root: س-م-ع / verbal noun of form VIII / definition: listening
Listening skills are essential to build when you’re learning a language. But for many students, it can be hard to find listening resources that are: (a) at the right level and (b) interesting enough to maintain your focus.
As an Arabic student, Al Jazeera and BBC Arabic may be your go-to listening resources—until, that is, that you realise that most of the content is going straight over your head and the speed of speech barely gives you time to process the word في.
And when you’re studying Arabic it can be really hard to detach yourself from all of the resources that revolve around the topic of politics, which is why listening to the news in Arabic can not only be tiresome, but also limited in the type of vocabulary you’re being exposed to.
Other than documentaries (of which you can find a huge amount on YouTube), podcasts can be really good resources to practise and strengthen your target language listening skills.
To be honest, after listening to some different Arabic podcasts, I’ve only found one that is actually interesting and useful, and that’s The Arabic Circle.
The podcast is essentially a series of talks in Arabic by various speakers about a whole range of topics. And because the immediate audience of these talks is the Arabic students at the University of Chicago, the level is perfect for intermediate to higher level learners.
Listening to this podcast really makes me feel like I’m sitting in Arabic lectures again (I can’t reminisce too much otherwise I’ll be tempted to sneak back into the classes), and the content—for me, at least—is the perfect balance between comfortable listening and new vocabulary.
Whether you use an app or go on the website, the good thing about podcasts is that you can download the episode(s) you want and listen to them even when you have no internet (e.g. on the tube).
While there doesn’t seem to have been anything new uploaded since 2016, there are so many episodes to go through that you won’t run out any time soon.
(The episode about the topic of death and decay in al-Ma’arri’s poetry, by the way, is really great to listen to if you’re interested in Arabic poetry!)
Do you know of any similar Arabic podcasts? If you do, make sure to tell us in the comments below, because I really do think that there’s a lack of Arabic podcasts like this, especially for intermediate and higher level learners.
Anyway, happy listening!