearly all written Arabic throughout the world is in Standard Arabic. And because it doesn’t vary from place to place like dialects, if you know Standard Arabic, you can communicate with people throughout the Arabic-speaking world.
How much should I do outside of class to keep up?
You may schedule as many lessons per week as you'd like, but you’ll be expected to know the new material fairly well before your nexrt lesson. As long as you're prepared for each lesson, you may go as quickly as you like. If you're busy and don't have much time to study you'll be better off taking a half course at a time so you'll have time to absorb the material between lessons. The teacher is always available to answer questions between class meetings.
How much time should I devote to studying after each lesson?
You’ll need to devote the time required to learn the new material, which may be more for some students and less for others (and the amount of time required may vary by the week). Therefore, we can’t really give a specific answer to that question. However, there’s one thing we can say with absolute certainty: it’s far better to study a little bit every day than to wait five days and cram. And with the audio CDs and
Quizlet flashcards you can review easily wherever you are.
Remember, learning a language is largely a matter of developing habits. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument: daily practice — even just a little — is the way to go!
Can I complete your courses faster by scheduling multiple lessons per week?
Yes of course, provided you're able to learn the material presented before your next lesson. If you're bright and motivated (and have time to study) you can complete a full course in a bit over a week by scheduling a lesson every day.
Which Class to Take?
I've never studied Arabic before. Which course is best for me?
Complete beginners should start with our
Arabic 1. You should know the material presented in Arabic 1 before registering for any of our other classes (except our history classes, which are taught in English).
I really just want to learn how to speak. I don't want to learn how to read and write. Do you offer classes like that?
No, we don’t. Our teaching method stresses conversation, but we teach Arabic using Arabic script in our textbooks and on the screen during class meetings. Students must be able to read and write Arabic in order to enroll in any of our courses except
Arabic 1 or
Arabic 2 (biweekly) and our history courses.
Even if you are mainly interested in speaking Arabic, learning the Arabic alphabet is well worth the relatively small amount of effort it takes if you study the language. Although it might look baffling at first, it has only 28 letters and is not very hard to learn. (You’ll likely find the experience much simpler and more enjoyable than when you learned to read and write the English alphabet.)
I studied Arabic for a while, but that was a long time ago. How do I know which class is right for me?
If you have studied Arabic before, you may schedule a
free 20-minute lesson, during which the teacher will help you determine which course you should take. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your background and your goals, and the instructor will ask you some questions about specific grammar and vocabulary.
My family is from Egypt and I grew up speaking Arabic, but I never learned to read the language. How can Pacific Arabic help me?
We can help you learn the Arabic script and the Standard Arabic language in a fun, structured manner. The Arabic you grew up speaking is Egyptian dialect, which is very different from Standard Arabic (the language of almost all written Arabic).
Your best bet would be to take our
Arabic 1 class and learn basic grammar, vocabulary and literacy skills while you become accustomed to Standard Arabic phonology.
I don't know how to read it and I can't really understand Al Jazeera, but I do speak Arabic with my family. Do I really have to take Arabic 1 with the beginners?
Although you might feel
Arabic 1 is beneath your level, you’ll find that it presents a language very different from the one you speak. Remember, modern Arabic dialects differ from Standard Arabic as much as Spanish differs from Latin. (You’ll be in good company, too, as we many Arabic heritage speakers take our beginner classes.)
How much is tuition?
Tuition is $160 for four lessons (half a course). You can save money by registering for a complete eight-lesson course for only $290. Either way, you'll have eight weeks (56 days) to complete your course before your registration expires.
What is your refund policy?
Tuition is nonrefundable. You may schedule your lessons whenever you like—in the mornings, during your lunch break, when you get home from work or during the weekend. You may have your lesson wherever you are, even if you're traveling out of town. If something comes up you may also reschedule your lesson up to six hours before your appointment. You only have to complete your lessons within eight weeks of your registration date. Given this flexibility, you have every opportunity to complete your course and, as such, we do not offer refunds.
Do you store my credit card information?
No credit card information is ever sent to or stored by pacificarabic.com. We use
Stripe, one of the most secure and reputable payment processors available. Your encrypted credit card information is sent from your web browser directly to Stripe’s servers. Stripe then provides us with a secure, transaction-specific token which is used to actually process your payment. This allows us to complete the transaction without ever knowing your credit card number.
Stripe stores all card numbers encrypted on disk with AES-256. Decryption keys are stored on separate machines. None of Stripe’s internal servers and daemons are able to obtain plaintext card numbers; instead, they can just request that cards be sent to a service provider on a static whitelist. Stripe’s infrastructure for storing, decrypting, and transmitting card numbers runs in separate hosting infrastructure, and doesn’t share any credentials with Stripe’s primary services (API, website, etc.) For more information please see
Stripe’s security policy.
Do I have to pay my tuition all at once or may I pay over time?
Tuition must be paid in full at the time of registration. We do not offer payment plans at this time.
Does Pacific Arabic provide financial aid?
No, at this time Pacific Arabic does not provide financial aid. You can save on tuition by registering for a full course, provided you're able to schedule an average of one lesson per week.
How do I schedule my lessons?
After you register you'll receive a confirmation email. Click the "schedule" link in the email to schedule your lessons. (Be sure to enter your time zone so we're all on the same page.) Your lessons do not all have to be on the same day of the week or at the same time of day. You don't even have to have a lesson every week; just make sure you complete all your lessons within 56 days. When you schedule your lessons you'll get another email confirming your appointments. You'll also receive reminder emails before each lesson.
What if I need to cancel or reschedule my lesson?
No problem! Simply click the same "schedule" link in your confirmation email to make any changes. You can change your appointment up to six hours ahead of time. Be sure to save your confirmation email in case you need to change your schedule.