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Author Topic: Tips And Resources For Improving Modern Standard Arabic  (Read 2454 times) Average Rating: 0
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Severian
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« on: August 09, 2012, 03:07:14 AM »

I am (half) Egyptian by ancestry, and I live in the U.S.A. Throughout my entire life I have been fascinated by Egyptian culture and history. Growing up, my father taught me Egyptian Arabic and made it a rule that my siblings and I only speak to each other in Arabic. I worked hard to actually be able to speak Egyptian colloquial Arabic at a respectable level. And in the summer of 2008, I taught myself (Yes, I taught myself. I am more intelligent than I feign to be sometimes Wink) the Arabic alphabet and how to read Arabic on a basic level. What I would like to do now is build upon the foundation which I have formed for myself. I would like to learn Modern Standard Arabic enough to understand it, read some simple books, and perhaps later move on to Patristic and liturgical literature. If Arabic speakers could just provide me with some tips and resources for me to improve my MS Arabic, I would appreciate it. I am young and have the time, so I think I can do it if I commit myself.

And sorry if I rambled on too much about myself in the beginning. Wink
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2012, 06:04:34 AM »

--Bump--
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2012, 06:22:52 AM »

If you can stomach it, Qur'an helps a lot. Listen to a good reciter like Mshary Rashid al-'Afasy - the slow pace of the recitation makes it easier to learn than listening to newsreaders talking at 100mph, and they take pains over correct enunciation. It also has the benefit of being able to have the Arabic text in front of you as you're listening, plus Qur'an is always written with taskeel/vowels.

When I was learning MSA at university, I used Elementary Modern Standard Arabic by Peter F. Abboud and Ernest M. McCarus (I got through vols. 1 & 2, though I have shamefully now forgotten almost all of it). It's quite an old book, and the typesetting and fonts are not very pleasing to the eye, but generally speaking I found it well thought out, easy to work through and very helpful.
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 06:38:35 AM »

If you can stomach it, Qur'an helps a lot. Listen to a good reciter like Mshary Rashid al-'Afasy - the slow pace of the recitation makes it easier to learn than listening to newsreaders talking at 100mph. It also has the benefit of being able to have the Arabic text in front of you as you're listening, plus Qur'an is always written with taskeel/vowels.

When I was learning MSA at university, I used Elementary Modern Standard Arabic by Peter F. Abboud and Ernest M. McCarus (I got through vols. 1 & 2, though I have shamefully now forgotten almost all of it). It's quite an old book, and the typesetting and fonts are not very pleasing to the eye, but generally speaking I found it well thought out, easy to work through and very helpful.
Thank you. And yes, I can stomach the Quran. I have listened to Mishary Rashid AlAfasy before on "Quran explorer."
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 06:40:07 AM »

I have listened to Mishary Rashid AlAfasy before on "Quran explorer."

He's an awesome singer too, although he mainly sings in Kuwaiti dialect, which won't help you  Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 01:09:46 AM »

Ahlan ya Severian--I've been learning MSA and Lebanese Arabic off and on since October 2008, mostly not in a university context. But I changed my major to Arabic last year, and we used the al-Kitaab series by Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal, and Abbas Al-Tonsi. It's quite good  (make sure to get the latest editions), providing useful vocabulary lists and concise grammar lessons, though each component book is pretty expensive by itself.

Other books worth checking out include (1) "The Connectors in Modern Standard Arabic" by Nariman Naili Al-Warraki and Ahmed Taher Hassanein, and (2) "Media Arabic: A Coursebook for Reading Arabic News" by Alaa Elgibali and Nevenka Korica.

Good luck in your studies. Learning Arabic is quite the adventure. Smiley

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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 01:22:04 AM »

Thank you. Welcome to the forum! Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 05:28:23 PM »

Anyone know a good Orthodox Bible translation with all the Deuterocanonicals? I only have the Protestant Van Dyke translation.
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 05:52:19 PM »

I don't know, I read somewhere a long time ago that the protestant translation you already have basically is the only good Arabic translation. I would really like to learn Arabic.
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 06:28:07 PM »

I don't know, I read somewhere a long time ago that the protestant translation you already have basically is the only good Arabic translation.
You could be right. Other translations like "al-kitab as-shariff" are not really that good from the little I've read of them.

