Why is Arabic so hard to read?

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Learning to read in Arabic can be challenging. In this article, we will talk about the challenges. In addition, check our simple guides for learning how to read in Arabic.

Why is Arabic so hard to learn?

If you type in Google “Why is Arabic …”, the autocomplete will suggest these searches which people do.

Why is Arabic …

Indeed Arabic is important and beautiful but it can also be hard to learn. Let’s explore this further.

One of the reasons for the difficulty of Arabic is that the writing is “backwards”; i.e. its direction is from right to left. Therefore, if you want to learn Arabic, you will need to be able to read from right to left.

There are other challenges surrounding reading Arabic script, which are explained in the video here.

Why is reading Arabic Challenging?

In a nutshell, the challenges for reading Arabic are:

  • Direction of Writing (right-to-left)
  • Letters are attached together
  • Letters take different shapes depending on their position in a word (beginning, middle, end, or separate)
  • Diacritics which guide the pronunciation of Arabic letters

How to Read Arabic in English Letters?

An important consideration when learning Arabic is that not all Arabic letters have an equivalent English sound. That’s why there can be different ways to for writing Arabic in English/Latin letters, which is sometimes referred to as romanization. Apart from the more Academic ways of writing Arabic, a popular way is known as Franco-Arab, which is how the Arabic speaking internet generation started to write Arabic on computers and the internet in the early days before support to Arabic language was available. In this way of writing, the letters of Arabic with no English equivalent as written as numbers that resemble the shape of the Arabic letter. In Arabic, there are three letters mainly that are written as numbers:

  • Sixth letter of Arabic the alphabet (the letter ح) is written as 7
  • Eighteenth letter of the Arabic Alphabet (the letter ع) is written as 3
  • The letter hamzah ء (which isn’t usually a separate letter in the Aphabet) is written as 2

There are other letters, but these are the most popular ones. You will notice that we have combined challenges here, to know the letters, and to be able to recognize and produce their sound.

Therefore, in this lesson we are providing an intuitive way to learn the alphabet letters, with their names, shapes, sounds, along with examples of each.

More Arabic Reading Resources

There are many resources for learning Arabic reading by Champolu. You can also enroll in our Udemy Basic Arabic reading course, which explains the guide in more detail.

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