Language lessons in Dubai

The best places to brush up on the lingo before starting a holiday

Area Guides

We trail the best places to brush up on the lingo before your escape to the airport.

Flights booked, travel insurance sorted, unbridled pre-holiday enthusiasm packed? Amidst all this pre-escape mania have you suitably armed yourself with the local language? Being able to communicate in a dialect other than your own is a highly prized skill and we shouldn’t need to remind you of the fact it opens up the world of culture, travel as well as your career like nothing else. And if you’ve ever found yourself struggling to decipher a menu or directions while in a foreign clime, you’ll know a few choice phrases can go a long way. So don’t be lost for words this summer, here’s where you can learn a new language in Dubai.

French: Alliance Française
Alliance Française Dubai has courses for adults and children. It hosts courses all the year and offers not only structured teaching but a social network of French speakers so you can practise skills with native tongues. For adults there’s regular courses of 21 hours (morning and evening), ladies-only classes on Wednesday mornings and conversation classes, too. If you are not sure of your level, call ahead for an assessment. The next adult sessions runs from Monday June 23- Sunday July 27.
Dhs1,600 per seven-week term, plus Dhs100 for registration and Dhs150 for text books. Daily. Various locations including Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.afdubai.org (04 341 4666).

Spanish: Dar el Ilm Language School
Whether you’re heading to Spain for the summer or one of the 19 other countries that have Spanish as an official language then being able to hablar español will stand you in good stead. Dar el Ilm was established in 1980 as an Arabic language school but as demand grew it branched into different languages and now offers Spanish courses from beginners to A-Level standard. Each course runs for 24 hours (excluding the GCSE/AS-Level/A-Level) and is taught by a native Spanish-speakers.
Dhs1,680 per term or Dhs240 for private session. Next term begins Thu June 5. 9.30am-11.30am, 6.30pm-8.30pm. Daily. Dubai World Trade Centre Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.dar-el-ilm.com (04 331 0221).

Mandarin Chinese: Qi Chinese
Chinese is a particularly tricky language to learn as it is tonal, meaning that the pitch at which you say a word changes the meaning. To avoid any embarrassing misunderstandings the best way to learn is with a native speaker. At Qi Chinese, students learn in small classes. There’s lessons for all levels, plus options such as Chinese for business and Chinese cultural awareness. If you’re pushed for time you can even opt for a Skype class, so you can learn on-the-go.
From Dhs85 per hour. Timings vary. Dubai Knowledge Village, Business Centre 14, www.qi-chinese.net (050 878 8266).

English: British Council
Speaking English is a great way to improve your career prospects, and communicate with people whether you are on holiday or staying here in the emirate amid our diverse society. The British Council runs classes with expert professional teachers, and students are assessed by a written test and interview prior to being assigned a class for the right level of learning. It also has a business English course for corporates and all students have access to comprehensive online learning resources to aid study. Next adult beginner’s course runs from May 25-6 July.
Dhs2,300, excluding books. Dhs100 for assessment. Sun-Thu 8.30am-6.15pm. British Council, Tariq Bin Ziyad Street, near Rashid Hospital, Dubai www.britishcouncil.ae (60 052 9995).

Arabic: Iqra’a Arabic Language Center
If you want to extend your Arabic vocabulary beyond ‘yallah habibi’, there are a number of places in Dubai to do so. Arabic is considered to be one of the hardest languages for non-Arabic speakers to master, but the course at Iqra’a Arabic Language Center specifically caters to those who have very little or no knowledge of Arabic. The course focuses on conversation but also covers reading, writing, the alphabet and basic grammar. Class sizes are capped at seven students per session, so sign up early to get a spot this term.
Dhs990 (excluding books) for beginner 1 conversational modern standard Arabic. Course runs from May28-June 25. Mon, Wed 6.30pm-8.30pm, Iqra’a Arabic Language Center. Sunset Mall, Jumeirah 3, www.iqraalc.com (04 388 1155).

Going off the beaten track: Eton Institute
The Eton Institute offers more than 100 languages such from Azeri to Xhosa, so no matter where you go in the world, you won’t be lost in translation. At the Eton Institute classes take place in the target language so you’re immersed into a new language from the first session. It holds flexible classes on weekends and evenings and new sessions are popping up all the time.
From Dhs1,100 (excluding books and materials). Sun-Thu 8am-9pm, Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Dubai Knowledge Village Block 3, www.etoninstitute.com (04 438 6826).

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