I would really like to learn Arabic.
Modern Standard or a local dialect?

BTW, can you give me any advice as to how to learn Greek (so I can begin to read Patristic, Liturgical, and Scriptural works)?
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 06:56:02 PM »

BTW, can you give me any advice as to how to learn Greek (so I can begin to read Patristic, Liturgical, and Scriptural works)?

The Fathers and the Scriptures are a lot easier than the classical works. The best thing you could do is buy a Greek-English dictionary (preferably Liddle-Scott) and learn declensions. Doulos, doulou, douloi, etc. You can always check for words in the dictionary, grammar, and specifically declensions, are very important.

Modern Standard or a local dialect?

I was thinking about Classical or Egyptian. I can study a year abroad and I thought that perhaps I could go and see what's left of the great and God-beloved city of Alexandria and its renowned learning.
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2013, 07:05:26 PM »

BTW, can you give me any advice as to how to learn Greek (so I can begin to read Patristic, Liturgical, and Scriptural works)?

The Fathers and the Scriptures are a lot easier than the classical works. The best thing you could do is buy a Greek-English dictionary (preferably Liddle-Scott) and learn declensions. Doulos, doulou, douloi, etc. You can always check for words in the dictionary, grammar, and specifically declensions, are very important.
Thanks for the advice. Smiley

I was thinking about Classical or Egyptian. I can study a year abroad and I thought that perhaps I could go and see what's left of the great and God-beloved city of Alexandria and its renowed learning.
Oh, how I envy you! Tongue

Learning Egyptian Arabic may be a step in the right direction. I have no formal education in MSA, but because I speak the Egyptian dialect pretty fluently I can understand MSA pretty well (just don't ask me to read any long documents Wink). Plus, Egyptian Arabic is widely understood throughout the Arab world due to the predominance of the Egyptian media. When I was on vacation 5 years ago I had a conversation with a Moroccan lady in Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, even though Moroccan Arabic and Egyptian Arabic are not mutually intelligible.
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2013, 08:03:59 PM »

Cyrillic: Just listen to Abdel Halim Hafez and Om Kalsoum a lot. Sheesh...it can't be that hard.  Tongue

Severian: Aren't the readings in church supposed to be in fusha, or as close as the deacon can manage? That's the excuse people give at my church for messing up, anyway... (not that I could do it even 1/100th as good as they can; my Arabic varies between awful and non-existent).  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2013, 08:14:53 PM »

Cyrillic: Just listen to Abdel Halim Hafez and Om Kalsoum a lot. Sheesh...it can't be that hard.  Tongue

Severian: Aren't the readings in church supposed to be in fusha, or as close as the deacon can manage? That's the excuse people give at my church for messing up, anyway... (not that I could do it even 1/100th as good as they can; my Arabic varies between awful and non-existent).  Smiley
Yeah, I can read them pretty well.
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« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2013, 09:05:36 PM »

Before learning a dialect, everyone should definitely learn Fusha (MSA).

Personally, my favorite dialects are the Yemeni, Khaliji (Gulf), and the Egyptian.
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« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2013, 02:47:33 AM »

NVM!
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« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2013, 03:58:11 AM »

Before learning a dialect, everyone should definitely learn Fusha (MSA).

Well... it depends. Knowing Modern Standard Arabic is essential if one seeks to watch television, read the newspapers/magazines/books, and the like. But it is not helpful at all if one simply wishes to converse casually.

Quote
Personally, my favorite dialects are the Yemeni, Khaliji (Gulf), and the Egyptian.

