Visual Education Arabic Vocabulary Cards
March 10, 2013
Series Visual Education Flash Cards
Publisher Visual Education
Skill Level Intermediate
This product from Visual Education includes 1,000 vocabulary cards, each of which contains an Arabic word, and sometimes additional related words. I used them back in 2009 when I was studying Arabic, and was mystified by some of the choices made in their production.
First, as is the case with most printed Arabic materials, they omit the short vowels. I can appreciate the desire to show Arabic as you will see it in print, but shouldn’t exceptions be made for someone who is at a beginning vocabulary stage? It seems to me that it would be much more helpful to the basic learner to have all vocalization indicated.
Second, as Visual Education tells you in the accompanying materials, “Use of these cards presupposes a working knowledge of Arabic script.” Hang on a second here. Would it be so terrible to include the romanization for the neophytes among us? Why not do that? You could even put it upside down if you didn’t want to get in the way of people trying to learn to read the Arabic without assistance.
Finally, the flashcards are weirdly small. Kind of easy to drop and lose, and the font is tiny, especially for the Arabic. It hurt my eyes. The thing with an unfamiliar script is, you really need it bigger than you need your own script. Here it was the opposite: big, clear English letters and teeny tiny Arabic script surrounded by all kinds of white space that could have been devoted to a bigger font.
I had mastered only a small clump of the Visual Education vocabulary cards by the end of my two-month Arabic study period. They were just too much for a beginner like me.
If you are more advanced than I was, you will presumably be able to get a lot more out of them than I could. You can buy the cards directly from Visual Education (the publisher) or from sites such as Amazon.com. I bought mine at Dahesh Heritage Bookstore in New York.