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Arabic

Arabic presents a unique sets of obstacles for western-speakers. Chief among these is the writing. Although Arabic is easier than Chinese in that it has a true alphabet consisting of only 28 letters, writing is still difficult because script is written right-to-left with all vowels omitted: imgn rdng sntnc lk ths. Letters have up to four different forms depending on their occurrence within a sentence. There are no common words between English and Arabic like there are between English and European languages, so western students start with a clean slate. The US State Depart estimates that a student needs one year of full-time classroom training plus one year abroad to gain 60% fluency.