Listening to podcasts in Arabic can be a great tool to learn Arabic for several reasons. First, it’s very convenient; you can listen while you are commuting to and from school and work or on your daily stroll.
Second, improving Arabic listening skills is a crucial component of learning Arabic whether it’s Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or a dialect. You can hone your listening skill while enjoying an interesting topic or discussion.
Third, because these podcasts are made by native speakers for other native speakers, they offer you the opportunity to learn about the target culture, social issues, style of humor and ways to express yourself in Arabic just like native speakers do.
A regular listening routine combined with a good intermediate level Arabic textbook like Al-Kitaab can take you to the next level and help you build Arabic mastery.
Below is a list of popular Arabic podcasts in MSA, Levantine and Gulf dialects. While there are tons of Arabic podcasts, I selected these because they are delivered in excellent Arabic and offer a good expression model for Arabic learners to emulate.
Fanajeen translates into coffee cups and it’s a reference to when Arabs drink as they sit among themselves to discuss literature or books.
This podcast offers 20-minute summaries and insights from Arabic and foreign books. Most of the books cover self-development, business and spiritual topics.
All the episodes use professional voiceover talents who use clear and concise Modern Standard Arabic vocabulary.
Due to the nature of the content, intermediate Arabic learners can start benefiting from this podcast. Since some of the books are best-sellers in Europe and North America and you may have been familiar, the learning benefit would be even greater if you want to improve your Arabic listening skills.
2- Lahthah “Brief Moment”
It’s a podcast produced by Al Jazeera Network. This obviously enjoys a big budget and you can tell from the sound quality and the quality of the two main commentators.
It’s a history podcast that sheds light on the key moments in the history of the Arab region . The details are narrated through interviews with individuals who either lived those moments or are experts in the field.
Please note that Al Jazeera is sponsored by Qatar and therefore has a pro-Qatar editorial line.
In terms of language quality, this podcast boasts two of the most eloquent Arabic speaking journalists. Their use of MSA is outstanding and they articulate very well. This podcast is a great resource if you want to improve your Arabic listening skills, particularly in matters of geopolitics, world affairs and Mideast history.
However, the guests do not necessarily possess the same linguistic abilities and you’ll be able to distinguish that.
Due to the high frequency or historical and cultural references, the content of this podcast may be a little challenging even for some intermediate level Arabic learners. ILR L3 and above will be able to follow the narration with varying difficulty.
Regardless, I recommend this podcast as a good Arabic listening input for the learners even if they cannot understand a lot.
This podcast offers a series of narrated Juha folk stories that combine comedy, wisdom and lessons-learned in life. The narrating character is Shalhoub, Juha’s donkey.
The narration and the dialogues are in MSA. Pronunciation and grammar are correct. The voice actors are good, making for animated and funny scenes that can capture your imagination.
The register, topics and the genre make this Arabic series easy to follow and a great resource to help you improve your listening skills . This would be perfect for intermediate learners and even advanced beginners.
4- Alf Lila Wa Lila
This is the 1001 Arabian nights tales.
This is another expensive production funded by Sharja Emirate as part of a program that seeks to promote Modern Standard Arabic and reading across the world.
The tales are not narrated by a female voice talent as Shahrazad, retelling dozens of tales popular in the Arab culture. There are also other voice talents to reflect the various characters.
It is narrated in easy to follow Modern Standard Arabic with excellent articulation, which makes it perfect whether you are trying to improve your Arabic listening skills or just trying to enjoy some good folk tales.
This is also great since it offers great insights into the folk that makes a significant part of the Arab psyche.
This is suitable for intermediate Arabic learners and above. Advanced beginners could benefit by gaining exposure to spoken Arabic and training their ears.
5- BBC Xtra
BBC Xtra describes itself as the flagship daily 2 hour live magazine programme on BBC Arabic, driving social and human interest issues onto the main news agenda of the Arabic Service.
Topics are quite varied covering issues such as childhood, current events, love & technology, stepparents, risks of eating out and the list goes on and on.
Modern Standard Arabic
Intermediate and above.
The excellent Arabic the presenters speak and the variety of topics make this an outstanding Arabi learning tool, as it will allow you to improve your Arabic listening skills and expand your vocabulary on various topics.
6- La Hudud (No Borders)
This podcast is a repository of a weekly live talk show that is also aired live on Youtube and Facebook. This talk show covers an array of issues from Canada and the Arab world. It also provides a platform for Canada-based and other Arab experts and political analysts.
Modern Standard Arabic
Intermediate or advanced speakers of Arabic.
Because the talk show sometimes delves into country-specific issues , this may require deeper cultural knowledge that only intermediate-to-advanced learners are exposed to.
However, the diversity of guests from different parts of the Arab world offers exposure to the full spectrum of Arabic accents, which in itself brings a learning valute to any curious learner of Arabic.
This will definitely help you improve your Arabic listening skills even if the topics can be a bit too specific.
7- Blank Maps
This is an excellent podcast to follow for anyone who has interest in the Levant region and dialect. It covers a variety of social, political and personal topics in addition to issues like identity, nationalism and political representation.
It’s run by Lebanese journalist Tala Elissa, who describes herself as “caught between journalism and social theory. Blank Maps is her first trial at mixing the two.”
It can be found on SoundCloud as well.
8- 30 minutes.
8- Thartharaa ثرثرة
Presented by Saudi podcaster Khalid AL-Yahya, this podcast offers outstanding narration of historical and interesting events and popular international books in correct and well-enunciated Arabic. It’s a great listening resource if you want to improve your Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) listening skills.
Language variant :
Intermediate-to-advanced learners can benefit from this podcast. Intermediate-level learners who are not acoustically inclined may face difficulty following the narration during some passages but it’s a great language input to listen to for any serious learner.
This podcast is narrated by Lubna Alkhamis, who has an angelic female voice and good command of MSA. Topics cover social, psychological and cultural issues. Lubna speaks at a slower rate making it perfect for any intermediate learner who wants to improve MSA listening skills.
Modern Standard Arabic
Intermediate to advanced
10 to 30 minutes
10- The Sumaya Alnasser Podcast
This is a talk show run by Saudi self-development coach and guru Dr. Sumaya Alnasser. Callers ask for self-help advice and counseling over personal, marital and social problems and debate multiple issues at length with a particular emphasis on women issues.
This podcast is also a great resource for anyone with an interest in Gulf social and gender issues.
This podcast can also be located on Soundcloud.
Gulf Arabic or Khaliji Arabic
Intermediate Gulf Arabic
11- My Arab Identity
This podcast explores issues of identity among the Arab immigrant communities in Australia and focuses on those for whom “it feels like they belong in two places, and nowhere at the same time.
This podcast is unique and probably helpful to many learners of colloquial Arabic since the narration is both in English and Arabic. This makes it a lot easier for many learners to pick up cues from the English narration to understand the Arabic parts that are hard to understand.
Levantine, Iraqi and Egyptian dialects.
Intermediate . However, because the content is in both Arabic dialects and English, this will be easier to listen and understand even for learners who have not reached a solid intermediate level of Arabic.
~ 15 minutes