The very best Egyptian Arabic textbooks for learning spoken Arabic in our experience as intermediate language learners.
Arabic is a huge and rich language. Even spoken variants, like Egyptian Arabic, have a huge amount of resources.
If you’re interested in learning to speak Egyptian Arabic it can be daunting to know where to start. But there’s a huge range in quality in Egyptian Arabic textbooks. A bad book will confuse you; a good book will help navigate you through what at times can be a quite confusing language.
We started with one of the below books. But we know that everyone’s situations and needs are a bit different. Some people prefer an e-book. Some have a foundation in spoken Arabic already and want to focus on dialogue. And some people just want a book that every teacher is familiar with (which is an advantage as you can swap teachers easily).
We tried a few of the most popular Egyptian Arabic textbooks and have provided notes on them all for you below.
The best Egyptian Arabic Textbooks – in a nutshell
Here’s how to pick the Egyptian Arabic textbook that’s best for you.
- If you have teachers don’t mind getting a printed book (on paper) — get Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh
- If you want a good digital book teaching advanced dialogue and have a foundation in grammar and vocab, get Kalaam Kull Yoom
- If you want a more teach-yourself guide, and can do either paper or e-book, get Colloquial Arabic of Egypt
There are a few more options out there, but I really believe the above three should be good for the vast majority of Arabic language learners.
If you’re going to a language school, they might suggest a different book. But otherwise, try one of the above!
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Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh by Samia Louis
- Louis, Samia (Author)
- Arabic (Publication Language)
- 268 Pages - 03/01/2009 (Publication Date) - The American University in Cairo Press (Publisher)
Firstly, nobody uses the expression “Bishweesh” in everyday Arabic. So don’t learn that phrase!
In theory, it means “Speak to me in Arabic slowly/gently”. Because that’s what you’re doing in the early days!
Apart from that outmoded phrase, Kallimni ‘Arabi Bishweesh is a well-recommended beginner’s Arabic book. You can find illegal copies on the internet (and some tutors even send you digital ones), but it’s pretty inexpensive to buy at around US$30.
This book is not also available as an e-book for your Kindle, so you have to buy it in print.
Kalaam Kull Yoom by Alaa Abou el Nour and Matthew Aldrich
- Aldrich, Matthew (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 251 Pages - 07/24/2019 (Publication Date) - Lingualism (Publisher)
Matthew Aldrich produces a bunch of books in digital format, listed in our article on the best Arabic e-books to buy.
I love the books Matthew Aldrich produces for a few reasons
- They’ve got really modern, useful content. The dialogues are very relevant to everyday life. Some older textbooks do things you never have to do in real life, like navigate a taxi (everyone uses Uber these days and visitors rarely know the best way).
- They have insane attention to detail. I don’t find errors in these books. Sometimes I think I do (aha!), and it always turns out that the error was in my own understanding.
- There ars great audio and digital resources. It’s easy to go download the mp3s and listen to them.
It’s hard for me to suggest just one of Lingualism’s Egyptian Arabic books. I’ve found useful the following ones:
Colloquial Arabic of Egypt By Jane Wightwick and Mahmoud Gaafar
- Wightwick, Jane (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 384 Pages - 08/13/2015 (Publication Date) - Routledge (Publisher)
This was the book that we used for our early studies, although we used it as an e-book. There’s still stuff in there I haven’t fully memorised!
The authors are well-respected in the Arabic language-learning community. They have published advanced texts in Modern Standard Arabic as well.
In general, Colloquial Arabic of Egypt does a good job introducing all the elements of spoken Arabic grammar you’d need for daily life. It also gives you a good beginner’s vocabulary. The audio is great too — it’s all available online so you can download it to your computer or phone (or you can buy the version with the CDs).