Help for a newbie getting started from someone who speaks Arabic, please!

Hi there!

I am still on Alphabet 3 in DL, so my MSA knowledge consists of some sounds and the word for "and".

Are there any Arabic children's alphabet/reading videos/games that you can recommend? I am thinking along the lines of English-speaking games and toys that will do, "The A says 'ah'! The B says 'buh'!" or YouTube videos that sing through, "D! Duh-duh-Dog! E! Eh-eh-Elephant!" while showing the writing on the screen. DL isn't teaching me the names of the letters and I'd like to associate names and sounds and shapes all together.

Also, due to my impatience with still knowing only one word after a couple weeks of practice (plus wanting something with speech recognition), I started on Rocket Arabic (which teaches Egyptian dialect). It's doing the opposite of DL and only speaking/listening without learning any writing yet. The conceit of all of their lessons so far is a male American Arabic learner talking to a female Egyptian native Arabic speaker. They often forget to tell us how to reverse things. Unfortunately, I am a female and need to speak to males 90+% of the time. For example, they taught us, "ana mish fAhim" for "I don't understand". I would love to know how to say that as a female if someone could tell me. It is a very important phrase! Plus Google translate doesn't seem to function as well for English -> Arabic as it does for, say, English -> Spanish. In the meantime, would I at least make sense if I speak mis-gendered? Will I offend people if I use the wrong gender speaking to them? I know it'll sound funny, but if it gets the point across without upsetting anyone, it gets the point across for now.

Thank you so much!

July 15, 2019


it is ok if you use wrong gender for beginner. don't put too much pressure on yourself. just try to get acquainted with how the language is for now. all the other problems will soon fade when your levels go up. just try learning the alphabet and levels will suffice for now.

also this may be useful:

July 15, 2019

Oh, bless you, I had been googling away trying to find something like that link!

July 15, 2019

I have been using “write it” from hernung.

Maha has a great youtube channel. Check out her “learn to read and wtite arabic in 6 lessons” series

There is also a good arabicpod 101 site that’s got lessons

July 15, 2019

The YouTube channel looks helpful. If nothing else, hearing another speaker is helpful!

July 15, 2019

if you like to study further more just exercise this :

and try more with Duo


July 15, 2019

Ha, yeah, I am. I got crown level 5 on Alphabet 1 and Alphabet 2 and working onto crown level 3 in Alphabet 3. It's just...I feel like I don't learn well this way. -_-

July 15, 2019

You should do what you want to do & if you wish to repeat the first lessons (again & again), as you say in this post & shown on your Duome, go ahead. But i do hope you've learned that Duolingo has another idea on how you could use their services.

It's a pity in my eyes that not enough people know about the Duolingo blog(& the stories & the podcasts & the dictonary & tinycards even.) People who use the app have even less chance of seeing all the helpful things that Duo puts out there...

Seeing your streak i think you might know these, but maybe you missed one of them, or that blog how one could learn with Duo. If you are already aware, i hope it might help someone else...


July 16, 2019

My personal issue is more that they're teaching sounds and putting them into what I have to assume are words? And not telling us what those words mean. It'd be more meaningful if they did. Damned if I know if "ku" and "buuj" and "raaj" mean anything at all or if they're just noise. I'd love to know if I was picking up "sight words" as opposed to just deciphering sounds. They don't teach us the names of any of the letters, which makes it hard to understand when people talk about the language on forums using the letters...or to spell. (And I can't even say "hello" yet short of using another program, which I find irksome.)

I completed (repeatedly because they kept changing them!) the English -> Spanish and Spanish -> English courses at 5 crowns for every lesson and finished all the stories.

I've used Tinycards for German only. I knew too much Spanish for them to be useful and too little Arabic yet to even look at them. I've used the Stories in Spanish only, as I don't know enough of any other language to use them yet. The dictionary was fine in Spanish and German...but we aren't using any words but "and" in Arabic yet, so that kind of defeats the dictionary.

I don't feel like I can skip much in Arabic until I know the alphabet since the course is not taught with it's not like I can skip to a part that uses any letters I don't know yet. -_-

I was told there is NO speaking or writing into DL yet, and I had to seek those elsewhere. So I did. I really need the speaking early on in my learning or I'll learn bad habits/incorrect pronunciations that are hard to unlearn.

I know it's in beta. It's not done yet. But that's why I'm seeking other things.

July 16, 2019

In case other people learn similar to the way I do, this is the best video I've found: The writing is a little hard to read in the "cartoony" font they use, but the letter -> sound -> word progression is fantastic.

July 16, 2019

Quick tip on the gender thing: for adjectives if you add a teh marbuta at the end it's feminine, and if a noun has a teh marbuta at the end it's feminine (there may be exceptions I'm not thinking of but I don't believe there are). So zouj (husband) becomes zouja (wife) with a teh marbuta at the end. For adjectives, taben (tired, masculine) becomes tabena (tired, feminine). So Ana zouj taben would be "I am a tired husband" and Ana zouja tabena would be "I am a tired wife".

