Modern Standard Arabic, anyone?


A free website  focused on Modern Standard Arabic

Over the years, I have gradually ended up using my Egyptian colloquial Arabic (عامية) much more than Modern Standard Arabic, but it remains a very important and helpful part of my Arabic. I use it for reading news articles, instructions, legal stuff, religious texts, general history, and more. Since 2011, being able to read Arabic on Twitter and Facebook has been an essential part of living in the midst of the Revolution and the upheavals that took place. This week I am reviewing a website that is great for learners of Modern Standard Arabic.

The site is a project of the National Capital Language Resource Center, and uses news broadcasts in simplified Modern Standard Arabic to provide a “stepping stone” between the classroom and authentic Arabic news media. I have spent some time going over it this past week, so I thought I’d share a bit about it with you. While I am not going to do reviews of every resource for learning/teaching Arabic that I find, this one caught my attention, and so for what it’s worth I am sharing it with you. While the content does have somewhat of an American focus in certain sections, it is nonetheless useful for learners of any nationality.

Simplified Modern Standard Arabic Webcasts آخر الأخبار باللغة العربية المبسطة 

On the site, there are 16 webcasts. Each webcast includes approximately 5 different lessons, and each lesson includes:

A listening segment of 1-2 minutes

  • A list of vocabulary items in Modern Standard Arabic, transliteration, and English
  • 4-6 multiple choice questions in English to test your comprehension
  • A full script of the audio segments

The site gives the following suggestions for listening:

Listening to a flow-of-speech can be a daunting and frustrating task. Learning to live with the frustration is part of the learning curve. So we advise that you try these steps in this order:

  • Read all the exercises first! They will help you to understand everything you can.
  • Don’t listen word for word. Try to get the gist. On the other hand, pay close attention to names and numbers.
  • Use your background knowledge and common sense. If you are listening to a report on a natural disaster in Brazil, chances are it won’t have to do with snow.
  • While the scripts for the broadcasts are available, use them only as a last resort.

Here’s a look at one of those lessons:

عُمَلاء أف بي آي على فيسبوك
FBI Agents on Facebook

Modern Standard Arabic Audio FileLink to Lesson’s audio file

Vocabulary List

  • مُستَنَد mustanad – document
  • عَميل xamiil – agent
  • عُمَلاء xumalaa’ – agents
  • تَنفيذ tanfiidh – execution of (n.)
  • القانون al-qaanuun – the law
  • مُشْتَبَة بِه mushtabah bihi – suspect (n.)
  • إخْتِراق ‘ikhtiraaq – penetration
  • شَبَكَة إجْتِماعيّة shabaka ‘ijtimaaxiyya
  • تأمَل ta’mal – hopes
  • وِزارة العَدْل wizaarat al-xadl – ministry of justice
  • مُحتَمَل muHtamal -possible
  • عَمَليّة سِريّة xamaliyya sirriyya – secret operation
  • غير قانوني ghayr qaanooniyy – illegal
  • هَويّة مُزَوَّرة hawiyya muzawwara – false identity
  • مَحظور maHDHuur – forbidden (n.)
  • اللجوء al-lujuu’ – resort to (n.)
  • الخِداع al-khidaax – deception
  • مُزَيَّف muzayyaf – fake
  • دافعي الضَرائب daafixiyy aDDaraa’ib

Multiple Choice Questions for Comprehension

1. The main theme of this news story is:
a. FBI agents networking
b. Identity theft at the FBI
c. The rule of law in the US
d. FBI using social sites

2. Through Facebook and My Space, the FBI hopes to:
a. Make new friends
b. Prevent fraud
c. Limit identity theft
d. Capture criminals

3. It is permitted that FBI agents assume false identities on Facebook.

4. IRS employees are allowed to obtain information on tax-payers in any way possible.

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