Mine is Lebanese. Smiley (The second most useful behind Egyptian and the most euphonious out of all the dialects.)
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« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2013, 04:02:30 AM »

(not that I could do it even 1/100th as good as they can; my Arabic varies between awful and non-existent).  Smiley

Isn't there anyone at church who could give you lessons from time to time? It's a shame that you have so many Egyptians around but your Arabic isn't improving by leaps and bounds...
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« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2013, 05:13:15 AM »

Any additional tips on how to improve the speed of my reading? Thanks!
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2013, 04:11:53 PM »

Bumping this so I can have easier access to it.
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« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2013, 12:02:32 PM »

How long it takes to learn enough to cope with basic colloquial discussion or reading a newspaper? I'm considering taking some courses on MSA and/or Egyptian dialect during this summer but I've been told that learning just some basics can take many years. That sounds a bit scary since I don't plan to apply for Arabic linguistics in a university or anything.
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« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2013, 09:03:47 PM »

How long it takes to learn enough to cope with basic colloquial discussion or reading a newspaper? I'm considering taking some courses on MSA and/or Egyptian dialect during this summer but I've been told that learning just some basics can take many years. That sounds a bit scary since I don't plan to apply for Arabic linguistics in a university or anything.
Egyptian Arabic is not that hard. MSA however, is an entirely different beast, though.
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« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2013, 09:27:28 PM »

If you can stomach it, Qur'an helps a lot. Listen to a good reciter like Mshary Rashid al-'Afasy - the slow pace of the recitation makes it easier to learn than listening to newsreaders talking at 100mph. It also has the benefit of being able to have the Arabic text in front of you as you're listening, plus Qur'an is always written with taskeel/vowels.

When I was learning MSA at university, I used Elementary Modern Standard Arabic by Peter F. Abboud and Ernest M. McCarus (I got through vols. 1 & 2, though I have shamefully now forgotten almost all of it). It's quite an old book, and the typesetting and fonts are not very pleasing to the eye, but generally speaking I found it well thought out, easy to work through and very helpful.
Thank you. And yes, I can stomach the Quran. I have listened to Mishary Rashid AlAfasy before on "Quran explorer."
My Spiritual Father has actually forbidden from listening to the Quran being recited. Any other listening alternatives?

Thanks
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« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2013, 10:56:11 PM »

If you can stomach it, Qur'an helps a lot. Listen to a good reciter like Mshary Rashid al-'Afasy - the slow pace of the recitation makes it easier to learn than listening to newsreaders talking at 100mph. It also has the benefit of being able to have the Arabic text in front of you as you're listening, plus Qur'an is always written with taskeel/vowels.

When I was learning MSA at university, I used Elementary Modern Standard Arabic by Peter F. Abboud and Ernest M. McCarus (I got through vols. 1 & 2, though I have shamefully now forgotten almost all of it). It's quite an old book, and the typesetting and fonts are not very pleasing to the eye, but generally speaking I found it well thought out, easy to work through and very helpful.
Thank you. And yes, I can stomach the Quran. I have listened to Mishary Rashid AlAfasy before on "Quran explorer."
My Spiritual Father has actually forbidden from listening to the Quran being recited. Any other listening alternatives?

Thanks
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« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2013, 11:14:08 PM »

Any additional tips on how to improve the speed of my reading? Thanks!

I haven't studied Arabic, but having studied three languages with non-Latin alphabets (and one was Syriac!), what worked for me was simply to look at texts intensively for a few days and then take a step back and not do anything with it for a while.  Binge reading, I call it.  I found that each time I came back to binge read, I somehow got better, both in terms of speed and pronunciation. 

But I don't know anyone else who did that, let alone succeeded at it.  Most of my teachers told me that it was important to spend a little bit of time each day with the language, and proficiency would come with time.  Beyond that, I never heard of any tricks.  Maybe someone else can help.   
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« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2013, 09:07:03 AM »

I have no advice to give, but I was wondering if maybe there was an easier way to learn the alphabet?

I had to learn a bit of Arabic when I deployed (usual stuff like "stop," "drop your weapons," and "thank you"). I was even given a nice little booklet with translations, pronunciations, and how it is written. I never could wrap my head around the alphabet, probably because the shape of the letter changes depending on the sound or location of the letter in the word.

Any other language I have tried to learn has been by using the Latin alphabet (with the exception of Greek). Even when I picked up a little Quenya and Sindarin I was able to use Latin letters to learn the words and then put them in Tenqwar and learn that alphabet as I went along. But I have had no luck with the Arabic alphabet  Embarrassed
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« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2013, 10:26:18 AM »

When I had to learn the Syriac letters, which also change depending on where the letter occurs in the word, the way I did it was to take some lined paper, and on each line write each form of every letter.  It took some time, but by the end of it, I had no problem with reading the alphabet. 

