Ideas for making Arabic (or anything) stick..Use Repetition and make it fun..

05 Dec

A TJ visitor asked for some ideas for helping her son who attends Arabic class in weekend school. He was having trouble distinguishing between the tanweens. I brainstormed some ideas from things I have used in the past or have stumbled upon and want to try and thought I would post them here.  Although I had Arabic in mind when I compiled this list, many of these activities I have used for English as well.

 So here was my response:

Daily Review

This may be pretty obvious but I thought I would mention it. In addition to the class, do you sit down with him each day and practice the material learned? I find that my kids do much better when something is introduced and then I have them practice it daily (and then maybe weekly once its mastered) instead of just following the lesson in the book (or lessons I have prepared), its just usually not enough practice.

If I can, I like to try to drill after each pray to help remind me or set up a specific time (one or two) each day to review.


Review  can come in many forms, here are just a few  (I’ve tried to tailor most to the tanween problem you have mentioned but they can be adapted to probably any concept, Allahu ilm)


I use games very often to drill the material. Sometimes the kids have so much fun they forget they are learning/drilling. Some things I do include:


On my blog, I have several game boards for the short vowels.  Most of the time we just end up reading the words along the path instead of using markers to move, but I think this is more interesting then reading the exercises in the book.  So if he is having trouble with tanween, you might include words along a path that include tanween. (We are on sukoon right now, so insha Allah, I may soon have boards with tanween on my blog). Or you just might have the tanweens written along the path and he has to name them.

      The ladder/step game

      I think this is one of their absolute favorite games. I draw a ladder or steps and write words (or letters if we are doing alphabet or math facts for math, etc) on the steps. I draw a treat at the top (or put a real one there) and they must read the words to go up the stairs. I may make them go back down if they miss a word after correctly reading it for them (but it depends, some of the kids get frustrated if they have to keep starting over so I use this sparingly and according to the child). I usually do this on the whiteboard and then make several different sets of stairs with the words in different order.

      Instead of words, you can just put fathah tanweens, dammah tanweens, and kashrah tanweens on the steps as well and he can say the name or the sound of the endings.


Tic Tac Toe

      Write the endings in the tic tac toe spaces, he must name the ending to place a mark; or write words with the endings in the spaces.


1.      Place several cards of each of the endings. in a can.

2.      Place one or two cards with the word “Bang” on them in can with the other cards.

3.      Child picks out one card at a time and says the ending. If he reads the card correctly, he continues.  If he gets a “Bang” card, he must put al cards back and start over.

4.      Child wins when he has read all cards.

Note: for smaller children, I would only put 1 “Bang” card in the can.




Perhaps you can write the same word three times, but with fathah tanween one time, kashrah tanween one time and then dammah tanween the last time in a line (e.g kataabuun, kataabiin, kataabaan and then having him read the words. You point to the ending in each before he reads to draw visual attention to the ending he is about to pronounce. You might read the drill yourself first several times pointing to the ending and then have him read. After doing the drill with the same word, try a different word.

For trouble just distinguishing between the endings, you can do this drill with the endings written instead of the words. 



Make 3 paper tiles, one with kasrah tanween, one with dammah tanween, one with fathah tanween. You read the words with the ending and student must select one of the paper tiles with the ending that matches the ending you said. Or you can write a word without the endings and then say the word with the ending and he puts the correct paper tile on the end to match. You can make it more engaging by having him hold up the correct card instead of just pointing to/placing  it.

You can also do this dictation without the tiles by having him write the correct endings that are dictated or have him write the whole word with the ending.


 Or, write the same word three times with the different endings written, you say one of the words, he circles which one you said.


Good old flashcards.

Make a deck of flashcards based upon the concepts he is learning in class. Add a new flashcard as a new concept is introduced in class. So if he’s done fathah, kasrah, dammah, sukoon, fathah tanween, dammah tanween, and kasrah tanween so far, put cards with these symbols each on  its own card. Each day, go through the cards and have him give the name of each symbol and its sound (if applicable).  Give him a word (katabaan) or word part (ka) and tell him to name the vowels or the word ending.  Sometimes I make up games with the flashcards like hold the card in the air and slowly lower it and he has to answer what I’ve asked before the card reaches the ground.



Insha Allah the key is to just give him more practice with the concepts he is learning in class. As I said earlier, most of the time, I feel that the lessons in books do not provide enough practice typically so I try to find fun, simple, and varied activities to practice the concepts.  The ideas above can help reinforce concepts, insha Allah through the use of listening, speaking, reading and writing disguised in fun activities.





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Posted by on December 5, 2008 in Arabic Teaching Tips


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