Learn to Read Arabic

When I first started to learn Arabic in preparation for moving to Jordan, I put more focus trying to learn to speak Arabic than on trying to learn to read it. I figured I could get along for the short time I planned to stay there by just asking people for information. 

Boy, was that a mistake!

Not long after arriving and getting a job as a language teacher, I was invited to join one of my students and her husband for an iftar meal. (Iftar is the meal that Muslims have when breaking their fast at sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.) I felt honored and accepted wholeheartedly. They lived in Jerash and would meet me at the bus station when I arrived there. All I had to do was get a taxi to the bus station and get on the bus to Jerash. Easy enough, right?

The main bus station in Amman is located in Raghadan. I took a taxi there, and when I got out of the taxi, I was a bit overwhelmed. Hundreds of buses were there, coming and going in every direction. Which one should I take to Jerash? I looked at the side of the bus where the destination is written… in Arabic! I could read a little Arabic, but some of the buses were moving so quickly, I hadn’t enough time to read where they were going. Finally, I stopped a hospitable looking Jordanian fellow and asked him. He told me, “Oh, you just missed it! Another one will come in about 30 minutes, if they don’t stop for iftar, which means it could be another two hours.” Would I make it?

Well, yes, I did make it as another bus to Jerash did, in fact, arrive 30minutes later and drop me off in Jerash where my student and her husband were patiently waiting just as the call to prayer (and thus, iftar) started.

My point to this story is that I underestimated the importance of learning to read Arabic and I don’t want you to make the same mistake. Yes, learning speaking and listening skills are important in learning any language because if you’re going to learn a language, most of the time you use it will actually be spent speaking it and listening to others respond. However, learning to read (and subsequently write) Arabic is perhaps even more important when learning the language.

The Importance of Learning to Read Arabic

Learning to read Arabic has a way of spilling over into other areas and helps you become more proficient in other areas of learning Arabic like listening, speaking, and writing. In fact, many Arabic scholars will give you the same advice when it comes to learning Arabic – the more you read and listen, the more you will become an effective user of the language.

Besides boosting your Arabic language skills in listening, speaking and writing, reading also helps you build your vocabulary. The more you build up your vocabulary, the more proficient you become at being able to produce clear and effective Arabic. This is important if you’re learning Arabic for beginners.

However, reading is even more important and beneficial if you are at an intermediate level of proficiency in Arabic. By then, you’ve moved on from trying to learn basic Arabic words and have started to increase reading comprehension on a wide variety of topics. At the advanced level, you’re learning to increase the speed of your reading, and by the time you get to university, you’ll have reached a level of reading that shows just how effective you are at using the Arabic language.

The Best Way to Learn Arabic is to Make Reading a Daily Habit

It’s a fact of life that everybody develops habits, whether good or bad, throughout the course of their lives. While it’s easy to start and hard to stop bad habits, it’s often the opposite when it comes to good habits. And when it comes to developing the good habit of reading Arabic every day, we often make excuses for ourselves like “I just don’t have time” or “I’m just too tired today.” However, once you start a habit, it often trumps the excuses you make, so make reading a daily habit and watch your Arabic language grow every day.

“How?” you ask.

Well, here are some tips that will get you started and keep you engaged in reading Arabic:
  • Silent reading – if you feel shy about making mistakes while reading Arabic, reading to yourself silently will give help you understand the words and their meanings in context without the fear of making those mistakes; after all, you’re the only one who can hear you.
  • Oral reading – once you’ve built up your confidence by reading silently, try reading the text out loud, first with yourself, then try it with a teacher or language partner.
  • Extensive reading – you can get the gist of what you’re reading in Arabic by reading long passages for overall comprehension and not stopping to understand every word.
  • Intensive reading – If you start reading shorter passages in detail, you’ll not only learn to understand each and every word and but also see how sentences are structured and punctuated, which will be a big help when it comes to your Arabic writing skills.
  • Finish what you’ve started – Yes, it may be difficult at times and you may feel lazy or discouraged to finish an Arabic reading passage (especially if it’s a long one), but disciplining yourself to complete your reading task will help your Arabic improve and push you to new levels.
So there you have it. Once you’ve learned to read Arabic, you’ve opened yourself up to a whole new world of learning other important Arabic skills, so do it and do it often.

If you would like to know more about all aspects of learning the Arabic language, please visit us at kaleela.com and download the Kaleela Arabic language learning app to your IOS or Android mobile device. It’s one of the best Arabic language learning apps for learning to read, write, speak, or listen to Arabic available today.