Arabic vocab flashcards

I’m a big fan of flashcards as most of my students will know. I learnt my first two foreign languages slowly, writing endless lists of words which I never looked at again and therefore took forever to learn. With Arabic, I initially studied the language on an extremely intensive course where we had a vocab test on 50 new words a week. I would never have been able to take all that in without a very structured system of flashcards.

The best way for beginners, when you’re getting used to writing and reading Arabic as well as learning isolated words, is to chop up pieces of card and make your own. To start with you could have the English on one side and both the Arabic and the transliteration on the other. I would start testing only Arabic>English first, and then later on start testing yourself English>Arabic, which is harder. I recommend a system using envelopes: all words start in envelope 1, and when you can remember the meaning of the Arabic word, move it on to envelope 2. Then you might test yourself on English>Arabic, and if you still remember it, move it on to envelope 3, etc. After an intensive 15-month course of Arabic I had a huge box full of about 30 envelopes, and I knew a LOT of words!

If you find this too fiddly or a waste of paper, then you might prefer online flashcards or apps which you can use when you’re out and about on your smartphone. The best flashcard software uses a system called spaced repeition, where you test yourself more on the new words, and as they get more familiar you don’t need to view them quite so often. You can do this too with the envelope system above – test yourself on envelope 1 every day, but envelope 2 every other day and envelope 3 once a week, for example.

Here’s a few places to find ready-made Arabic vocab flashcards:

* Byki – 124 sets of Arabic cards so far, and best of all these cards include AUDIO! Lots of topic-based sets and some for al-Kitaab. This site is used by the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW)

* Iflipr – this is my favourite for its simplicity and was my initial excuse for getting an iphone! There’s a web version too and it’s very easy to upload your own lists from Excel. So far I’ve added GCSE vocab under various topics and others have added vocab for al-Kitab, Eastern Arabic, Rosetta Stone, 1st 1000 Words in Arabic…

* Flashcard Machine – absolutely masses of Arabic flashcards especially for al-Kitaab

* Quizlet – so far people have uploaded vocab from Alif Baa and al-Kitab

* Superflashcard – recommended by Deena; it has vocab sets for al-Kitaab and Madinah (I don’t know this textbook – yet!); sets are clearly structured unlike some of the above

* Anki – software to download, not sure how much Arabic is available so far

Please comment if you would like to recommend any other websites or downloadable programmes/apps which you use for learning vocabulary. I’d particularly like to know of any which include audio.

About Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Literary translator from Arabic, German and Russian into English
This entry was posted in Vocabulary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Arabic vocab flashcards

  1. deena.smith says:

    An excellent list! I would also like to add superflashcard to the list, especially the Arabic category. http://www.superflashcard.com/#!category=542877. I used Arabic flashcards on the site for my study and it helps a lot with premade cards. I also made flashcards myself. The thing I like about superflashcard is it allows me to study my flashcards on my android phone. It seems they have on other phones too but I only tried on android and it’s great help.

  2. Tressy says:

    Anki has the al-Kitaab vocabulary available.

  3. Waw I’m impressed with all the resources you use to help you memorise new vocab! I will definitely give a try to Space Repetitions and IFlipr. I am an Arabic lover too, desperate to practise it so I don’t forget!
    I wrote a post a few weeks ago about a similar topic: http://mhlanguagereviews.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/tip-to-boost-your-language-memory/. Hope you’ll like it!

  4. تمرد says:

    Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I
    just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading your articles.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that
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    • ruthahmedzai says:

      Thanks! I’m sorry I can’t update the blog more often, but there will be more content coming this summer when I have a bit more time. There are lots of links to websites on the right hand site under Useful Links. If it’s a blog you’re after, I can also recommend http://blogs.transparent.com/arabic/. Let me know if there’s anything specific you’re after.

  5. Sfez says:

    Hello ! I have just discovered your blog today. I’m an arabic learner. I begin to be quite advanced and I found that I’m very maniac about my vocabulary-learning system. I use a lot of small notebooks but as my vocabulary lists expand it is becoming more and more inconvenient. So I’m trying to find a simple online / iPhone / software tool that would allow me to sort MY vocabulary (not uploaded lists from others + I don’t use al-Kitab) and go through it efficiently (by category, both ways, etc.). I tried Anki but it’s quite complicated and the iPhone app costs 25 $ (!). Have you heard of anything that could do it ? Basically I just need to enter my words and then have a simple flashcard-type display.

    Thanks for your blog ! bye

    • ruthahmedzai says:

      Hi,
      Thanks for your comment. For simplicity I can really recommend iFlipr, though I haven’t used it for a while. There’s an iphone app or you can use the web version. It’s so easy to upload your lists of vocab. http://www.iflipr.com/

      The website I like best at the moment for making flashcards is Quizlet: http://quizlet.com/ It’s so easy to upload your vocab, and if the words are recognised on its database and have already had audio uploaded, then it automatically provides the audio for you to use. There are a couple of nice games as well as the straightforward flashcard function.

      Good luck!

      • Sfez says:

        Thanks ! Tried both and they are very useful. I dwelved into the very user-unfriendly interface and settings of Anki so now I figured out how to use it a little bit more efficiently. The main advantage is the “spaced repetition” algorithm it features (and there are quite a lot of uploaded decks too), but it is still too complicated. Bye

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