Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm
Arabic Unlocked is here to make the process of learning Arabic that bit easier, but can it do what so many other apps have claimed to? In this review, we’ll walk you through Arabic Unlocked, discuss its main features, its best bits, and the things that don’t quite hit the mark.
ARABIC UNLOCKED APP
The content is well-designed with a range of activities and topics to choose from. It won't teach you everything, but is a useful resource for vocabulary and simple phrases.
It doesn't teach different Arabic dialects but is a perfect introduction to Classical Arabic for complete newbies or expert speakers of other dialects. We recommend it as a fantastic supplementary resource to enhance your learning experience.
TL;DR Arabic Unlocked Review
If you haven't got enough time to read this Arabic Unlocked review, here's a quick summary:
- Beautiful design
- Detailed phonetic and lexical explanations
- Comprehensive, thorough lessons
- Gamification and flashcards
- Free options, affordable premium subscriptions
- Explains too many things at once
- Complicated for complete beginners
- Limited to Classical Arabic
- Lacks speaking and writing practice
What is Arabic Unlocked?
Arabic Unlocked is an app designed to get you learning Classical Arabic through videos and interactive games, no matter your level. Unlike many of the most popular apps on the market right now, it focuses solely on Arabic and was developed by native speakers, so you can be sure you’re getting the real deal.
The developers originally built the app for Muslim learners wanting to gain a better understanding of religious texts, but that’s not to say it’s not suitable for all learners from different backgrounds.
What can you expect from Arabic Unlocked?
Arabic Unlocked lets you use the app without registering which is great for skeptical newcomers. If you do sign up, you get access to even more free content and a premium upgrade opens up hundreds of vocabulary, grammar, and story lessons.
As a complete beginner, it can be difficult to find an app that teaches you what you need to know. Luckily, this app has an entire module dedicated to the Arabic alphabet and phonetics. Not only do you learn the sounds, but also how to identify the letters when written.
The lessons are in English and Arabic which limits the app’s market but has allowed the creators to develop high-quality content, instead of spreading themselves too thin trying to please many audiences.
All learners start from Level 1, regardless of whether they're a beginner or more advanced. This might seem counter intuitive but the learners have free reign on what they choose to learn.
As a complete beginner I began with simple vocabulary (animals) and the alphabet basics. If you’re more experienced, you can test out of the content you already know.
Arabic Unlocked teaches Quranic Arabic, also know as Classical Arabic. Used mainly in holy texts (the Quran) and old Arabic literature, you will find it mainly written down or in religious recitations.
Before you run away screaming, “I want to learn the Arabic that’s actually spoken by Arabic speakers!” Quranic Arabic is very similar to Modern Standard Arabic which, although not a specific dialect, unites Arabic speakers around the world and features in formal writing and news broadcasts.
Not sure what’s the right Arabic for you? You can find out more about the differences between Arabic dialects here. If you’ve learnt Quranic Arabic, you should be able to quickly learn MSA, and vice versa.
While this may alienate learners who’d prefer to learn Levantine or Egyptian dialects, it opens up Arabic Unlocked’s market to people who already speak Arabic but wish to deepen their Quranic understanding through biblical stories and classical texts.
In any case, it’s a great app to improve Arabic for a variety of learners with a focus on culture and literature.
What are the main features of Arabic Unlocked?
A stand out feature of Arabic Unlocked is the design and clear layout. It looks professional and clean, and you easily get sucked into the next lesson.
The video explanations of grammar are well laid out and they help you concentrate for the duration. The animated videos are a brilliant way to bring classic texts to life and learn a language through storytelling.
Vocabulary and Alphabet Lessons
The best way to learn a language is hotly debated, but the one thing everyone agrees on? Repetition.
With Arabic Unlocked’s vocabulary and alphabet lessons, there’s no shortage of repetition with memory exercises and fun games.
The colourful flashcards help the vocabulary stick in your head, both orthographically and audibly. There’s plenty of opportunities to put what you’ve learnt into practice.
The lessons automatically tailor themselves to you, recognising what you’ve already learnt. If you’re nailing something, the program will move on quickly. If certain words keep tripping you up, it’ll repeat them until it knows you’re confident.
Calling all game lovers, Arabic Unlocked has found a way to make complex vocabulary and grammar drills enjoyable. Alongside their flashcards, there’s a variety of different exercises to keep your brain stimulated and your mind engaged including match up games, unscrambling the anagrams, and caption the picture.
