| By Tabassum Mosleh |
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.
Educational researchers are putting more and more effort in finding out new and improved ways of teaching and learning. I was surprised to find out about one research that has received much media attention – a research on 100 key words.
“An ongoing study at the university of Warwick says 100 will do to read most written English, including books intended for adults.” (BBC)
Adding another fifty words to these hundred increased children’s understanding of the text by only 2%.
What this means is that most of our written English consists of the same words repeated over and over again. These high-frequency words are called instant sight words, which means that we can recognize in maximum one second. Try out these to see if it’s true: live, take, went, make.
How do we develop such rapid recognition ability for these words? Simply due to repetition. We encounter the word “make”, for instance, once every 3 pages of reading on average. So the more we read, the more we are bombarded by these sight words, and the more familiar they become, and that in turn results in increase in our reading efficiency.
Now let us see how Understand Quran Academy has taken advantage of a similar concept in designing its courses in learning Arabic.
The course “Understand the Quran 50% Words” takes 9 hours to complete. That sounds kind of absurd and impossible at first glance. But in fact, the claim is absolutely true. Here’s how:
The course will teach you a total of only 125 words, and these 125 words (or their variants) occur about 40,000 times in the Quran. But the course will not give you this 125-word-vocabulary and have done with it. It will teach you to plant these firmly into your head using educational techniques such as TPI (Total Physical Interaction). It will also teach how variants are made and used from these words, such as the different forms of the same verb. In short, if you do the course thoroughly and follow the teacher’s guidance and practice a lot, then you’ll at least get a sense of what the Quran is telling you each time you open it in sha Allah.
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind while doing the course:
- Be constantly aware of what you’re doing and why. Learning to understand the Quran is immensely rewarding. The Quran is the last and final Book, sent to all humanity. The purpose of the Prophet’s mission was to teach the Quran:
Just as We have sent among you a messenger from yourselves reciting to you Our verses and purifying you and teaching you the Book and wisdom and teaching you that which you did not know. [Quran, 2:151]
In fact, his mission started with the Quran . . .
Recite in the name of your Lord who created. [96:1]
. . . and reached its climax with the Quran:
This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. [5:3]
The Prophet’s (sa) mission was not just to convey the Quran but to teach it and show us how to implement it, not just to Arabs but to the entire humanity. And for the rest of us non-Arabs, we have to take an extra step at the beginning – and that is learning Quranic Arabic. This makes it more challenging and consequently more rewarding. So always reminding yourself the great importance and virtue of what we’re learning.
- Practice, practice and practice! Remember what we just learned about instant sight words in English. We probably won’t be reading as much Arabic as we read English, and so the only way we can turn these 125 Arabic words into instant sight words is by practicing what is taught in the lessons. This will reduce the time your brain takes to recognize these words when you come across them in the Quran, and thus improve your understanding of the text.
“When less effort can be put into decoding [interpreting] during reading, there is more short-term capacity for comprehension of text . . . When words are recommended automatically, this maximizes the capacity available for understanding.” (Pressley 2000)
Learn more about the course and how to register here.
Tabassum Mosleh is a freelance writer and a student of al-Salam Institute. She likes animals and natural beauty, reading novels and researching interesting topics. She shares her reflections at the blog sections of Understand Quran Academy, IIPH and Ibana. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org