Jordanian clip from Aamiya Arabiya

Thank you Summer over at Foreign Language Arabic blog for highlighting this wonderful series of colloquial Jordanian clips on YouTube. It’s called Aamiya Arabiya and it features young Jordanians talking about everyday subjects such as going to the cinema, using social media, their daily routine, their family, favourite foods etc. I’ve been teaching with a few of them and over the next few days/weeks I’ll be posting some of the resources I’ve made to go with them.

This is Hiba talking on the phone with a friend. I think she’s talking to someone Egyptian because at the beginning she uses the Egyptian phrase for ‘today’ = نهار دا؟ (literally, ‘daytime this’). Later on she uses  اليوم.  There are a couple of exercises below.

  1. Here are some of the phrases she uses but listed here alphabetically. Print them out and chop them up, then rearrange into the order of appearance in the conversation.

  الحمد لله منيحة

أوكي ماشي

باي بع سلالمة

تجي ع بيتي نتغدّى مع بعض ونتعشّى مع بعض

تجي عندي

ما بأقدر أطلع هلا

ما بيضبط اليوم

ما راح يضبط

ممكن بكرة او بعد بكرة

نهار دا؟

ولا سوري انا كتير مشغولة

يلله بأحكي معك بعدين أوكي؟

يمكن بكرة او يوم السبت انا فاضية الساعة ستة

  1. How would you say…?

Come to mine and we’ll have lunch together

I can’t go out now

I’m very busy

I’m free at six o’clock

It’s not going to work today

Posted in Colloquial Arabic, Listening | Tagged | 3 Comments

Nancy Ajram – Shatir Shatir

This kids’ song by Lebanese pop singer Nancy Ajram is great for learning with your little ones but is also perfect for adult beginner learners of colloquial Levantine Arabic, as it’s full of useful everyday verbs. Shatir is what you’d say to a child to mean ‘well done’ or ‘clever girl’ or ‘nice job’ etc. Literally it means ‘clever’ or ‘smart’.

We hear the same structure repeated throughout, using present tense verbs and the relative pronoun ‘yalli’ = he who. This word ‘yalli’ can also be pronounced ‘illi’ and in fusha it is iladhi الذي. Note the silent ق . I’ve broken up the lines to make them easier to follow against the English but actually they flow together more as you will hear.

PS. Only realised after posting this that it’s Lebanese Independence Day today. مبروك يا لبنان!

يالى بيسمع كلمة اهله

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

He who listens to his parents –

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

يالى بيقعد عاقل وحده

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

He who sits thinking by himself –

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

يالى بينجح بمدرسته

وما بيزعل معلمته


وبنظل نقله شاطر

شاطر شاطر

He who succeeds in his school

and never annoys his teacher

we love him

and give  him the nickname shatir

(shatir shatir)

يالى بيساعد رفقاته

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

he who helps his friends

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

يالى ما بيكذب بحياته

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

he who never tells a lie in his life

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

يالى ما بيكسر العابه

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

he who doesn’t break his toys

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

وبياكل ما بيجوى ثيابه

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

he who eats without making his clothes dirty

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

انت شاطر

انا شاطر

I’m a clever girl

you’re a clever boy

Full song here but just a few cheesy photos:

Just first couple of verses but has the video too:


So, how would you say…

  1. he listens to his parents/his family (this word ‘ahl’ = the same word as in ‘ahlan’ = hello)
  2. he breaks his toys
  3. he who/ the one who annoys his teacher
  4. he lies to his family/parents (use li for ‘to’)
  5. the one who gets his clothes dirty
  6. the one who helps his teacher
  7. he eats by himself
  8. he sits with his friends

For more Lebanese music (grown-up pop too!), check out the brilliant blog Arabic Music Translation and also this fantastic mix tape of Lebanese folk and pop classics produced as part of the Noor Festival of Arabic culture in London, Nov 2014.

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Arabic: more accessible than you think

Here’s the link to an article I recently wrote for the British Council blog series about world languages: Arabic – more accessible than you think. Enjoy and please do leave a comment. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts!

Posted in About Arabic, Colloquial Arabic | Tagged | 1 Comment

Untranslatable idiomatic expressions

I’m preparing to teach an intensive colloquial Arabic course starting in November, so you may hear more from me again in the coming weeks as I delve back into my teaching archives and shake off old worksheets that I haven’t touched for almost 18 months. Looking forward to getting back into it.

Particularly excited that my student wants to focus on Levantine dialect, with a concrete goal of wanting to be functionally conversational after two months. We’ll see what happens! It’s very hard to know precisely what kind of level a course like this will result in as so much depends on the student’s previous experience of learning a language and their motivation, but I have high hopes and know I’m going to be pushed to the test.

