Arabic Vocabulary

Several years into my study of Arabic language, I looked back and analyzed my study of the language and how far I have come. That was when I found myself falling short in a lot of the various aspects of the language.

Vocabulary was one of them. I was doing surprisingly bad in acquiring new vocabulary, remembering them, and using them in context.

By the Grace of Allah, I was and am able to understand most grammar rules that I came across, and even to apply them while reading, speaking and writing. But, I realized, I know very little of the words that I can and should use to express myself in Arabic.

To solve this problem, I tried various different methods. One was getting a small notebook and writing down new words and their meanings. Didn’t work. I tried to memorize words right off the dictionary itself. You know, get the dictionary off the shelf, open at a random page, study the first few words, or even read from cover to cover (I tried this with some PDFs). Didn’t work.
It was not that these methods were unfruitful in and of themselves; I just couldn’t get myself to continue doing it. Perhaps I lacked motivation or something.

Then, I created a WhatApp group—which in Saudi is like Viber in the Maldives, you just don’t live without it—for improving Arabic vocabulary. Basically, I added some students of Arabic language to the group and asked them to post new words and their meanings as much as they can (2 words max daily, sorry), without all the gibberish and nonsense that happens in groups. I wrote a lengthy set of instructions and strict rules, and told anyone off if they posted anything other than a word and their meaning.

This proved to better than my previous methods, and the group is still ‘alive’, if you know what I mean, although I am the only one who posts even close to what you might call ‘regularly’. The ones I added hoping to benefit from them are, it seems, mostly benefiting from us. Perhaps it is better, when you think about it.

Despite the benefit from this group, I feel that this takes more of my time that I wish for. That is perhaps because I try a little harder to make the posts ‘attractive’, by ‘decorating’ them with colorful symbols and emoticons and stuff. I find that it is way easier to read and more likely to be read by others if I do this. This has another benefit, though. If I do this, it means that I have to spend a little more time playing around the word, and it helps me to memorize the word.

If anyone is interested, here is the link to the WhatsApp group, which has the strict rules I told you about (I posted these rules in this Reddit post). And here is the Telegram channel.

Sometime ago, I was in a taxi and the driver was talking to me about something which I didn’t understand at all, except that he was talking about increasing something or having a lot of something. I just kept nodding my head and saying ‘true! true!’. Now, when I remember the words he used back then, I realized that he was talking about how important it is to increase one’s vocabulary!



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