Arabic Accents

If Arabic is your native language, you may be using the Arabic “sound system” when you speak English.  There are some important differences between Arabic and English. There are many more vowels in English than Arabic, and the ones that aren’t in Arabic are often used in the stressed syllables of English, so knowing and using them makes it easier for your listeners to follow you.

English has more vowels than Arabic; those not in Arabic are often in stressed syllables in English. Click To Tweet

English uses a much wider pitch range than Arabic. English also can use stress to differentiate the meaning of two words that seem identical to Arabic ears. You may not have learned much about this if you studied English as a foreign language. Some of these differences won’t have great impact; some may give you an “exotic” accent, but others can interfere with your ability to communicate.

Unlike Arabic, English uses stress to differentiate meanings of two words that look identical. Click To Tweet

You may get feedback that listeners can’t understand you, that you talk too fast. Without changes of duration in English syllable stress, you’ll be hard to follow. Arabic uses a higher level of energy and volume than English which may cause you to sound harsh or aggressive.

Perhaps you’ve gotten feedback at work that the direction of your presentation or speech is confusing. English uses intonation and pitch to help listeners understand the organization and direction of your message.

Furthermore, intonation and sentence stress carry layers of meaning and information about speaker attitudes that are not conveyed in the words themselves; you may be sending the wrong signals, or no signals.

Everyone’s different. One person’s problems are not another’s. And each Arabic dialect is different in its interference points with English. In a customized course, we will diagnose your current pronunciation habits, define your goals, determine your skills and knowledge in target areas, and create a plan that guides your accent reduction practice and leads you to a better sound in English.

Contact Peggy for information about online classes.

If you’rARABIC BOOK COVER, lydiachai, revised_ebook_cover_e an ESL or EFL teacher working with Arabic speaking students, you’ll appreciate the professional discussion in Peggy’s pronunciation teaching guide. Teaching pronunciation is an art as well as a science and both are discussed in this new perspective on pronunciation. Here’s a bit of it for you to read right now.

Introduction, Chapter 1, English for Arabic Speakers, A Guide to Pronunciation

And if you’re ready to buy the pronunciation guide for Arabic speakers, just click on the book cover, or tap here.


Peggy Tharpe teaches, coaches, and publishes about English pronunciation and intonation. She believes that if you understand why something is happening, you're better able to address it and change it. She teaches the "why" of pronunciation as well as the "what" and "how".