How to Start Reading In Levantine Arabic (Step-By-Step Guide) (+ Hear Me Speak in Arabic!)

Here’s a scene from a one-act stage play I wrote this morning. I think you’ll like it if you want to start improving your Levantine Arabic reading skills.

[Enter Uchechi, stage left.]

Uchechi: The key to reading in Levantine Arabic is to start reading in Fusha.

[Enter linguists, language teachers, and anyone who has had to endure the wrath of Al-Kitaab, stage right.]

All dem: Huh? How does that even make sense? Fusha and Levantine are not the same languages. Stop lying to folks.

Uchechi: Lying? Okay here’s a question then. What do: يعلك, مبحوح, and معجزة have in common?

All dem: Um, they’re in Arabic. Obviously. So what?

Uchechi: Actually, what they all have in common is that each word has the exact same meaning in Fusha as it does in Levantine. What I mean is: معجزة means miracle in Fusha and Levantine. يعلك means to chew. And مبحوح means hoarse.

All dem: What how did you know that? Are you just scrolling through the dictionary?

Uchechi: No, I found each one in Ghassan Kanafani’s novella Returning to Haifa. Have you ever read it?

All dem: But that novella is written in Fusha!

Uchechi: My point exactly…

[Uchechi drops her mic and exits stage left. All dem stare off into the distance, amazed at the simple and novel thought that reading in Fusha could actually improve their Levantine Arabic.]

[End of play.]

So you see folks, even the naysayers believe me. So what about you? Are you ready to learn an oh-so-simple technique to use Fusha to improve your Levantine Arabic?

The reason I’m making such a big stink about reading is because:

1) Most Arabic students never read anything that has not been assigned in class. So if you’re not in a formal Arabic class right now, you probably haven’t read anything in a while.

2) Levantine Arabic students hardly read anything because Levantine reading is hardly ever assigned and because reading resources in Levantine are hard to find.

3) Reading has been proven time and time again, as one of the most important skills a language learner needs to reach fluency in their language.

In my experience, the reason I love reading vs. tv and music immersion is that when I’m reading, I am confronted by everything I don’t know. And therefore, I have the opportunity to learn a ton of new words very quickly.

During listening immersion, on the other hand, if I miss a word, I miss it, and it’s unlikely that I’ll learn that word unless I’m focused enough to stop my immersion, figure out the spelling of the word, plug it into a dictionary, and hope that I find the definition.

So how do you use reading in Fusha to improve your Levantine? In the video below, I walked you through how to do that step-by-step.

And surprise! I’m also speaking Arabic in this video! This is probably one of my first times speaking Arabic publically since I started self-studying in early 2020. So, I also added subtitles and I’d love suggestions from native speakers on how I can improve.

What do think about this guide to reading? Is it something you’ll start using? Are there any strategies you currently use and want people to know about?

Get your free copy of 10 Things You Need to Know if You Want to Learn Arabic Fluently.

1 Comment

  1. Karen

    I’m not a native speaker or a Levantine expert, but your accent sounds great to me!

    Also, I can understand (from your post about mental health) how scary it is to put yourself out there on video, especially speaking Arabic. But what I see is a beautiful woman with a lovely personality that comes through when you speak either language.

    I have some comments about reading in fousha (ways it’s useful and not), but instead of continuing to leave rediculously long comments on your site, I think I should go and write some blog posts myself. Reading yours has brought out a lot of things I want to say! I don’t actually have a blog yet, but I think it’s about time I make one. So I’ll do that, and post a link when I’m done.


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