Ideas for Language Learning in a Lockdown


root: غ-ل-ق / verbal noun of form IV / definition: lockdown, closing

Classes cancelled, study abroad plans put on hold, and your sanity left bouncing between the same four walls for weeks on end… Most of us, in this coronavirus era, are in some form of lockdown or another. Since everyone is naturally coping differently in these unprecedented times, I’ve put together lots of language-learning ideas that you can implement in this lockdown depending on how you’re feeling right now!

Missing your social life?

Thankfully, our social lives are not completely cut off despite the lockdown—and we can definitely thank technology for that. There’s many ways we can stay social and learn a language at the same time:

  • Online vocabulary quizzes with friends/classmates—such as on Quizlet Live or Kahoot, or even through video chat with one person asking the questions.
  • Group chats—create a group chat where everyone has to message solely in Arabic (you can even have some sort of penalty for speaking in another language—nothing too harsh guys, we need to maintain friendships). If this is too challenging, you can simply dedicate one day a week to communicating in Arabic.

(My friend an I communicate solely in Arabic on Fridays but, by complete coincidence of course, that just happens to be the day when our phones are most silent 👀…)

  • Video chats or phone calls—this is the closest you’re going to get to a group study session from the comfort of your own sofas. So you can either speak in Arabic about various topics, revise grammar and vocabulary together, or… basically anything else language-related! Be creative!

Need to take your mind off the news?

Has the news been on TV more than usual or are we just focusing on it more? I don’t know. Anyway, if you can’t stand the thought of hearing the dreaded C-word (“coronavirus”, I must clarify) once more on BBC or Al Jazeera, why not take your mind back to the simple days of childhood cartoons?

Type into YouTube anything that takes your fancy… سبونج بوب anyone? (You can either type the name of the show in Arabic if you know it, or type it in English followed by “عربي”.)

Want to stay in the loop?

If the thought of missing the latest news update shakes you to the core (or, you know, you just want to know), then times like this are the perfect for tuning into the news in Arabic. That’s because—with one major news topic on repeat—you’ll be hearing a somewhat predictable set of vocabulary and discourses so it’ll be easier to follow along.

For listening practice, you can listen to الجزيرة or other news channels live on YouTube. If you prefer reading, you can download some Arabic news apps or head to the website I mention in this post where you can see both the Arabic and English versions of the same article.

If you’re finding it a bit difficult to understand Arabic articles, you might want to have a read of my post Arabic Headline Analysis #2 where I go through a coronavirus-related headline word-by-word to explain the vocabulary and grammar.

Also, check out my vocabulary set on Quizlet where I’ve gathered lots of important pandemic-related terms that you’ll be hearing a lot: who knows what التباعد الاجتماعي means? What about كمامات and إجراءات احترازية?

Need to process your thoughts?

The combination of an emptier schedule and a head full of thoughts can be a lot to handle.

Have you thought about writing daily diary entries (in Arabic, of course)? Not only might it help you to process your thoughts, but it’ll also give you a sense of routine and teach you a lot more vocabulary!

Overwhelmed with all of the new information?

With so many changes and updates, it might be time to revisit the old. Use your newly-found free time to focus solely on revising what you’ve already learnt: write up all of your notes neatly; organise your notes in display folders so you can easily revise from them; make vocabulary quizzes or flashcards; write up all of the grammar rules you’ve come across in one notebook, etc.

Craving a change?

If the same old, same old is tiring you out, switch things up a bit. Now would be a brilliant time to learn an Arabic dialect you haven’t learnt before! It’s up to you how you go about this, whether you want to start with a book, online learning resources, or perhaps a مسلسل (TV series)…

If learning a dialect right now is too much of a change, you can always learn Arabic in a context that you love but haven’t studied before. Perhaps search for archaeology-related articles to read and translate, or watch an Arabic documentary about space, travel, or nature.

Can’t concentrate on learning right now?

If studying is the last thing on your mind at the moment but you still don’t want a complete break from Arabic, listening to podcasts in the background while you’re working on other things (anything from housework to painting) is excellent for passive learning. Check out my post here to see my favourite Arabic podcast!

So if you’re stuck in lockdown, look at this time as a brilliant opportunity to change up your studying routine, at least!

(By the way, where did April go?)

Let us know: where are you from and how are you dealing with language learning during this time? If you have any more tips and ideas, please do leave them in the comments below!

Stay safe!

في أمان الله

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One thought on “Ideas for Language Learning in a Lockdown

  1. speaking of being overwhelmed with new information, I deleted my social media after watching The Social Dilemma and learning about what it does to brain

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