For me, this was easier than flash cards or anything else.   
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« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2013, 10:42:30 AM »

I have no advice to give, but I was wondering if maybe there was an easier way to learn the alphabet?

If you want to get nerdy precise and create division, you should say Arabic doesn't have an alphabet.

Much like the etymology of alphabet, the use of the Arabic script to convey Arabic has lent its first few letters to describe a nebulous class of writing systems of a non-alphabetic nature.
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« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2013, 10:58:11 AM »

How long it takes to learn enough to cope with basic colloquial discussion or reading a newspaper? I'm considering taking some courses on MSA and/or Egyptian dialect during this summer but I've been told that learning just some basics can take many years. That sounds a bit scary since I don't plan to apply for Arabic linguistics in a university or anything.
Egyptian Arabic is not that hard. MSA however, is an entirely different beast, though.

 When I was learning Arabic, I was always tripped up by the Egyptian pronunciation of jiim which they pronounce as giim.  Also, I remember that some Lebanese pronounce it as zhiim. 
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« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2013, 11:07:09 AM »

How long it takes to learn enough to cope with basic colloquial discussion or reading a newspaper? I'm considering taking some courses on MSA and/or Egyptian dialect during this summer but I've been told that learning just some basics can take many years. That sounds a bit scary since I don't plan to apply for Arabic linguistics in a university or anything.
Egyptian Arabic is not that hard. MSA however, is an entirely different beast, though.

How so?
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« Reply #30 on: May 08, 2013, 11:12:07 AM »

How long it takes to learn enough to cope with basic colloquial discussion or reading a newspaper? I'm considering taking some courses on MSA and/or Egyptian dialect during this summer but I've been told that learning just some basics can take many years. That sounds a bit scary since I don't plan to apply for Arabic linguistics in a university or anything.

Regardless of whatever language you are going to learn, if you are "studying" it rather than being forced to use it, getting up to a reading comprehension for a typical newspaper is much quicker than "colloquial conversations", especially if your study is geared toward such ability, learning a language for graduate study at University for example.

I can read a newspaper in a few languages I neither studied nor ever used.

No way I could say more than a few words in them, even then, I would butcher them.

Frankly the mastery of language comes when you understand such stuff like billboards and the like, I can make more sense of Hegel than I can of certain terse ads and such in German. Heck, they confuse me in English at times.
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« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2013, 06:15:10 PM »

How long it takes to learn enough to cope with basic colloquial discussion or reading a newspaper? I'm considering taking some courses on MSA and/or Egyptian dialect during this summer but I've been told that learning just some basics can take many years. That sounds a bit scary since I don't plan to apply for Arabic linguistics in a university or anything.
Egyptian Arabic is not that hard. MSA however, is an entirely different beast, though.

How so?
MSA is much harder in terms of the complexity of its grammar and the diversity of its vocabulary.
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« Reply #32 on: May 13, 2013, 10:41:35 PM »

After I finally memorize those meddlesome verbs tenses and finish "Fundamentals of Classical Arabic: Volume I," what other book should I start? Volumes II and III of "Fundamentals of Classical Arabic" were never published, to the best of my knowledge (lamentably).

These are some of the books on my list that I had in mind:

•Elementary Modern Standard Arabic by Peter F. Abboud and Ernest M. McCarus
•al-Kitaab series by Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal, and Abbas Al-Tonsi
•The Connectors in Modern Standard Arabic by Nariman Naili Al-Warraki and Ahmed Taher Hassanein
•Media Arabic: A Coursebook for Reading Arabic News by Alaa Elgibali and Nevenka Korica
•501 Arabic Verbs by Raymond Scheindlin

Any suggestions?
« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 10:43:34 PM by Severian » Logged


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« Reply #33 on: May 13, 2013, 11:12:00 PM »

