Creating System for Learning Arabic, Advice Wanted


I’m completely new to the “world of memory,” but I was hooked after my first exposure to the Memory Palace method, after which I tried on my own. Skeptical as I was, I memorized a list of 50 random words, which I was then able to recall perfectly 1, 2, 3, and 6 months later. I haven’t had time to devote to it since then, but I am convinced of its effectiveness, and I would like to use it for my Arabic language studies.

Does anybody know about a system that I could use (or maybe adapt) for learning Arabic? I’ve run into some problems, which I’ll describe below.

I’m at about 1,500 words now, but Arabic vocab has proven very difficult for me to memorize. I had toyed around with a system (as a complete novice) where I assigned a person/animal to every consonant and an action to every vowel, which I then used to construct images for each word using its spelling. What I found, though, was that after a handful of words, all of the images began to look the same and I could no longer memorize them.

Can anybody help me think about how to create a system that would work for Arabic?

There are a few peculiarities that I will go into below make Arabic MUCH more difficult than Romance languages when it comes to applying memory techniques as an English speaker:

-About a third of the sounds for the Arabic alphabet don’t exist in English (this pretty much makes the link method useless in my experience).
-There are almost no cognates with English.
-Probably over 75% of Arabic words are derived from 3-letter root words (not including short vowels, which appear as marks above or below the letters themselves). For example, there will be a 3-letter verb carrying a very general meaning, like “he mentioned” (ذَكَرْ), then you will transform that verb according to a predictable pattern to get another meaning like “he reminded” (ذَكَّرْ) (the middle letter is just doubled). From there there can be further transformations (i.e. “he remembered” (تَذَكَّرْ)). There are 10 common “forms” like this for every verb, though most verbs cannot take all 10 forms. Also, nouns, adjectives, active participles and active participles are all derived from each of these forms, so it’s not unreasonable for there to be 50 or 60 words, all with extremely close spellings. We have this in English, but it’s not quite as extensive as in Arabic. So, this makes it somewhat easier to recognize words and guess their meaning in context, but it makes it extremely hard to keep them straight when memorizing, or especially when trying to use a system like I outlined above.
-Arabic is also extremely “vowel heavy” or “syllable heavy.” Unlike English, where two consonants often appear together, in Arabic there is a vowel after almost every letter. Now you can see why having the same 7 or 8 actions for the vowels didn’t work so well.

Other Characteristics of Arabic
-28 letters
-3 of the letters are long vowels that can also sound like consonants depending on surrounding letters (like “y” in English)
-3 short vowels, which appear above or below the letters. They normally aren’t written except when necessary to differentiate in meaning if context isn’t enough, because Arabs already know how to say them. That said, if you’re learning the language, it’s impossible to pronounce the word correctly without them.
-3 other diacritics that appear above or below the letters to indicate things like (a doubled vowel, no vowel sound, or a doubled consonant). The “shadda” which indicates a doubled consonant is the only one that it is imperative to incorporate into my system.

I also had one other question. I get how you can use a system like this to memorize pronunciation, but how do you infuse the meaning of the word as well? It seems like it would become a very cluttered image that would be confusing, particularly more abstract nouns or verbs.

I hope this information was helpful, and I appreciate any help you can provide in thinking through this!


Learning arabic alphabet

Check that site out, it’s great for learning language vocabulary.

As for any specific advice, I don’t have any experience with languages that use non-Latin scripts, so sorry. My best advice I can give is transliterate it to our alphabet then have a go at creating images.

The way we infuse the meaning is by attaching it to our native language. We know the meanings of words in our native language, so when you attach the foreign word to the native word through the use of an image, that gives you a concise meaning.

Take the French word for teeth, “les dents”. Imagine teeth with dents in it. So the next time you see the words “les dents”, you’re reminded of the image of teeth with dents, and you know that les dents means teeth.


i did some of the alphabet most of the letters look like things like ب looks like a guy who fell out of his boat and i imagine a angry sheep yelling ba.for ر i think of ra the god of the sun or something and think of him wearing a sash like in a beauty pageant. obviously it would be harder with for words because of multiple characters.if you struggling with certain words this may help to separate them until they are i your long term memory.



I’m native Arabic language and it’s hard to explain about that in small comment
But first u should to know the basics and after i can tell u about what u can do in Arabic

You need to memorize Alphabet first here:
Arabic alphabet

  • After: should think much about the Script and the Sound!

Note: don’t learn language like all do ! translate the word to English and memorize it ! No!
Think well that Arabic is another thing that u try to learn! with different system’s!
I hope all will be easy for u if u do what i said before…

Focus on!:

1- Script: the Arabic word.
2- Sound: the pronunciation.

1-1 Word --> picture or something real etc … than focus in the:
2-2 Sound and how i can pronounce it correct

  • After:

Memorize Famous Vocabulary ( Beginner )
Learn Basics of Grammar ( Beginner )

  • And: Develop:

Voice training

  • After: Learn well
    Intermediate & Advanced: Grammar
    Intermediate & Advanced: Vocabulary

I think that will be helpful for u
For any questions or something else ! u can send msg



My suggestions:

Memorize the “root” and the “pattern” separately.

For each “pattern” you could choose a sample word to represent it. For example, كِتَاب could represent the فِعَال pattern.

For a “root” (which consists entirely of consonants) you can code the Arabic consonants as English consonants. Since there are more Arabic consonants then English, you can use one consonant such as “s” as an “escape code.” Unfortunately this means you can’t use “s” to represent س. This may be better explained by the following list.

Along those lines, I suggest the following coding. These are arranged in order of frequency in Arabic:
ر = r
و = p
ل = l
م = m
ن = n
ب = b
ف = f, v
ع = g
ق = k
د = d
س = t
ح = h, ng
ي = s+n
ش = sh, ch
ج = j, zh
ك = s+k
ه s+h,s+ng
ز = z
ط = s+l
خ = s+r
ص = s+t
ء = s+m
ت = s+s,s+z
ض = s+d
غ = s+g
ث = th
ذ = dh
ظ = s+dh
This is a compromise between keeping the more frequent codes short, keeping the Arabic sounds close to the English sounds where possible, and making full use of all English consonants, even those not found in Arabic.

It may strike you as odd that I lump “h” and “ng” together, but this is useful because in English “h” only appears at the beginning of syllables and “ng” only at the end.

So, for example, to symbolize the root كتب , we would code ك as “s+k”, ت as “s+s”, and ب as “b”. The whole root would be the sequence “s+k+s+s+b”, so perhaps “sexy sub”.



Could you explain what you mean by an ‘escape code’ please? I’m very interested in this system and am going to give it a go



Or think of “s” as like a shift-key, so the following letter represents something different from what it ordinarily would.


That’s an interesting idea and I’ve toyed with having a similar “spelling” system for Syriac (also a Semetic language. What I didn’t like was how long it took to decode the images when I was reviewing. I usually break a new word into syllables and then try to think of images that sound like those syllables. Then I combine them into a story/images and add something to remind myself of the meaning. I’ve noticed that I’ve found consistent mnemonic images for common prefixes/suffixes.

I wonder if you could create an image for each pattern that gets applied to a root?

So you could then memorize the root on a locus and all the following loci could be the various patterns and meanings until you come to a new root.


Loc 1: root
Loc 2: pattern 1 + meaning
Loc 3: pattern 2 + meaning
Loc 4: next root
Loc 5: pattern 1 + meaning