July 20, 2020

Arabic Alphabet —‏‎ Three Problems & Solutions

By: Max Maddocks

The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters – only two more than the English alphabet. So what makes the Arabic alphabet so difficult to learn for beginning Arabic students?

There are a number of reasons for this. I explain the three most common problems and show you how to overcome them.

Problem 1: Arabic letters are different

The most important reason is probably that the letters of the Arabic alphabet do not look anything like our letters. We have not been exposed to the intricate Arabic shapes before, so there is nothing stored in our brains with which to associate the letters. Many Arabic learners who just start out get increasingly frustrated as they try to memorize the shapes of some new Arabic letter just to discover that they have forgotten the shape of the Arabic letters they had learned before.

Solution:

You need to find something familiar that you can relate the new shapes and sounds to. I developed a method that does just that. In my book The Magic Key To The Arabic Alphabet I give you a memory image (mnemonic) for each of the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet that will help you remember those shapes and associate them with their sounds without need for rote learning.

Problem 2: Short vowels are not written

In the Arabic script the short vowels, such as “a”, “i”, and “u” are not usually written. So a word like “could” would be written as just “cd” and a word such as “think” would be “thnk”. This can cause a lot of problems, especially early on when you stil don’t know that many Arabic words. For example, the letters “ktb” could mean “he wrote” or “book”, depending on the missing short vowels.

Solution:

Start with familiar words first. Using the unique method in my book you will be writing English words using the Arabic alphabet letters first until you are completely comfortable with the Arabic script. Only then will I teach you how to write Arabic words. This way you will learn the Arabic alphabet much faster than with traditional methods.

Problem 3: Arabic letters change their shape

The Arabic letters change their shapes according to whether or not they are connected to adjoining letters. Sometimes the changes are so drastic that it seems that there is hardly any relationships between the two shapes. This can be extremely confusing.

Solution:

The key is to understand why the Arabic letters change their shapes when they are connected to adjoining letters. And contrary to what many Arabic teachers will have you believe, there really are logical reasons for why the shapes change. For example, the letter “meem” (م) has a very long “tail”. But, it would be difficult to connect “meem” to another letter on the left if the tail was kept. So it’s only logical that the tail would be cut to make it easier to join with the next letter. In my book I show you exactly how the shapes of the letters of the Arabic alphabet change and why.

Learning the Arabic alphabet is easy with the right method.

So, in conclusion, while the Arabic alphabet really does have its difficulties, I strongly believe that with the right method anyone can learn to read and write Arabic and master the Arabic alphabet. So, check out my book on the Arabic alphabet.


Max Maddocks

Hi there,
My name is Max Maddocks and I’m an enthusiast for all things Arabic. That includes language, culture and politics. I am the author of The Magic Key To The Arabic Alphabet, a course that makes learning the Arabic script extremely easy. Learn more about my books at my website.


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