Learning Armenian is a rewarding experience for any Armenian.
Much of the material below is taken from Arak-29 and reorganized. We highly recommend you visit the Arak-29 website and, especially if you are interested in learning Armenian, the vast resources available for free here.
If you are completely new to the Armenian language, start here to learn about the Armenian alphabet, the Eastern and Western dialects, basic expressions in each, a bit of etymology, and an introduction to the Armenian Church service and prayer that are fundamental to Armenian culture.
The official language of the Republic of Armenia, the Artsakh Republic, and used as the primary Armenian language in the Diaspora communities of Russia, Iran, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Modern Eastern Armenian (outside of Iran) uses a reformed orthography that changed how Armenian was written.
Eastern Armenian has maintained the pronunciation of Classical Armenian and thus has more sounds than its counterpart in Western Armenian, making it slightly more difficult for someone unfamiliar with the sounds to learn. However, spelling in Eastern Armenian is easier for a non-native speaker because it is phonetic, whereas many words’ spelling in Western Armenian simply has to be memorized.
Study Eastern Armenian
You can access Dora Sakayan’s whole textbook on modern Eastern Armenian for free at the following link: Eastern Armenian for the English-speaking World.
Most commonly spoken in the Middle East and in certain communities in Europe and the Americas, Western Armenian maintains the traditional orthography of Armenian but with updated pronunciation. This means that some sounds still extant in Eastern Armenian are no longer used in Western Armenian and thus may make it easier for an English-speaker to learn.
Study Western Armenian
Dr. Thomas J. Samuelian of Arak-29 has made a full-length course in modern Western Armenian available for free online. This is a complete year-long course in Modern Western Armenian with grammar tutorials, conversations, vocabulary and exercises. You can follow the link to download and read A Course in Modern Western Armenian – Volume 1.
If you decide to continue your studies in Western Armenian, you can continue on to A Course in Modern Western Armenian – Volume 2.
Alternatively, you can also use Dora Sakayan’s textbook on modern Western Armenian, Modern Western Armenian For The English-speaking World.
Classical Armenian (Grabar)
Classical Armenian, known as Գրաբար (Grabar/Krapar), is the first Armenian written in the alphabet created by Mesrob Mashtots. It was the main Armenian language for over 1,000 years and, although it is not used in daily communication today, it is still the language of the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church and is also the basis for both dialects of modern Armenian.
Study Classical Armenian
There are a number of resources you can use, prepared by Arak-29, to acquaint yourself and to learn and practice Classical Armenian. As might be expected, these are all related to the Church, for which the writing system was originally developed and the language itself – Classical Armenian – is currently maintained.
St. Grigor Narekatsi – Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart (Classical Armenian-English concordance)
Thomas à Kempis (Classical Armenian-English concordance)
The best resource for Armenian dictionaries is Nayiri.com, where there are over 100 digitized dictionaries of every kind.
If you are interested in further exploring the etymologies of Armenian words, you can take a look at Arak-29’s wonderful online tool for the roots of Armenian words.
If you prefer a text you can read on a tablet or download and print, take a look at Arak-29’s Armenian Etymology, with English Cognates and PIE Roots.
The orthography of the Armenian language was reformed in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) twice, once in 1922 and again in 1940.
If you are already proficient in Armenian and would like to learn about the differences in the orthographies and, especially, to learn how to write in the classical orthography as a person who is more familiar with the reformed orthography, you can access Arak-29’s text on orthography here.