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arabic-dictionary

The best Arabic learning tools – a starter kit

A collection of the best Arabic tools and apps for learners of Arabic: dictionaries, browser add-ons, audiobooks, streaming tools.

Over the years, I’ve collected and presented many resources, apps and tools that make learning Arabic easier – be it dictionaries, conjugation apps, tools for Netflix, etc.

Anyone starting out with Arabic has similar questions: what is a good online Arabic dictionary? How can I change the Arabic font in the browser? Where can I get an Arabic keyboard?

I have therefore summarized the most important questions and created a list: a starter package with the most important tools, all of which are suitable for the everyday life of an Arabic learner.

Note: The list mainly contains open-source apps or products that are distributed for free, but also some paid apps. I, personally, use Linux (Arch, KDE), my mobile phone is based on an open source operating system. Unfortunately, I have almost no experience with Apple products. Therefore, it would be great if Apple users can share their recommendations.

Typing in Arabic

I can only recommend buying an Arabic keyboard as soon as possible. This way you get used to the letters. I myself can’t do much with keyboard stickers, since they don’t last long with my typing volume.

Google Ta3reeb – convert transliterated Words into Arabic

If you don’t have an Arabic keyboard, you can still write Arabic on your computer. You can write with English letters and the text will be automatically converted into Arabic script. Yamli used to be a good add-on but is not maintained anymore. I can recommend Google Input Tool (Ta3reeb) which works very well. You can install add-ons for Chrome (see below) and Android.

The tools are also quite handy if you need to type a word quickly in Arabic or cannot figure out how a transliterated word would be written in Arabic.

Buy an Arabic keyboard

A few years ago, Arabic keyboards were hard to come by in Europe. Today, you can get them in any Arab neighborhood or simply order them online.

  • Ergonomic design, comfortable to use, not easy to fatigue, suitable for long hours of work and games, and help to reduce hand fatigue.
  • Designed for durability and tactile feedback, with higher durability and responsiveness, and enhance the gaming experience
  • Made of high‑quality ABS material, the characters are wear‑resistant and not easy to fade, non‑slip and splash‑proof, durable.
  • The appearance design is simple and stylish, and it is small and light, suitable for carrying when going out.
  • Wide application range, universal for pc notebook computers, bilingual keyboard, Arabic and English.

If you live in Germany, you can buy a cheap keyboard with QWERTZ-layout from ebay. Click on this link.

Install Arabic fonts for Microsoft Word und LibreOffice

Arial and Times New Roman do now have good Arabic support. Nowadys, there are many beautiful Arabic fonts of any type (classical Naskh, Kufi fonts, fonts for headlines, etc.)

You can download free Arabic fonts from Google Fonts.

google fonts arabic examples
The best Arabic learning tools - a starter kit 51

Dictionaries

Checking Arabic roots

Aratools (4.99 US$ for apple users) used to be a great product that still works very well, but unfortunately, it looks like it is no longer being developed. Nevertheless, it is perhaps the most useful tool for Arabic learners because it is basically a morphological analyzer: it tells you the root of a word, the stem and the form.

HOW TO GET IT

Verb conjugation

CAVE is an Arabic-English conjugation app that covers over 1700 Arabic verbs.

HOW TO GET IT

ARABIC -> English

Web & App: Hans Wehr

For Android, there is a remarkable app by Gibreel Abdullah from India that is not only fast but also offers full-text search in English! Furthermore, it shows how often and where the word in question occurs in the Qur’an.

So far, there is no version for Apple users, but there is another app that works quite well.

If you are looking for a web application: On ejtaal.net/aa/ you find the most important dictionaries: Hans Wehr (4th edition), Lane’s Lexicon, al-Mawrid, and the Egyptian Arabic dictionary of Hinds/Badawi. Furthermore, you will get the Classics and many Qur’an dictionaries.

HOW TO GET IT

Disclaimer: I have no idea if there are any copyright issues. It is your responsibility if you use ejtaal or any other Hans Wehr app.

Web & App: Lane’s Lexicon

The developer of the Hans Wehr app has also launched a similar app for the famous Lane’s Lexicon which is a great tool if you read older texts.

Apple users can try another app – see below.

For offline usage, there is Lane’s Lexicon by Graeme Andrews which is a great tool. It is fully searchable and you can adjust almost anything in the settings. It is available for almost any platform (Windows, Apple, Linux). Just download the appropriate installer.

