beginning

Learn the numbers 1 through 10 with children’s videos

children's number board
Would you like to learn the numbers from 1 through 10 in Arabic? In this post I will introduce the numbers and numerals for that, and then refer you to two children’s videos to practice. Ready?

The Arabic numerals and words

Here are the numbers from 1 to 10 in Arabic, with the numerals written above. These numerals are used everywhere in the Arab world except North Africa (e.g., Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria), where they use the same numerals as in English.

٥ ٤ ٣ ٢ ١
خَمْسَة أَرْبَعَة ثَلاثَة اِثْنان واحِد
khamsa ’arbaʕa thalaatha ’ithnaan waaḥid
‘five’ ‘four’ ‘three’ ‘two’ ‘one’
١٠ ٩ ٨ ٧ ٦
عَشَرَة تِسْعَة ثَمانِيَة سَبْعَة سِتَّة
ʕashara tisʕa thamaaniya sabʕa sitta
‘ten’ ‘nine’ ‘eight’ ‘seven’ ‘six’

Some of these numbers have more than one form. You can read about this and other interesting details in my book Bite-Size Arabic.

Two children’s counting videos

To practice the pronunciation, let’s use some children’s videos. There are tons of these out there, but most aren’t really appropriate for the beginning learner. Some are so slow as to put you to sleep, and some of them have grammatical errors in the Arabic. Some are in a spoken dialect rather than in Standard Arabic, and yet others have been produced by non-native speakers with imperfect pronunciation. In the most decidedly dreadful video I found, the maker had fed a poor transliteration of the numbers into a computer voice generator for English with an English accent!

But don’t worry, I have spent a couple of hours combing through candidates and have found two that are both bearable and linguistically correct.

Angela the cat counts balloons with you

In case you somehow missed the memo, the most effective way to learn how to count in a foreign language is by having a cat teach you to count balloons as they rise from a meadow. Therefore I give you this video of Angela the cat counting balloons. (Unfortunately, the video can’t be directly embedded into this page.)

Super Jamil counts lots of things

Here is another video that is much longer, letting you hear the words pronounced
many different times. The numbers are sometimes presented in context, with questions about, for example, how many legs a spider has and how many noses a person has, but you will find the video useful even if you can’t understand the other words.

One phrase that Super Jamil will often say after counting with you is this one:

أَحْسَنْتَ!
’aḥsanta
‘(You’ve done a) good job.’

If you know any Swahili, you will recognise this phrase in the word asante, which in that language means ‘thank you’.

’aḥsanta is the form you would say to a male. To a female you would say:

أَحْسَنْتِ!
’aḥsanti
‘(You’ve done a) good job.’

I wish you success in mastering your first Arabic numbers!



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