Through several blog-posts, I will share with you tips and resources to practice Arabic in your daily life with your children. I used them when I started to raise my daughter in Arabic 4 years ago (she was a baby). And I am still using some of them. Some are for you and some are for your kids as well. I focus on tips and resources for young kids (under 7 years old) because this is the experience I have, but I think several tips can be used with older children or you can adapt them according to their age.
If you just discovered my blog at Arabic Seeds, I recommend you read these 2 previous blog-posts:
How mostly raising my child in Arabic boosted my own learning. (my testimony to motivate you, especially if you are a non-native Arabic speaker like me ^^! Also find the Arabic books I used to learn Arabic and start to speak it)
Early Arabic Language Teaching Approach (to know more about how children effectively learn a second language)
Two tips before to start:
1) Start little by little, particularly if you are a non-native speaker. Practicing Arabic in your daily life at little “doses” is better than starting big and then giving up (and of course it’s better than never starting ^^).
When I started to use Arabic with my baby (especially when I started to speak it), it was with only words and very basics sentences. I was a beginner and it took me some time to reach a certain level of fluency.
Remember the tale of the rabbit and the turtle : the rabbit ran so fast at the beginning of the race that he felt tired, stopped and felt asleep. However, the turtle was walking step by step, little by little without stopping. And at the end, she won ^^.
2) Involve the whole family in your Arabic learning journey!
As a parent, you are an example for your kids. Show them your interest in Arabic, show them your efforts to learn it (if you are a non-native speaker).
If your children are enough old, you can explain (re-explain) why it’s important for you/them to learn and practice Arabic.
And you can also tell them that you are the “Arabic learning team”, helping each other to acquire more Arabic every day. Explain them that this challenge is a “long term” challenge but if everyone cooperates it will be easier.
Congratulate or reward your kids when they progress, when they help you to remember words or correct each other. I sometimes ask my daughter for a word I forgot, and sometimes she corrects me spontaneously as well ^^ (a mother of a 5 year old girl I teach Arabic, told me that her daughter started to do the same! Children have a better memory than us right?! ).
So now I will give you my tips and resources to integrate more Arabic in your daily life with your kids . Since we need to practice the 4 skills of a language in order to acquire it (reading, listening, writing, speaking), I classed the tips and resources by skill but remember that they are inter-dependent. In this part 1, I provide tips to practice your Arabic Reading skill with many tips especially for non-native Arabic speakers.
Tips and Resources to practice your Arabic Reading skill:
1) Read aloud to your child regularly:
Read aloud Arabic Children Books and printed Resources, as soon as your little one show an interest in this activity. I started when my child was baby, everyday before the nap or the night. She enjoys it. It became our ritual.
If it’s not every day, do it regularly, several times per week (we sometimes read books in French and English according to our personal needs and familial situation).
I think it is essential to make our kids naturally love reading from an early age. And it is even more important if you raise bilingual/multilingual kids. If you are a non-native speaker, reading aloud to your children will help you a lot in your own learning: Arabic vocabulary & grammar development and Arabic speaking improvement!
2) Which Arabic children books/resources to read?
If your child is a baby/toddler, start with pictures-words books/resources and those with simple sentences. At this very young age, they explore their environment and their interest is based on everyday life’s things. Resources describing the world around us are great (for example, about seasons, about the city, about the family, about animals).
As your little one grows, you can read Arabic Stories. Especially at the preschool age (around 3 years old), they become very imaginative and have a big interest in stories. Stories are particularly great to expose them to more Arabic grammar, particularly to times other than the present time generally used in describing books (past time, future etc…). If you want to add more fun use different voice intonations, different voices according to the characters and some gestures too.
If you start to practice Arabic with an older child, I think you can use the same books/resources as long as they are interested in them.
Note: For printed resources (as shown in the picture above at the top, on the right) I laminate and bind them and use flexible presentation books for the A4 sized printables. You can also use binders.
3) Six precious tips for non-native Arabic speakers:
1) If you don’t know how to read Arabic yet, I encourage you to start/pursue your efforts. It can be overwhelming to learn the Arabic alphabet but it’s worth.
Don’t rely on the transliterations (Arabic text written with English alphabet). There is the risk you will always depend on it and don’t force you to really learn Arabic reading. My personal experience also makes me think that transliteration is misleading. They can contain mistakes and they can’t give you right sound of some Arabic letters.
That’s why, we don’t use the transliteration in our resources at Arabic Seeds but we prefer to provide their Audios, so it helps you to read and you can listen to the right pronunciation.
2) When reading, it’s OK if you and your child don’t understand every word and every sentence! Believe me!
At the beginning, you may understand a small percentage of the book. You can search for some words on a dictionary to help you. But if you practice Arabic regularly, day after day, you will surely enhance your learning and increase your vocabulary. So when you will read again these books (maybe a few weeks or a few months later), you will notice that you understand more! Kids love to read the same books several times – right?! – enjoy this because it is very useful for their/your learning journey!
It’s also OK if you hesitate and don’t read fluently at first. If you read regularly and practice your listening and speaking skills as well (tips coming in following blog-posts), you will improve as you go!
3) Choose books/resources with all the “vowels” (“harakats”) in the Arabic text. Many books are designed with native-speaking parents in mind. If you buy online and can’t see well the inside pages of the book, don’t hesitate to contact the seller and ask him. At worst, you can ask a native-speaker or an Arabic teacher to add the vowels for you.
4) Also check if you are able to read the Arabic Font used in the book/resource. I struggle to read some Arabic fonts, the form of some letters are really different.
5) You can choose Dual Language Books/resources (with another language than Arabic). Be aware that:
– the translation may be approximate.
– for the majority of these books (designed in non-Arabic-speaking countries) you will have to open them from left to right (the opposite of the Arabic books).
6) I know that when you live in a non-Arabic-speaking country, it is sometimes difficult to find good Arabic children books. Do your best to select quality books. I sometimes find books/resources with Arabic grammar mistakes or with a mix of dialect/classical Arabic. This is one of the reasons that makes us create our own resources at Arabic Seeds!
4) Where to find Arabic children books/resources?
I bought/buy many books on online stores. I also purchase them when we are on holidays in my family-in-law country (an Arabic-speaking country). And I also find some great books at our local public libraries (even in France and Canada!). Don’t forget to check yours!
I also recommend our first printable resources especially if you are a non-native speaker because they offer many features adapted to your needs:
- “vowels” in the Arabic text and an usual Arabic font –> easier to read
- bilingual version (Arabic/English)
- you have the freedom to bind our dual language printables like true Arabic books.
- we pay a great attention to proof-read them so they don’t have mistakes!
I hope this first part was useful for you. The part 2 will be about Arabic listening. I will give you my hub for Arabic cartoons and a great application to listen to Arabic stories with your kids! If you don’t want to miss it, I suggest you sign up here ^^. Update: read the part 2 here!
If you have questions or other tips/advises to practice Arabic Reading, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
And feel free to share this article if it can help others!
Emilie, cofounder of Arabic Seeds.
Tag:Arabic books, Arabic for children, Arabic for little kids, Arabic lesson, Arabic printables, Arabic resources, Arabic Storytelling, bilingual, daily Arabic, language learning, muslim parenting, muslim parents, non-native Arabic speaker, non-native speaker, practice Arabic, read Arabic, read in Arabic