The word “Arabic” refers to the many national or regional dialects/languages derived from Classical Arabic, spoken daily across North Africa and the Middle East, which sometimes differ enough to be mutually incomprehensible. These dialects are not frequently written, although a certain amount of literature (particularly plays and poetry) exists in many of them, notably Lebanon and Egypt.

“Colloquial Arabic” is a collective term for the spoken languages or dialects of people throughout the Arab world, which, as mentioned, differ radically from the literary language. The main dialectal division is between the Maghreb dialects and those of the Middle East, followed by that between sedentary dialects and the much more conservative Bedouin dialects. Maltese, though descended from Arabic, is considered a separate language. Speakers of some of these dialects are unable to converse with speakers of another dialect of Arabic; in particular, while Middle Easterners can generally understand one another, they often have trouble understanding Maghrebis (although the converse is not true, due to the popularity of Middle Eastern, especially Egyptian, films and other media).

One factor in the differentiation of the dialects is influence from the languages previously spoken in the areas, which have typically provided a significant number of new words, and have sometimes also influenced pronunciation or word order; however, a much more significant factor for most dialects is, as among Romance languages, retention (or change of meaning) of different classical forms.

The Major Groups are:

  • Egyptian Arabic (Egypt) Considered the most widely understood and used “second dialect”
  • Maghreb Arabic (Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan, and western Libyan)
  • Hassaniiya (in Mauritania)
  • Andalusi Arabic (extinct, but important role in literary history)
  • Maltese
  • Sudanese Arabic (with a dialect continuum into Chad)
  • Levantine Arabic (Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and western Jordanian)
  • Iraqi Arabic
  • Gulf Arabic (Gulf coast from Kuwait to Oman, and minorities on the other side)
  • Hijazi Arabic
  • Najdi Arabic
  • Yemeni Arabic

World Languages Taught at LaSalle II

World Language News

French Exchange Visitors at L2! 

We had the pleasure of hosting exchange students and teachers from Angers, France the last two weeks in October. Sixteen students came from Collège Mongazon to stay with host families at LaSalle II. Since the French students travel back to France the day before Halloween we decided to throw them an American Halloween-themed going away […]

Butterflies in 1st Grade Spanish

First grade students in Spanish room 203 begin the year with La oruga muy hambrienta, also known as The Very Hungry Caterpillar! We read the book and sequence the foods the caterpillar eats according to the days of the week using flip books we create, as well as discuss our own food preferences. We also […]

Good News from Our Chinese Program!

On Saturday, April 21st, Gabrielle D. and Natalie D., two of our Chinese language students, participated in the 10th Midwest Chinese Speech Contest and won two gold medals for LaSalle II. Congratulations to them! Over the past nine years 34 LaSalle II students have participated in the Midwest Chinese speech contest. Gabrielle and Natalie are […]

Students from Spain

Exchange students from Spain spent two weeks in Chicago in March. They had a great opportunity to learn about different cultures by observing classes at school, during their visits to different places in the city and also with their host families. This has been the fourth year that students come from Madrid and now it […]

Learning about Paris

French students recently concluded a unit on Paris by recreating famous monuments with toothpicks and marshmallows. Students presented their completed masterpieces in French to the class by sharing the name, arrondissement, and various activities you can do at each monument! Bravo, les élèves !