Whether you’re learning Arabic for beginners or a seasoned professional at trying to learn Arabic language skills, no doubt, learning Arabic vocabulary is one of your top goals in getting to know the language. In fact, some of you are probably quite good at learning new words, while the rest of you may be frustrated with just trying to remember some of the basic words in Arabic. But why is it harder for some to learn and remember new words and how can we make it easier for them to learn Arabic vocabulary? These are the questions we will address in this article.
We now live in the era of human history known as the information age where we are bombarded by more information entering our brains than at any other point in history. However, our brains do not have the capacity to take in all the information we take in every day. Rather, our brains tend to remember information that is important to us and discard what they deem unimportant.
Think of it this way: Your brain works much like a computer when it takes in information, but what would happen if you entered every piece of information from every minute of your waking life into your laptop? First, even with gigabytes of storage space, your laptop would become full very quickly. Then, when you wanted to retrieve certain important information from your laptop, it would take a long time to search through the dozens and dozens of other unimportant files to get to that information. Eventually, you’d have to search the internet for one of those system cleaners to weed out the junk files. Our brains, therefore, acts as a kind of a preventative maintenance system cleaner, keeping the files we need and discarding what we don’t need.
Furthermore, forgetting Arabic words doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a bad memory either as everyone’s brain has this great capacity for learning and retaining information. However, most of us don’t know how to use it to its full capability. In fact, forgetting new Arabic vocabulary, therefore, may just actually be just the brains natural way of helping us to remember them in the end.
Let me explain.
Many of you have probably heard of a learning curve, but did you know that there is also a thing known as the forgetting curve? The forgetting curve is a famous graph that theorizes that, over time, memory declines and information is lost when you don’t try to retain it. It’s kind of like that old adage “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”. For example, you may learn the word “jisr” (bridge) in a lecture on Arabic vocabulary for cities and buildings; however, if you do not try to use the word (or at least review the word later) your brain will regard it as unimportant and you’ll forget it.
Improving Your Ability to Learn Arabic Vocabulary
So, now that we know that forgetting is sometimes the brain’s way of helping us to remember, how do we use that to our advantage?
Think of your brain as a muscle. The more you work it out the stronger it gets and like working out your biceps, you need to work out your brain continuously every day. Doing so will have a cumulative effect that will help increase your memory without putting in much effort.
There are, however, other key factors that can help increase your memory and help you remember Arabic vocabulary easier. Here are a few:
You Have to Want It
If you want to improve you the way you recognize and remember new Arabic words, you have to be interested and passionate about learning the Arabic language. Having these two things will motivate you to learn more. Being passionate also will help you remember because emotions enhance memory, so keep thinking about all of the good things like new friends, better work possibilities, or whatever your motivation is for learning the language.
The key to learning Arabic vocabulary is concentration and focus. So, in order to focus on learning new words in Arabic, you have to protect yourself from the constant barrage of information by turning off your music, television, YouTube videos, mobile phones and all other things that may potentially distract you. This will help rapidly increase the number of Arabic words you can remember.
Have a Complete Understanding of the Word
If you do not fully comprehend the words you are trying to learn, you’re not likely going to remember them at all. When you are trying to learn new words in Arabic and use them in a sentence, understand exactly what their grammar usage is (noun, subject, verb, adjective, and so on). If you understand the meaning of a word and where it fits in a sentence, you’re more likely to remember that word.
Use Image Association and other Mnemonic Devices
While you want to learn to speak Arabic or learn to read Arabic quickly, you first have to remember the words and this can be done through the use of mnemonic devices – those little tricks that help you associate the word with another word or image.
Linking a word to an image is called visualization. For example, you can imagine a beautiful Arabic girl named “Jameela” because jameela means “beautiful” in English. Likewise, a handsome man can be visually linked to the name “Jameel”, as this means “handsome” in English.
You probably know of other mnemonic devices such as rhymes and songs. Think of how you learned your “ABCs” through singing them as a small child. You can do the same by making up your own songs to help you learn Arabic alphabet letters, Arabic numbers or Arabic vocabulary. Think of Old MacDonald and his farm and substitute the English word for the Arabic one – “and on his farm he had a kalb (dog)… with a ‘bow-wow’ here and a ‘bow-wow’ there…” Be creative and use what works best for you!
So, there you have it. Remember that forgetting is just one way to help you learn Arabic vocabulary.
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