Risala: The Arabic Learner’s Weblog

March 22, 2007

The Amazing Automatic Arabic Verb Conjugator!!!

Acon Verb Conjugator


March 19, 2007

FlashcardExchange.com if you want Arabic Flashcards…here they are!!!

I’ll add more about my experience with this sight soon…however, i have finals this week…but i thought i’d go ahead and pass on this great resource!!!


March 4, 2007

My First Open Letter. . . . . Al-Jazeera On Training Wheels!!!

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يا أُسْتاذٌ ,

This is my first post to this blog, and as such, I would like to dedicate this spcieal post to a subject I have become quite passionate about—the Arabic language;-) This first post is directed toward both Arabic learners and those teaching the subject….but especially the latter.

It is clear that university level Modern Standard Arabic courses are geared toward preparing students to acquire language proficiency such that they may “read the newspaper” and consume other news media resources. Thus the standand text (Al-Kitaab by Karen Brustad) strongly emphasizes such content as reading examples. Reading an Arabic newspaper is an arduous task (probably even for 3rd year Arabic students) however it is precisely doing this on a daily basis that allows a student to maintain his/her active recall of vocabulary and further his/her understanding of common grammatical structures.

Due to the difficulty of just “picking up an Arabic newspaper” both online or offline, many students are unable to partake in this vital part of language learning (routine exposure to the language in its native form).

Please read this to the end or stop here, because the key to this idea isn’t unlocked unti…..”happily ever after.”

Use Google Translate. This is NOT to say that Google Translate can be considered a reliable translation tool by any means. On the contrary, all “Machine Translation” is highly unreliable and often riddled with error. However, mostly what a student needs when reading something like a newspaper is just a rough idea of what is going on (i.e. a reference vocabulary). This will allow the student to start “soaking up” the grammar, content, and novel vocabulary words right away, without the need for constantly referring to a clumsy hardcopy dictionary ten times in a row for an overkill definition.

Thus, if a student goes to this page and adds the——> Arabic to English <——just drag browser button link [yes, the one the arrows are pointing at] to his/her browser favorites toolbar then s/he can press this button while at any online news source (i say news because there is no point in reading non-MSA for our purposes here), and the page will be automatically machine translated.

Al-Jazeera on Training Wheels
Here is the key! After translating a page (such as http://www.bbcarabic.com) with the “Browser Translate Button” the following happens:

Not only is the page Machine Translated but Google also provides a very unique and useful FEATURE: when a the mouse cursor hover’s over any block of translated text such as a short paragraph or a link…..Google automatically hilights the block of text in light blue AND THEN A LITTLE WINDOW POPS UP (Web 2.0/java/ajax that sort of thing) and VOILA!!! sitting right there before the students eyes is THE ORIGINAL ARABIC (pre-translation) THAT GOES WITH THE CORRESPONDING HILIGHTED PARAGRAPH!!!

This allows the student to use the Machine Translated garbled English as a REFERENCE POINT/psuedo-vocabulary list etc. while reading the paper.

I have tried it and it is amazing!!!

Forget Arabic flashcards……Calkitaab.com is here!!!



Calkitaab.com puts Vocabulary Active Recall easily within the Arabic Learners Reach. . . . .

I have been using http://www.calkitaab.com a link which was provided throughout he Web CT course website and have found it to be an amazing resource. Its learning modules are incredible even if the site looks quite simple at first glance. I asked some classmates if they were using it and most of them had not hear of it or used it. So i thought if i conveyed to you my experience with it then maybe you could pass this on to the rest of the class (if y ou think it would benefit them as much as me).

First off, the site pays special attention to “active recall” which is great. As the student learns more and more words the site also will send s/he a daily email reminder of the “Daily Review” which is very helpful for vocabulary retention because the student does not have to “remember” which words to review the site takes on this responsibility.

Secondly, the website has audio for many of the words, which is helpful for pronunciation.


Thirdly, and this is an IMPORTANT ONE:-) the site keeps track of how well a student knows each word in its “familiarity index” of sorts. Which a student can reset at anytime for a particular word. Also, once a student has a certain minimum of words under his/her belt, thenthe site adds a “SENTENCE BUILDING MODULE” in which the student is given 3 words and asked to put them

into a sentence. After submittal the student receives a feedback message that tells them what is anything is wrong with their grammar etc. (ex gender agreement). As a student I highly recommend this website for vocabulary learning and retention…it makes it simple and almost fun to memorize vocabulary which is usually every students least favorite learning activity.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I found that the sentence building activity was especially helpful for vocabulary learning because it forced me to think of 3 specific words in context…and what better a context for memorization facilitation than one made up by the student him/herself that makes sense to them and is intuitive. I have a Mac so an arabic key-layout came with my computer…however even though most of the activities on the site do not require the Arabic typeset, its sentence building feature does, and the website provides adequate information for Windows users who would like to Arabicize their key-layout to use this feature.

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