The al-Kitaab series is pretty much the standard for many (I hesitate to say most, but that might fit) introductory Arabic classes at the undergraduate college level in the US. I think I still have the first and second volumes around here somewhere...dunno where, but I remember keeping them thinking I could continue on using them after I graduated (haha). I actually only took a year of Arabic in college, so I don't think we got very far into the second book at all, but they're decent basic introductions. If I recall correctly, the video sections on the DVDs feature some Egyptian dialogues (since it's the mostly widely understood variety), so they're probably less than helpful/necessary for you. I have heard very good things about "Using Arabic" by Mahdi Alosh, which is part of a whole series of "Using..." texts meant for the high-intermediate learner who wants to get more into the formal aspects of the language (registers and the like). I have (maybe 'had' by now...haven't looked at it in quite a while) the Russian volume of this series back when I was very high proficiency in that language (~7 years of study; all gone now), and found it to be very helpful. Though judging from the reviews on Amazon there might be varying quality among the titles in the series (I've never personally used any other than the Russian one), so use Amazon's preview feature to check it out for yourself.
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« Reply #34 on: May 15, 2013, 10:21:49 PM »

The al-Kitaab series is pretty much the standard for many (I hesitate to say most, but that might fit) introductory Arabic classes at the undergraduate college level in the US. I think I still have the first and second volumes around here somewhere...dunno where, but I remember keeping them thinking I could continue on using them after I graduated (haha). I actually only took a year of Arabic in college, so I don't think we got very far into the second book at all, but they're decent basic introductions. If I recall correctly, the video sections on the DVDs feature some Egyptian dialogues (since it's the mostly widely understood variety), so they're probably less than helpful/necessary for you. I have heard very good things about "Using Arabic" by Mahdi Alosh, which is part of a whole series of "Using..." texts meant for the high-intermediate learner who wants to get more into the formal aspects of the language (registers and the like). I have (maybe 'had' by now...haven't looked at it in quite a while) the Russian volume of this series back when I was very high proficiency in that language (~7 years of study; all gone now), and found it to be very helpful. Though judging from the reviews on Amazon there might be varying quality among the titles in the series (I've never personally used any other than the Russian one), so use Amazon's preview feature to check it out for yourself.
Thank you.
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« Reply #35 on: May 16, 2013, 12:00:39 AM »

There some to be a lot of good books on this webpage:

http://www.kalamullah.com/learning-arabic.html
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« Reply #36 on: May 17, 2013, 11:39:34 PM »

There seems to be a lot of good books on this webpage:

http://www.kalamullah.com/learning-arabic.html
Fixed a typo from my previous message.


How do I expand my Arabic vocabulary (whether Egyptian or Classical)? As I said before, I am relatively fluent in Egyptian Arabic, but there are still some significant gaps in my vocabulary which I would like to fill. Any advice? Would you guys recommend a frequency dictionary of some sort?
« Last Edit: May 17, 2013, 11:45:40 PM by Severian » Logged


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« Reply #37 on: May 18, 2013, 01:36:59 AM »

There seems to be a lot of good books on this webpage:

http://www.kalamullah.com/learning-arabic.html
Fixed a typo from my previous message.


How do I expand my Arabic vocabulary (whether Egyptian or Classical)? As I said before, I am relatively fluent in Egyptian Arabic, but there are still some significant gaps in my vocabulary which I would like to fill. Any advice? Would you guys recommend a frequency dictionary of some sort?
On Egyptian colloquial, A comprehensive study of Egyptian Arabic v. 4 Lexicon. Abdel-Massih, Ernest T.
http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015087418581;view=1up;seq=1

For Standard Arabic:A frequency dictionary of Arabic: core vocabulary for learners by Tim Buckwalter, Dilworth B. Parkinson
http://www.amazon.com/Frequency-Dictionary-Arabic-Vocabulary-Dictionaries/dp/0415444349

You can go through and check your gaps, grouping words by root as you go.
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« Reply #38 on: May 18, 2013, 09:40:31 AM »

Thanks.
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« Reply #39 on: July 01, 2013, 05:42:16 AM »

Does anyone know of a website where I can listen to the Quran being read, as opposed to being recited/chanted? I ask because I need help with pronunciation.

Also, I have already began to listen to Gospel recitations in Arabic. I think my ability to read fluidly (mentally, anyway) is improving rapidly. It's just reading out loud (especially without accent marks) is what really troubles me.
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