July 15, 2019

The trouble on figuring out the "understand" part was me thinking it should be a verb like English and not essentially an adjective as it is in Arabic or I might have figured out on my own what to do with it. (Emphasis on "might".) Verbs don't seem to follow a clear-cut pattern, though obviously I've not learned enough and simply may not have seen it yet if there is one. Fortunately one of the YT channels someone else showed me earlier in the thread went through explaining the quirkiness of "understand" for me. ^_^

July 15, 2019

Well, I'm pretty sure there are stuff like that on youtube (i would have looked myself if I had the time now - at work). For that Egyptian phrase, a female speaking about herself (I do not understand) that would (ana mish fahma); sometimes "mish" becomes "mosh" in their dialect. Depends on person speaking I guess. Ironically, in standard Arabic, whether you are male or female saying (i don't understand) is all one phrase regardless of the gender of the speaker: 1. I don't understand: لا أفهم (lá afham). 2. I didn't understand: لم أفهم (lam afham). 3. I won't understand: لن أفهم (lan afham).

Meanwhile, there is no translation engine that works for Arabic perfectly because of its flexibility in changing positions but you can get good grip on the meaning with Google Translate. Also, this website has some good dictionary for Arabic to and from other languages: (I use it specially for technical and scientific terms); However, it's only a dictionary and not a translation engine.

Good luck!

July 15, 2019

Thanks, I'll check out the link! I've been having trouble because even looking up something like a noun all on its lonesome (say, "coffee") will return 8 different words and none of them are the one I already learned. XD

The trouble on figuring out the "understand" part was me thinking it should be a verb like English and not essentially an adjective as it is in Arabic or I might have figured out on my own what to do with it. (Emphasis on "might".) Fortunately one of the YT channels someone else showed me went through explaining it.

July 15, 2019

As I went through many languages (not necessarily learning them), I can tell that having many words to mean one word in one language and vice versa is really common and natural. This is because a language, any language, is a container of culture. When you learn a language, you are actually learning the thought and the history of culture. Take the verb (Caith) in Irish for example; It means "to smoke," "to throw," "to wear," and also used in expressions of (must) or (should). Why and how that happened, that's beyond me.

About that Egyptian phrase, the thing is that in that expression (which might be common in Egypt, and elsewhere) is that they didn't use a direct "verb" in explaining the status of (understanding). They used a subject-noun, or as we call it in Arabic (Ism Faa3il: اسم فاعل); You can think of it as a verbal noun but it is not exactly like that because "Ism Faa3il" can also fit in other categories when translated into English, like for example the "-er" which is used in English for persons of specific action or activity. Don't want to delve deeper, but there is a systematic way of deriving such a noun from a verb depending whether the verb is 3-letter verb or more than that. The noun (Fáhim) or (Fáhmah) -note that some Egyptian say it with short "a" instead of "á"- is derived from the verb (faham: فهم) - he understood/to understand (No infinitive case in Arabic verbs).

July 15, 2019

Ha, yes, I understand that. I've learned other languages before and got a minor in linguistics in undergrad. I'm just so early on in this one still and haven't been taught any formal grammar yet. So I really need to hear both examples until there are lessons for the grammar to figure it out on my own! ^_^ It'll get easier over time, but until I get there I need a little help sometimes.

(Also I finally found out that the Egyptian dialect tends to "omit" the "q" sound on things a lot of the time so that was why I couldn't ever find the "ahwa" they were giving me since the closest thing in dictionaries is more like "qahwa"! New things every day, honest! XD)

July 16, 2019

Oh yes! This Q change into a glottal stop is frustrating even for us (and sometimes a cause for laughter really). This change is also noticeable in the dialects of the Levant, and STRANGELY, in Maltese (to me, Maltese is an Arabic dialect with Italian flavor). In Maltese they write "Q" but say it as "A" as in Qala (town's name originally coming from the word قلعة - Qal3a in Arabic, meaning Castle) - they would say it as Aala. I remember though someone there told me that people in the rural areas in the west of Malta still have more Arabic words in their dialect and they would say the Q as it originally is in Arabic - ق.

Beside this change though, you might have more challenges to come (like the sound of J which gets into G for Egyptians and as ZH for the Levant), as well as a change in the vowels (from A to Ai or even i).

Good luck exploring!

July 16, 2019

Yes! I have had the G/J issue, too! It's so funny in my course, because it is TEACHING Egyptian specifically, all the examples are dropping "q" and using a hard "g" but then if I copy them exactly it marks me wrong in the speech recognition. I get very frustrated, look up what I could possibly be doing wrong by trying to find examples of others speaking... And lo and behold what it accepts is to replace the "q" sound and to use the softer "j"! It's good for me to know these things but sure confuses my "ear" for speaking like the people I'm supposed to emulate in the program. XD The "j" thing was easier for me to figure out because I have learned that sound already on DL and was seeing all of these "j" things in the Arabic script for what I was saying. Once I've learned the whole alphabet I imagine I will be better able to correct these issues without the internet search. XD

July 16, 2019

By the way, even soft (J) is not the correct way to say (ج). That would be simply (J) as in Jacket in English. The soft J is spoken in the Levant and maybe in the dialects of North Africa. But the proper ج is the one used to read Quran, in Arabia, which is exactly like (J) in Jacket.

Egyptians also have a problem differentiating between (ذ) and (ز) sometimes because in their dialect it's all (Z). Some of them type or write (زلك) instead of (ذلك) and so on. My bro was a graphical designer once and he had many problems with co-workers because they couldn't type proper Arabic.

July 16, 2019
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