Congratulations! You've decided to embark on the grand adventure of learning the Arabic language.
Perhaps you're taking foreign language classes at school or at home with a Modern Arabic private tutor or even trying to learn Arabic online so that one day you'll be able to communicate with the more than 300 million Arabic speakers across the planet.
There's no secret to refining your oral expression, pronunciation, Arabic grammar, and phonetics. To perfectly master oral and written Arabic, you're going to have to work hard!
You will however find lots of tips for learning Arabic online which can help you out.
As you know, the Arabic alphabet is completely different from the English alphabet.
In this digital age, it makes sense to use an Arabic keyboard on your computer to learn Arabic online or to communicate with an Arabic-speaking colleague or friend.
Our tips for transforming your qwerty keyboard into an Arabic keyboard are right at your fingertips. Just follow our lead!
What Are the Benefits of Downloading an Arabic Keyboard?
At first glance, becoming fluent in Arabic seems a bit more complicated than European languages, such as German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, due to it having less in common with English.
In certain ways this is true (alphabet, reading, pronunciation), however learning Arabic is much easier than learning other modern Indo-European languages.
- Arabic sounds and syllables are easily reproduced.
- Over the centuries, Arabic vocabulary has been standardized, going from literary Arabic to dialectical Arabic to the Modern Standard Arabic that we know today.
- Arabic conjugation has only two tenses, the past and the "not past".
- English already uses the Arabic numeral system.
- A quick glance at a map of the Arab world shows that different country names are derived from Arabic words.
- Arabic adjective declensions are rather intuitive, etc.
Numerous aspects of learning Arabic are easy for English-speaking students to grasp.
At the same time, there will be some difficulties to overcome (but, challenging yourself builds character, right?). Spoken and Arabic is very different from written Arabic.
So, while learning the rudiments of spoken Arabic will, of course, require a certain effort, learning to write Arabic will require twice the effort.
As with learning any language that doesn't use the Latin alphabet (Russian, Farsi, Urdu, Hebrew, Persian, Korean etc.), your first step will be to learn the Arabic alphabet.
The Arabic alphabet contains 28 letters and follows a special sequence called "abjad". Interestingly, the Arabic writing system is composed solely of consonants.
As for vowels, language learners must reconstitute them using their knowledge of spoken Arabic.
Vowels are only slightly indicated in written Arabic. You're most likely to see vowel sounds indicated in teaching or religious texts.
The /a/, /i/, and /u/ are made with specific vocalizations.
This particular aspect of the Arabic alphabet could make understanding an isolated word somewhat complex. Pay attention to how the term is expressed within the context of the sentence.
Bonus: For a bit more of a challenge, each letter of the Arabic alphabet has 3 declensions according to its location in the word (beginning, middle, or end).
Proficiency with the Arabic alphabet will be your first goal while learning the language of Ismael.
To communicate with other Arabic speakers, or just impress your Arabic tutor, why not install a virtual keyboard on your computer?
Understanding the Arabic alphabet will also help you learn to read and write Arabic and, if desired, become familiar with the tajwid, a set of rules governing the way in which verses in the Quran should be pronounced during its recitation.
Writing in Arabic: Two Ways to Use the Arabic Alphabet on Your PC
Standard qwerty computer keyboards don't allow for writing in just any language that we wish.
For example, you can forget about typing inverted punctuation marks or a tilde in Spanish without resorting to keyboard shortcuts.
Just imagine trying to type characters of the Arabic alphabet!
There are two ways to write in Arabic letters without having to memorize the location of each Arabic letter and character on a qwerty keyboard or putting little stickers all over the keys.
Change Your Computer's System Language
Changing the system language on your computer will let you use the keyboard to write in Arabic, without changing the keyboard itself. In other words, the keyboard layout will stay the same, and the standard keyboard format will be preserved.
For Windows, follow these steps.
- Go to the control panel.
- Choose "region and language".
- Open the "keyboards and languages" tab.
- Click on "change keyboard". A list of all available languages for your computer will appear. Simply choose your preferred Arabic language and return to the top of the list. Be aware that there are slight differences between Arabic dialects. Make sure you choose correctly.
