Learn to Read Arabic from Scratch: Lesson One
الدرس الأول
The phonological system of Modern Standard Arabic is made up of 29 consonants and 6 vowels. 15 of the consonants are very much like English sounds and present no difficulty. These are:

The first lesson includes the first four consonants ن - ب - و - د  and the first pair of vowels, the long vowel  ا  and the short one َ.
There are no exact correspondences between English and Arabic vowels; they may differ in quality, and they may behave differently under certain circumstances. Accordingly, any comparisons between English and Arabic vowels are at best rough approximations and intended only as general guides to pronunciation. Your best guide to proper pronunciation is your teacher whom you should listen to as carefully as possible and imitate as faifully as possible.

Arabic aa  ا is a long vowel sustained in pronunciation as a rule twice as a short vowel. In quality it is pronounced roughly like a in English ‘had’ or ‘tab’. Short a  َ  is not only shorter in duration but also it differs in quality from aa; it is less like a of ‘had’ but ranges from more between the e of ‘bet’ and the u of ‘but’. Listen to the following contrastive pairs and try to imitate.
 
 

 
 
The letter   د    daal is a non-connector written with an angler stroke; it rests on the line.
The letter    و   waw is a non-connector written with in one stroke; the circle is above the line, while the tail is below the line. Now you try to read the following:
Short a is written as a short stroke by means of the diacritic sign  َ     . It is Arabic name is     فتحة        fatHa; it is written over consonant letters as, for example:
If the Arabic letter has a long vowel followed by a consonant, that vowel is stressed, i.e. pronounced louder than other vowels. Otherwise, the first vowel of the word is stressed. Try to read the following. You can  Listen and repeat  to see the difference.
 

 
There is a special symbol  ْ     written over a letter to indicate the absence of any vowel other after that consonant, as
 
 A short vowel  followed by a two consonants receives the stress; read and try to pause a little when you see the sukuun sign as if you make the word two segments.
If a word contains both a long vowel followed by a consonant and a short vowel followed by two consonants, the one nearest the end of the word is stressed. Try to read the following:
 
Now you can read the following. The recording goes in rows from right to left
 

 
 
The letter     ب    baa’ is different from the preceding three letters. It is connective which means it is connected to a following letter. Therefore, it appears in four shapes.
By now you should be able to read the following words in Arabic:
 

 
 
The letter    ن     noon is similar to N in English. It is a connective letter, therefore, it has four shapes. The initial and the medial positions or shapes are identical to those of     ب     except that they have a dot above rather than below the letter. All four shapes are written on the line. Note that the shape of ن in final position is joind at the top rather than at the base, while   ب   in the final position is joined at the base.
Summary of stress rules
To do the relevant quiz and test your learning progress, click here
End of Lesson One
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