Learning to Read Arabic
One of the most daunting parts of learning the Arabic languages is understanding the complicated script form in which the language is written. Although it may feel difficult at first, stick with it – learning to read the script is one of the most important parts of becoming fluent in the language.
Learning to read Arabic script can be very confusing, since you must force yourself to read from right to left. In addition, Arabic is always written in cursive script and there are no upper case letters – which can make identifying different characters very difficult. And while there are only 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet, most of these letters have four different shapes, known as initial, isolated, medial, and final. The use of these variants is determined by where the letter is located in the word. As a final challenge, Arabic is considered to be a consonant alphabet – meaning that there are vowel sounds present when speaking or reading the words, even though there may not be a letter to represent them.
The following are some tips to help you learn to read the Arabic script:
1. Learn one set of letters at a time:
If you try to learn the entire alphabet at once, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll wind up feeling overwhelmed. Many of the letters look the same as others and it can be very confusing to try to learn them all at once. You’ll probably do much better and learn more quickly if you only study two or three Arabic letters each day. You’ll need to practice writing out each letter and its corresponding variants, and learn each sound that pertains to a letter. Many of these sounds are not present in the English language, which you may find challenging at first.
2. Learn the vowel signs.
In the Arabic language, there are only letters for long vowels, such as “a”, “i”, and “u”. Short sounding vowels are written as different marks above or below the consonant letters. Most of the time, these types of marks are found in certain religious tests and in instructional books for students and children studying Arabic. However, you will also find them in some regular text in order to avoid any confusion. These marks for the vowels will help show you how the Arabic vowel is to be pronounced.
3. Learn how to connect the letters by practicing your writing skills.
As mentioned earlier, Arabic letters are always written out in cursive, meaning that most of the letters will be connected. There are only six Arabic letters that have only two variants instead of four, and these letters aren’t connected to any letter after their use in a word. You’ll find that many of the Arabic letters will look different when connected to another letter than if they stand alone. Even if you’ve learned all the different forms of the letters, you’ll still have to practice to be able to write the words and letters correctly.
4. Learn to read Arabic letters.
When you learn to write Arabic letters, you’ll probably be able to read a small number of short words. However, you’ll need much more practice in order to read fluently. Begin with your text book, which will ensure that you understand and pronounce the words correctly. You also need to find examples of regular Arabic handwriting. This can be much harder to read than the nicely formed letters you will find in a book. Try looking online for examples of hand-written text, or seek out a native speaker who’s willing to help with your studies.
Practice Reading Arabic
I always encourage learners to learn how to read Arabic in its original script, because the transliteration doesn’t provide accurate phonetics. The text below is divided into three parts, the Arabic script, transliteration, and English translation. If you’re familiar with the Arabic letters then try to first read the first part and see how well you will do, if not then help yourself with the transliteration, and finally if you didn’t know the meaning of some parts, then check out the translation. Enjoyable reading!
أنا إسمي فاطمة, أعيش في مصر, أبلغ من العمر 20 سنة, أدرس بجامعة القاهرة, أحب بلدي كثيرا, أذهب مع أصدقائي لزيارة الأهرامات مرة في الشهر, أحب أيضا المشي بجانب نهر النيل حيث النسيم المنعش و المنظر الخلاب.
أحب السفر و زيارة الدول الأخرى, زرت مرة المغرب و أعجبني كثيرا, الناس هناك كرماء و لطفاء, إستمتعت بالأكلات المغربية مثل الكسكس و غيرها. أيضا زرت الأردن, بلد رائع حقا! أمضيت يوما كاملا أستمتع بمناظر البتراء, منازل منحوثة على الصخر ... زيارتي المقبلة سوف تكون للإسبانيا, حيث أرغب بزيارة ساحة الحمراء بالأندلس, بنقوشها الفنية الجميلة, أنا مشتاقة حقا لتلك الرحلة.
Ana esmee Fatimah, e'eeshu fe misr, ablughu menal umr 20 sanah, adrusu bejaame’at al qahira, ohibbu baladi katheeran, ath-habu ma’a asdiqa’i lezeyarat al ahramaat maratan fe shahr, ohibbu aidan al mashy bejaneb nahr aneel haithu annaseem al mun’esh wa almandar al khallaab.
Ohibbu asafara wa zeyarat adduwal al ukhra, zurtu maratan al maghrib wa a’jabanee katheeran, annasu hunaaka kuramaa’ wa lutafaa’, estamta’tu be akalaat al maghribiah methl al couscous wa ghaireha. Aidan zurtu al ordun, baladun ra’i’ haqqan! Amdaitu yawman kamelan astamti’u bemenader al batraa’, manazel manhutah ala assakhr … zeyarati al muqbilah sawfa takunu le Espania, haithu arghabu bezeyarat sahat al hamraa’ bel andalus, benuqoushiha aljamila, ana mushtaqatun letelka arehla.
My name is Fatimah, I live in Egypt, I’m 20 years old, I study in Cairo university, I love my country a lot, I go with my friends and visit the pyramids once a month, I also enjoy walking by the Nile river where the fresh breeze and the awesome sight.
I love traveling and visiting other countries, I visited Morocco once and I liked it a lot, people there are generous and kind, I enjoyed Moroccan dishes like Couscous and others. Also I visited Jordan, a wonderful country indeed! I spend a whole day enjoying the scenery of Petra, houses carved from rocks… My next visit will be to Spain, where I want to visit the Alhambra in Andalusia, with its beautiful artistic arabesque. I’m excited about that trip.