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Is typing in Arabic as hard as I'm making it out to be?

To keep it simple, I'd like to start using the keyboard (on mobile) to type my answers instead of using the boxes. When it loads up, I almost don't even know where to start with forming complete words. Hopefully my issue makes sense :)

July 29, 2019



I don't know about Arabic, but I learned tot type in Hebrew and Devanagari (Hindi). I used resources other than Duo to learn it, though. It is really worth the effort, because you start hearing the different sounds much better if you use the script the language is written in.

Hint: if you use a qwerty keyboard, the sounds that are approximately the same will be in the same place.

So ' ल ' (Devanagari) and 'ל' (Hebrew) are the same key as 'l'. Same for 'm' => 'מ' (Hebrew) => 'म ' (Devanagari) etc. I guess that would be the case in Arabic too.


I keep a little map of where which letter is next to my keyboard. The more I type, the less I need to look at it, so I expect I'll be able to type without my map sooner or later.


I do all languages on my desktop EXCEPT Arabic, because my phone has a convenient Arabic keyboard. That makes things a lot easier.


I have a keyboard app I'm really liking (I use android, not sure if it's available for apple): MessagEase.


~easy to switch between keyboards (english, arabic, japanese, custom, etc)

~designed for typing with one thumb

~layout based on letter frequency, so the learning curve in arabic, for example, is remarkably quick

~thorough guidance and support to easily figure out all the cool features & customizations

~easy to customize colors, orientation, size, languages

~predictive text is less sophisticated than google's, so you have more opportunity to figure out the answer on your own without your keyboard offering exactly the kind of clues you were trying to avoid by using the keyboard instead of the wordbank to begin with


~not remotely similar to querty, so it takes a while to get back up to speed in english

~does not play with other keyboard apps: if you want to use messagease for arabic and google keyboard for english, you'll have to go into your phone's settings each time to switch (switching between the in-app keyboards is a mere thumb swipe, tho)

~if your typing style relies heavily on swyping, you'll hate this keyboard app: swype isn't an option. I'm mainly a tap-typer, so it was perfect for me. (swyping is how you get to different letters/characters on the nine-key keyboard, so you can't swype whole words)

~the predictive text does a great job coming up with options for how to finish the word you just started typing, but it isn't adaptive (it never learns which words you're more likely to use), it doesn't even bother to guess which word you want next until you enter the first 2 letters of the word, and its predictions assume zero typos (if you want to write "fantastic" but accidentally start with "&antast..." it will assume the "&" was intentional and won't offer to autocomplete with fantastic )

~you have to install a different add on app for each language to get the predictive text. This isn't a big deal, but it is an extra step during set up

MessagEase bottom line: As a tap-typer, I really like how easy it is to hold my phone in one hand and type out my duolingo answers in whatever language I'm studying.


You must use the Arabic Phonetic Keyboard, it matches as much as it can the QWERTY on your keyboard.

Use this: http://arabic.omaralzabir.com/home


Also, from how I understand your question, some suggestions?

~ if you have an arabic keyboard up, but your mind goes blank so you can't even guess the first word: switch back to wordbank, look at the tile you think is the first word for how it's spelled, switch back to keyboard and type the word. Repeat as many times as needed to feel comfortable getting started typing in arabic.

~ ignore the xp (I'm not on the Health system, this advice may not apply if you are): get comfortable getting things wrong, repeatedly, as you guess and fumble around until you fumble enough that things start clicking

~ if your concern is how to loop the letters together to make a whole word, don't worry about that: the phone will loop them t appropriately as you go

~duolingo (and many other english-based apps) aren't built to natively accommodate right-to-left. The typing interface will look a bit more awkward when you're using the arabic keyboard (even more so if you're switching back and forth your text direction in one textbox). Don't worry, it's not you. It's a bit awkward for everyone.

If I'm not getting at what you are looking for, let me know a little more about what you need and I'll try again.

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