The official language spoken in Egypt is Arabic, although Egyptian Arabic has quite a few differences to the Modern Standard Arabic spoken in nations like Saudi Arabia.
Learning Egyptian Arabic
Some Westerners find Egyptian Arabic difficult to say initially as reproducing Arabic vowel sounds can require the use of throat muscles rarely employed in European languages. However, while it may seem like a daunting language to learn it can be done! It just requires patience and persistence.
If you plan on living and working in Egypt then learning the language will hugely improve your career prospects and allow you to get much more out of the country socially. A willingness to try learning the language of your host nation can also make a big difference to how the locals perceive you.
How rapidly you are able to learn Egyptian Arabic depends on how much time you’re able to put into the endeavour. If you want to speak fluently then constant practice and complete emersion in the language can really help.
Mingling with locals, participating in a language exchange, watching Egyptian television and practising with friends are all brilliant ways of using your spare time to absorb and learn. It’s also a good idea to speak your native language as little as possible, the more you have to rely on Egyptian Arabic to communicate the more quickly you’ll learn to speak it properly!
Constant practise is fantastic but some people find they can only learn languages with the support of formal instruction.
Many Egyptian universities, colleges and private/international language schools offer lessons (particularly in Cairo), but cost and time commitment can vary significantly so doing a bit of research can really pay off.
Private one-on-one classes are often the best way to learn quickly, but these can be quite pricey. Newspapers, public notice boards and word of mouth recommendation are all ways of finding a suitable teacher.
In the end it’s entirely a matter of preference whether you decide to learn at a steady pace over a long period of time or engage in intensive classes.