It’s an excellent way to mix up your study sessions and check how much you’re really learning.
What are some other features of Arabic Unlocked?
Medals & Progress
You receive medals and awards for each milestone and achievement you make which help to maintain motivation. You can track your progress and if you’re really up for a challenge, you can compete to be on the leader board. Safe to say, I didn’t make it anywhere near the podium.
Prophet stories and Quranic Words
A particulary nice feature for muslim learners or those interested in theology, the Quranic words and Prophet stories put Classical Arabic in its original context to help deepen your knowledge of the Quran’s teachings.
This aspect might not interest everyone but it’s an excellent bonus that not many other apps include.
Arabic Unlocked eBooks & Academy
If you’ve tried out the app, you might want to try out the eBooks which take story learning that step further and let you consolidate what you’ve learnt so far.
The Academy offers online courses in Quranic Arabic and Language Mastery, which claim to unlock the Arabic language and get you understanding the Quran in just 9 months. They also have one-to-one tutoring services, as well as access to their online community of learners.
What we like about Arabic Unlocked
The quality of design is far higher than we were expecting, with every detail made to keep the learner engaged and enjoying the process.
There’s no limit on how much you can learn in a session, whether you only want to spend 5 minutes or hunker down for an hour. It’s incredibly user-friendly with the content categorised by topic and difficulty.
The volume of content and production level rival that of a well-established apps and are sure to please any budding Arabic student.
What we don't like about Arabic Unlocked
Despite being easy to use and a smooth introduction into basic Arabic, there are many points where new learners will be lost. The explanations and flashcards are clear and well-thought but beginners need more than short videos to get their heads around a completely different writing system.
Unfortunately, the focus on Quranic Arabic is off-putting for those wanting to learn a colloquial dialect spoken in a specific region. This app won’t get you speaking Arabic, but will help you to learn it written down.
Like most apps, it’s best paired with other learning methods, especially considering there’s little opportunity to practice speaking or writing.
Who is Arabic Unlocked best for?
The app is best for learners with prior knowledge of Arabic and the alphabet. Beginners can use the app but they’ll need to approach the lessons with patience. It’s particularly good for those interested in learning to read Arabic and a Muslim demographic wanting to familiarize themselves better with the Quran.
How much does Arabic Unlocked cost?
Arabic Unlocked has a free version both with and without signing up. If you choose to upgrade to the premium version to gain access to all content, there are different monthly and yearly subscriptions.
Overall, we’d say Arabic Unlocked is affordable for the material that you receive.
Alternatives to Arabic Unlocked
Arabic Unlocked vs. Talk in Arabic
Talk in Arabic claims to teach you 8 different Arabic dialects instead of one. As the name suggests, Talk in Arabic offers more content to get you speaking. although Arabic Unlocked’s focus on one dialect will potentially improve your vocabulary and oral comprehension faster.
Check out our review of Talk in Arabic.
Arabic Unlocked vs. Michel Thomas
The Michel Thomas method encourages active learning and gets you speaking and interacting with the language with audio lessons. The Arabic course focuses on Egyptian Arabic which is perhaps the better option to communicate when travelling.
Check out our review of Michel Thomas.
Arabic Unlocked vs. Rocket Arabic
The more expensive of the two, Rocket Arabic is just one of the many Rocket Languages on offer. Rocket Arabic puts immersion learning at the forefront with opportunities to practice writing and speaking. If you’re looking to learn a more colloquial dialect to use when abroad, Rocket Arabic might be the better choice.
Check out our review of Rocket Languages.
Final thoughts on Arabic Unlocked
Arabic Unlocked is a fantastic resource if you want to discover the ins and outs of Quranic Arabic. I had little interest in learning Quranic scripture but I benefited from the lessons and loved the animated Prophet stories.
Whether you’re looking to learn from scratch, consolidate what you’ve already learnt, or pick up a new Arabic dialect, the app has something for you. The process is fun and addictive, and we think it’s a serious competitor for better-established courses.
Sadly, Arabic Unlocked won’t help you speak or write, but instead you’ll learn to understand Classical Arabic through stories and games. If you want a more complete package, we’d suggest other courses to compliment the app.
Kris is the founder of Actual Fluency, and has spent the last 8 years becoming an expert in language learning software, methods, and techniques.
Originally from Denmark, he now lives in Portugal and speaks 5+ languages at varying levels. His other interests are Wine, Online Marketing, and Travelling.