May 22, 2020

‎8 Memorization Tips to Make Arabic Vocabulary Stick‎

By: Basim Salim

Let’s face it. One of the major frustrations a student of Arabic faces is “how can I gain/retain all this ‎vocabulary”.‎

Remember that time you walked out of the classroom and were expected to memorize 40 new words? ‎Your teacher then called on you the next day to make a sentence using the words you were supposed to ‎have memorized and you totally blanked. You realized that simply being exposed to new words is just not ‎enough.‎

Part of any successful language learning is memorization and this is precisely why students needs to be ‎taught memorization techniques.‎

Following are the most effective tips that I’ve seen students use.‎

‎01. Flash Cards‎

Every language learner is familiar with flash cards. Students start with flash cards and by the end of a ‎semester there are hundreds of flash cards lying around the house. The reason why flash cards work is ‎because they force the student to recall the sight of the word and its meaning associated with it by ‎constant repetition. ‎
The downside to flash cards however is that although you might be able to recall the word by sight, you ‎might not recognize it by listening.‎

‎02. Hear & Associate‎

Memorization works best when the word being memorized is associated with something your mind ‎already recognizes. When you first hear a word, the first thing to do is to make sure one has heard its ‎correct pronunciation by having the word repeated to oneself a second and third time. Then, repeat the ‎word to yourself a few times out loud or internally to ensure mastery. Don’t stop there. Associate the word ‎to the context in which it was used. It’s simply not enough to know what a word means in Arabic if one ‎does not know what context it was used. Associating words to a context will provide the skills for one to ‎use these words appropriately.‎

‎03. Make Your own phrases and sentences

When coming across a new word, in addition to writing down its translation write down a phrase in which ‎the word is used. This helpsput the new wordsinto practice and provides context for the word for a deeper ‎understanding. If one is unable to get a particular word to stick then use that word in as many sentences ‎as possible until it sticks.‎

‎04. Read, Read, Read!‎

There is no better way to expand one’s vocabulary than by reading. Start with materials appropriate to ‎your level. If you’re a beginner, start with small children stories, short blog posts, quotes or social media ‎posts on Facebook or Twitter. Once you’re comfortable with this, move to longer materials like magazine ‎articles, newspapers and books. The key is to expose oneself to multiple words used in different contexts ‎in order to expand the word’s usability. Make it a point to write down new vocabulary when encountering ‎them and then apply the techniques above.‎

0‎5. Use Onomatopoeia to Remember‎

There are some words in the Arabic language that sound like its meaning. For example the word ?? ‎means to cut or to split. When this word is pronounced one can hear that is has a sound as if something is ‎being cut or split. When you come across a word, ask yourself whether the word in Arabic sounds like ‎what the word actually means. Visualizing words with their meanings can create a deeper understanding ‎of the word and helps the word being imprinted in your head.‎

‎06. Use Cognates‎

Cognates are two words in different languages that share similar meaning in spelling and pronunciation. ‎Believe it or not, there are words in the English language that take their origin in the Arabic language. The ‎word ??? qutn | qutun, means cotton. They don’t sound exactly the same, but similar enough for one to see ‎the connection. Furthermore, these techniques are more beneficial for modern words in the Arabic ‎language that take their origin in the English language such as the word ??????, which means mobile.‎

0‎7. Straight Repetition‎

This isn’t everyone most favorite technique, but it works. People have been doing this method to commit ‎words, facts, and whole books to memory for centuries. It comes in handy when trying to memorize hard ‎to remember words you encounter in your readings. In addition, frequent repetition allows your mind to ‎form an auditory familiarity in your mind making it easy for you to remember and recall it when you need ‎it later.‎

0‎8. Review Often‎

Last but not least, when memorizing vocabulary remember that yesterday’s vocabulary is more important ‎than today’s. The goal is to transfer the new vocabulary from your short-term memory to your long-term ‎memory. Review is essential – in the first few days or weeks after learning new vocabulary recycle those ‎words continuously in order to ingrain them into your memory.‎

These are just a few of the memorization tips that we found common amongst students. Do you have any ‎others to add? Let us know in the comments.‎


Basim Salim

Haytham Ibrahim, Prof. is a highly qualified Arabic language lecturer. He is an expert in TAFL (Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language.) Maybe — If you are interested in learning Arabic Language — You have come across his name before. Know more about Haytham from his official website.

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