How Can I Dive Into Reading Arabic

How Can I Dive Into Reading Arabic


Tweak your usual study habits to make sure you’re learning from the Arabic blogs you read.

  • Make your own vocab lists. Unlike reading the news on Al-Jazeera Learning, these blogs won’t come with a vocab list for each entry. Look up any new words you see, but only take notes to review words you expect to use in the future. For the love of falafel, don’t study every single new word. Some of them will literally never come up again, and you’ll overwhelm yourself, waste time, resent your life, etc. It’s your language study, so personalize it.
  • Watch out for idioms. Remember not to rely on Google Translate or your own literal interpretation of words that don’t seem to make sense together. مع ذلك doesn’t mean “with that,” it means “however.” Look up phrases on your favorite idiom sites, or ask for help from a tutor or language forums. Idioms you think you’ll use, throw into your flashcard app or preferred spaced repetition software.
  • Beyond reading. There are four language skills—reading, writing, speaking and listening—so make sure you’re engaging the rest of your linguistic brain while studying written materials. Record yourself reading a paragraph aloud to practice speaking. Listen to your recording a couple days later without the blog in front of you to practice listening—find out if you still understand the text after it has left your short term memory. Copy the article yourself longhand or by typing. Through re-writing, you can pick up some of the author’s style to use to express your own ideas.
  • Expect MSA, but look out for dialects. Written Arabic is considered inherently formal in a way that isn’t paralleled in written English. You should anticipate that most Arabic writing will be in MSA. However, be on the lookout for indications that something you’re reading is in dialect, such as verbs beginning with the letter ب, terms you know that are more common in dialect (يعيش instead of يسكن to say “he lives”), or Arabizi—using the Roman Alphabet to write in Arabic (e.g. da mish 7ilu instead of ده مش حلو to write “that’s not nice”).

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