HOW TO GET IT

Web & App: Arabic dialects – Lughatuna

Lughatuna (livingarabic), founded by Hossam Abouzahr, offers dictionaries for Egyptian, Levantine, and Standard/Classical Arabic. It could be that lughatuna will become the “Hans Wehr” for dialects in the future.

HOW TO GET IT

ENGLISH -> Arabic

The best paid option (subscription model) is perhaps the Oxford Dictionary. Also Wordreference is good to find phrases and connotations. If you need a quick translation of modern-day Arabic, the VerbAce app is a good option.

HOW TO GET IT

GERMAN -> Arabic

German- Arabic dictionaries were either totally outdated or pretty rudimentary and full of mistakes – until 2015. Since then, most of the works were upgraded and updated. Langenscheidt offers the German-Arabic dictionary for free. For regular tasks, it is usually more than enough. You have to access the dictionary with your browser.

Arabic -> Arabic

Intermediate learners will love almaany.com

HOW TO GET IT

Translation

Machine Translation has improved a lot, especially Google Translate is getting better and better. I also like Systran.

Reverso

Oftentimes looking up words in a dictionary won’t help you. Reverso shows you a parallel translation of English and Arabic sentences. Reverse uses several corpora databases, mainly from books and governmental documents (UN, EU, etc.)

HOW TO GET IT

Translate Pro for Gmail

Translate Pro is a useful add-on for Gmail. You can quickly translate text into Arabic without opening new tabs. It is for free.

translate pro
The best Arabic learning tools - a starter kit 52

You can get download it here:

Audiobooks

A major problem for Arabic learners is the lack of vowel signs. This not only makes reading Arabic books tedious, you may also learn wrong things without even realizing it. Audiobooks provide a remedy for this. You will find hundreds of book on arabcast.org

Firefox Browser

Adjust the Arabic font

Reading Arabic texts on the web can be tedious because the Arabic font usually appear too small. The add-on wudooh changes that.

Translate Arabic words with mouse over

The add-on Arabic Vocabulary instantly translates Arabic words on mouse-over.

Change writing direction in any editor

The add-on Switch Direction provides a quick change of the writing direction which is useful for contact forms, email editors, etc.

Fix when RTL and LTR texts occur together

The extension Bidi Support adds bidirectional support to websites. Texts (both LTR and RTL) should appear in the correct direction.

translate example
The best Arabic learning tools - a starter kit 53

Tweak: Change entire layout of a webpage to Right-To-Left with a click

Sometimes, Arabic pages are not displayed from right to left which makes them difficult to read. We can change that easily:

  • Open Firefox and type in the search bar about:config (press enter)
  • Press on the button (ignore the warning)
  • Now, type in: bidi.browser.ui
  • Set the value to true
  • Restart Firefox
  • Press the right button on your mouse, and you will see “Switch Text Direction” in your context menu.

Chrome Browser

Adjust the Arabic font

Reading Arabic texts on the web can be tedious because the Arabic font usually appear too small. The add-on wudooh changes that.

Translate Arabic words with mouse over

The add-on Arabic Vocabulary instantly translates Arabic words on mouse-over.

Write in Arabic with Latin letters

Switch to typing in a different language with the click of the mouse, and switch back just as easily. The Google Input Tools extension provides a virtual keyboard for Arabic.

Fix Right-to-Left issues

The extension RTL-fixer corrects what usually gets messed up when Right-to-Left (RTL) text and Left-to-Right (LTR) text is mixed which often happens on YouTube, Github or LinkedIn.

Vocab Trainer

Anki

The great thing about Anki is that users share their lists. You can download Arabic vocab sets.

HOW TO GET IT

Online Streaming

In the past, it was difficult to receive Arabic television abroad. Today, there is the app pupilhd, which works excellently and costs around $6 a month.


Of course, there are many alternatives. But the above tools are a good start for anyone learning Arabic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t include other languages such as French, Turkish, Russian, Urdu, or Spanish (just to name a few) because I don’t use them in everyday life. But I am happy to include them in the list – please let me know or use the comment section.

If you are seeking alternatives, you will find many ideas on this blog – just use this search form.

APPLE users: Unfortunately, I could not list many apps for iOS because I do not use Apple devices. If you know apps, tricks or tools, please use the comment section or send me a message.

Disclaimer: Some apps use dictionaries as a basis, for example the Hans Wehr. I have no idea if the developers have all the rights to process the dictionary digitally. However, I assume that everything is in order, since the apps can be downloaded from the Google and Apple stores.

Any thoughts or ideas about this? Leave a COMMENT!

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