The Best Reasons to Read Arabic

The Best Reasons to Read Arabic

  • Outgrown your textbook readings? If you’ve been studying Arabic for a year or two, you may find that the readings in your curriculum feel limited or constructed. Authentic materials will truly expand your horizons and get at topics that matter to you.
  • They’ll really cement in key terms. Repetition is key to learning new words in any language. While there’s debate on exactly how many times you need to encounter a new word to remember it, regular updates from the same blog author will expose you to vocabulary activated in their chosen topic.
  • They’re a stepping stone to literature. Almost all Arabic literature is written in الفصحى (Modern Standard Arabic), but even if you’re focusing on MSA instead of dialect, you’ll have to work for many years before you can read the classics. One native speaker described MSA to me as Shakespearean English, except 10 times more removed (read: harder) from contemporary language. You can cram vocab all you like, but without seeing it used—and repeated—in a context, those words will fall right out of your head. Plenty of blogs employ formal Arabic to describe elevated topics, and you’ll notice your Arabic smarts go up as you practice reading them.
  • Get a primer in politics. There’s a lot of uncertainty in Arabic-speaking parts of the world right now—will repressive governments continue with business as usual, or will the public finally get a bigger say? So much of that discourse about the future is happening online. If you want to be able to read the tweets of influencers like Bassem Youssef and Rasha Abdulla you’ll need to pick up some political vocabulary and colloquial expressions. Tweets don’t come with translations, but as you’ll see, many blogs do.

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