I’m going to be teaching mainly with the wonderful spoken Levantine course BBC Talk Arabic, but with a range of other authentic audio sources such as the films Caramel and West Beirut. It’s a delight to note down some of the lovely idiomatic expressions that come up in just the first 5 minutes of Caramel, especially the first one, na’eeman (نعيماً). I remember this coming up so early on in my first ever Arabic course and being astonished at what a bizarre thing it was to say. Literally it means “ooh, smooth!” and you say it when a friend has just had a shave at the barber’s or a haircut. I needed to check that I really did understand it, and found a great blog post on Baraka Bits about untranslatable Arabic expressions and another one in Thaqafa Magazine. I really recommend both of these lists of fascinating Arabic idioms!

What are your favourite intrinsically Arabic phrases?

Posted in Beginners, Colloquial Arabic, Speaking, Useful websites | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Nour Festival of Arts, London

This year’s Nour Festival has already kicked off in Kensington, West London, but there are loads of wonderful Middle Eastern events going on until 30 November. Highlights for me would be Syria Speaks and Souad Massi, a fabulous Algerian singer I’ve seen a few times and absolutely adore. Events are hosted at a wonderful mix of venues including several cinemas and theatres, The Mosaic Room,  the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Albert Hall.

See the full programme here. Enjoy if you are in London and manage to go along! Please do post links below if you write any reviews or blog posts about the events!

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Arabic films this month

Lots of opportunities to see Arabic cinema in the UK in September.

Screening at Encounters Short Film Festival

Date: Sunday 21st September, 2014 
Time: 3:00 pm
Venue: Watershed, Bristol

Our Souls Are Palestinian is a programme of short artists film works which look at Palestine from various perspectives, external, embedded and provocative. The two films which anchor this programme are ‘They Do Not Exist’ by Mustafa Abu Ali  (1974) and ‘Future Archaeology’ (2009/10) by Armin Linke & Francesco Mattuzzi (part of the project Decolonizing Architecture).

More info on Bristol Palestine film festival website

Safar Film Festival

Date: Friday 19 September and Thursday 25 September 2014; vintage film exhibition from Tuesday 2 September until Sunday 5 October 2014.
Venue: ICA, London

The only festival in the UK solely focused on programming popular Arab cinema, Safar includes UK premieres alongside classics of the Arab silver screen. These will be accompanied by Q&As, special introductions and a day-long forum which will bring together some of the most significant figures in Arab cinema. Safar has expanded its scope this year to include an exhibition of vintage Arab movie posters, memorabilia and contemporary art inspired by film, all shown in the UK for the first time.

View the full programme here

And coming up in Nov and Dec…

Bristol Palestine Film Festival, 2014

Date: Friday 28th November – Tuesday 16th December, 2014

The dates, programme and details of Bristol Palestine Film Festival will be announced by the end of September. We anticipate the event running from 28 Nov – 16 December, with the two main weekends being 28-30 Nov and 5-7 Dec. Follow us on FaceBook or sign up toour newsletter to stay up to date.

Posted in Film, UK events | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Learn Arabic on Twitter

twitter arabicGreat twitter accounts to follow if you’re learning Arabic. In no particular order…


Good News from the Middle East |

أخبار سارّة من الشرق الأوسط


Rotating account with tweets by a different Arabic learner/teacher each week. Run by the people behind the website

@4ArabChildren المفكرون الصغار / Little Thinking Minds

Producers of high quality Arabic educational audio-visual products from DVDs, CDs to Apps for children to inspire a love for the language


Arabic Language Training For Professional and Apsiring Linguists. Excellent resources focussing on news and current affairs vocabulary by using current media articles.


Tweeting about creativity from the arabic speaking world. Visit the blog for more info. Created by designer & arabic language learner Susan Carey.


A continually updated list of free Arabic learning resources for adults and children. Twitter feed by a provider of Arabic classes in Southampton, UK.

twitter arabic 2@arabiclanguage

Official Twitter account for the Transparent Language Arabic blog. Learn the language with free resources, social media, and research-based software.


EU-funded online course of Arabic for students, pupils and businesspeople.


They say: “The best place to learn Arabic in a way you can use it in everyday conversation, writing and reading.”


The Story of an Expat who learns/shares Arabic via tweets | Blog: |


Christopher Neil is an Arabic linguist, global citizen, and supporter of liberties and human rights, and blogs at

arabic twitter 3

Don’t forget you can change the language on twitter to Arabic on the account settings menu, so that you can read Arabic every time you log on. Don’t forget how you did it in case you need to change it back again!

Which other twitter accounts would you recommend for Arabic learners? Let me know!

Posted in About Arabic, Beginners, Teaching resources, Useful websites, Vocabulary | Tagged , | 1 Comment