The linguistic situation in the Arab world is characterized by what is often called diglossia, which means that there are two varieties of the Arabic language in use side by side. There is a “high” variety, called Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and there are “low” varieties, mostly referred to as local dialects or colloquial. Whereas MSA does not vary significantly from place to place, the dialects differ considerably from region to region and are sometimes mutually incomprehensible. MSA is nobody’s mother tongue but is the main form of Arabic learned in schools, and is used mainly by the educated for writing purposes and for public speaking. The local dialect, on the other hand, is the speaker’s first language for Arabian people and is used for all purposes in daily life.
Starting with the colloquial language offers another advantage when it comes to classroom teaching. The student can be confronted with the new language in situations taken from real life, which makes teaching and learning much more enjoyable.