Learn Arabic with films and series
Watching movies and cartoon is not just entertainment and relaxation, it's also a great way to learn Arabic. Here are my best tips.
One of the advantages of reading Arabic is all the movies that I might not have seen otherwise. Before I started reading Arabic, I never looked at movies with Arabic speech. Then I started to choose Arabic movies just to get better in the language, and many of them became my favorites.
Since people in the Arab world speak dialect everyday, the films are also in dialect. If you want to learn a certain Arabic dialect, it is a good idea to watch films from that particular dialect area.
- Wadjda An emotional, sad and also funny drama film about Wadjda, a brave and stubborn girl in a suburb of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and handles a society where women have less rights. (2012)
- Traitors This dramafilm is about Malika (a name that means queen) who lives in Tangier in Morocco and has a punk band. She agrees to smuggle drugs to get the money she needs, and ends up in dangerous situations and moral dilemmas. (2013)
- The Source A drama-comedy film about women in a small village in North Africa that revolts against unequal traditions. The scenes from the everyday life and the show how something that is so obvious in theory can be so difficult to implement in reality. A serious and funny film that also has singing and dancing. For me, however, the dialect was difficult to understand. (2011)
- Where Do We Go Now? A drama-comedy film about Muslim and Christian women in a small Lebanese village who work together to stop the conflict between the two religions that destroy their village. (2011)
- Hassan and Marcus A Christian family change their identity, for their safety, and pretend to be Muslims. A Muslim family change their identity, for their safety, and pretend to be Christians. They become best friends, believing they have the same religion. The film takes place in Egypt. (2008) "Marcus" is played by the now deceased Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, who is known from Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. "Hassan" is played by Adel Emam who is also a well-known Egyptian actor. The other films I have seen Adel Emam starring in have been light-hearted romantic comedies, while this role is serious and definitely the best in my opinion.
- Horses of God A drama film about poor boys in a suburb of Casablanka in Morocco. They grow up and are recruited to become suicide bombers. The vulnerability and hopelessness in their lives is obvious. (2012)
- Paradise Now A drama film about two Palestinian men who have decided to die in a suicide attack. I actually don't remember much of the film, not even the end, just that it was very good. (2005)
- Omar The Palestinian man Omar risks his life every day to meet the woman he loves. But it is a love story that never happens. In Omar's life, torture and death is more mundane than marriage and family life. A thriller where you do not know who deceives who. (2013)
If you want to learn Modern Standard Arabic, cartoon for children. In cartoons, everyone speaks Modern Standard Arabic, unlike dubbed drama series where dialects are more common.
My favorite among the cartoon series is Sinbad. I like it so much that I have created a page with all the sections of Sinbad's adventure. Visit it and see the sections translated into English and a link to each of the sections.
After Sinbad, my second favourite is Nils Holgersson. The series about nils Holgersson is known and popular in the Arab world, which delight since I am Swedish just like Nils. I like the old-fashioned feeling, and the combination of beautiful Swedish landscapes and the beautiful Arabic language.
Neither Sinbad nor Nils Holgersson have subtitles, unfortunately. A cartoon that do have subtitles is Tales of women in Quran. The speach is clear and in Modern Standard Arabic, which makes the series suitable for learning Arabic. I want to be state clearly, however, that I merely recommend the series as a resource for learning Arabic. This site is religiously independent and does not favour any religion. Having that said, I would also like to mention the series about Muslim Scientists that also has clear speech and English subtitles.
An Arabic short film
Finally, I would like to recommend the short film The Turtle that is available on YouTube with English subtitles. A boy sees a turtle that is almost dying, with a plastic bag in the stomach, and decides to do something about our use of plastics. The film is from 2012 and takes place in United Arab Emirates.