Why It’s Important to Write Your Own Translation

When you reach the point of reading (and perhaps voweling) Arabic texts as a beginner, it’s important to write your own translation of the text you’re reading. Why?

When you read without writing a translation, you’ll often come across grammar structures, colloquialisms, prepositions, and other language quirks that may “kinda” make sense in your head, but you didn’t fully grasp the sentence. So you gloss over it and continue reading.

When you actually write out a translation, ideally in paper with the matn (text) also in paper in front of you, you’ll take a much deeper dive into the text. You’ll be challenged and the leisurely style of reading without writing a translation now becomes a learning experience. You’ll find yourself looking up words far more often and contemplating the various possibilities to each Arabic sentence, like a puzzle with multiple solutions.

The result? You actually start to learn. Your vocabulary and understanding will deepen. You’ll find yourself asking questions more, and of a higher quality. The thing is, writing a translation can be the difference between growing in your Arabic and getting nowhere. It’s imperative.

This is also why getting hard copies of the text you’re studying is so helpful. One study showed that paper reading was greater than screen reading for comprehending abstract concepts, though digital readers scored higher in concrete concepts.

Print readers got 66 percent of the abstract questions correct on average, while the digital readers only answered 48 percent of them accurately. For concrete questions, digital readers got 73 percent correct while print readers got 58 percent correct.

I recommend paper, generally. Though you can still learn digitally. Paper is easier on the eyes for me, and I feel like I think deeper and slow down with paper.

Utilizing print services at your local university or a commercial print service, like OfficeDepot’s print services, are helpful. A spiral binder can give it a book feel and keep it together. Or you can use a binder to keep your texts together. Whatever helps you stay organized!

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