Important: This procedure will install Arabic as the default language on all of the programs on your computer. If you only use the Arabic language occasionally for certain programs, do the following:
- Open the program in question.
- Go to the language shortcut in the lower right-hand corner of your screen (next to the time) and choose Arabic.
Another option for getting an Arabic keyboard is to purchase a keyboard that has both Arabic and Latin characters printed on the keys.
Additionally, software is available for Windows devices that allows you to easily write in Arabic by downloading virtual keyboards. There is no need to reconfigure your computer.
Choose the language-learning method that fits your needs!
Use an Arabic-English Translator and the Copy-Paste Functions
A second way to be able to write in Arabic is to use a translator and copy-paste the results.
Try an online translator like Google Translate or install a program, like MultiTranse, onto your computer.
These are great for translating a single word or short Arabic expression.
But, using such translators for more complex translations could become labor-intensive and inefficient.
Repeatedly copying and pasting can quickly become tedious.
In the end, this method is most useful when translating between Arabic text and English text once in a while and for translating a word or two at a time.
How to Install an Arabic Keyboard on a Mac
Would you like to learn Arabic using your Apple device?
As on a PC, Apple computers can be configured to provide you with an Arabic keyboard. The necessary changes are just as quick and easy.
Using an Arabic keyboard is the ideal method for learning how to write in Arabic.
- Go to the Apple menu. Choose "system preferences".
- In the dialog that opens, click on "keyboard".
- Open the tab labeled "input methods". Click on the "+" at the lower left.
- Find "Arabic" in the list of available foreign languages.
- Lastly, check the box next to "activate keyboard shortcuts".
As with Windows, arrange to use the Arabic alphabet keyboard according to your needs.
On the desktop:
- Click in the upper right-hand corner to show the keyboards that are available on your Mac.
- Choose the language you need for the current task.
More helpful options: You can display the keyboard on your screen. This is an excellent way to teach your brain to visually retain Arabic characters and letters.
You can also take advantage of online Arabic-English translators. Simply copy and paste the results. However, this method is not always recommended.
Bonus: Add an Arabic Keyboard to Your iPhone!
Would you like to learn the Arabic language using smartphone and tablet applications?
Having an Arabic keyboard on your device could certainly make your life easier!
Today, learning a new language via your smartphone is totally possible.
Many online Arabic courses are available. Applications that teach foreign languages are also easy to find, and apps for learning Arabic are no exception.
Check out the following apps:
- Arabic by Nemo
- 6,000 words (for Arabic)
- Arabic Alphabet
- online lessons from a local teacher
Discovering the richness of the Arabic language with an application can be fun and educational.
Your first reflex may be to go directly to the Apple Store to look for an appropriate application.
And, though you may find several, like Free Arabic Keyboard for example, there is another simpler and more ergonomic method.
As with your computer, you can add or change the system language.
This method allows you to easily type in Arabic online without having to install an Arabic keyboard. You can use your usual computer keyboard or mouse to type Arabic script using this online keyboard.
The iPhone operating system includes 40 languages, including Arabic. Follow this procedure to change the system language.
- Go to "settings". Choose "general".
- Select "keyboard".
- At the bottom of the page, choose "international keyboards" (the number on the tab represents the number of keyboards already activated).
- Look for your preferred language (Arabic). Then, activate.
Now, you can take notes using the Arabic alphabet whenever you like.
One advantage of this method is the ability of easily switch between activated keyboards whenever you're writing in English or Arabic.
Just click on the "world map" logo in the at the bottom left-hand side of the keyboard to choose your language.
- Learning to read and write Modern Standard Arabic
- Practicing written language comprehension
- Memorizing the letters and characters of the Arabic alphabet
- Communicating with residents of Arabic-speaking countries
- Translating Arabic expressions, Arabic words and Arabic phrases while traveling in the Arab world
When learning the Arabic language, you'll see you can't do without your Arabic keyboard. No 21st-century Arabophile could!