What are you reading in Arabic?
The news? Classic literature? “100% قطن” (cotton) on the inside of your jeans?
Real” Arabic texts can seem at opposite ends of the spectrum—either requiring full fluency (and a BA or PhD in linguistics) or being pointlessly simple.
What about the middle?
Plenty of your online reading for your hobbies besides best way to learn arabic online free (remember those?) takes place on blogs. You may have thought Arabic blogs are too hard for a learner, but not all blogs are equally forbidding. Some of them contain keys that allow you to access meaning—from helpful hints all the way to full translations in English.
Reading Arabic blogs is a chance to learn about topics you love from perspectives you won’t often hear in English.
Not to mention, you’ll be honing lots of key language skills while reading blogs, too!
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The Best Reasons to Read Arabic Blogs
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 easiest way to learn arabic 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.
How Can I Dive Into Reading Arabic Blogs?
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 how to learn arabic by yourself, 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 arabic. 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.
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