Archive for the 'Arabic' Category

More on Arabic studies

Posted by sue on 31st January 2007

Tomorrow I’m already at the end of my first (short) term of Arabic study, though the next term starts right in on Monday of next week. The only way it’s obvious that it’s a new term is that I have to pay again! (The terms are four weeks long, though this time I jumped in the beginning of week two.)

It’s been good so far, a very different approach than I’ve had in previous classes, which built vocabulary relatively slowly and methodically while focusing on the teaching of grammar. In my class now, we do some work on grammar, but mainly it’s been a rapid fire exposure to new texts in class every single day, with loads of new vocabulary almost every day. It’s nuts just how many new words I’ve learned (or at least was introduced to) this term—it’s more than I can absorb.

However, I think there is a method to this madness that is appropriate to where I am with Arabic learning. When new words are flying at you at a rate too fast to memorize them all, you just do the best you can, and some will sink in. And if the next day you do the same thing, a few more will sink in, particularly if a few of yesterday’s words come up again in today’s reading. Just last night I was watching the news on an Egyptian cable news station, and heard a couple of words that I had just learned about 10 minutes earlier in an article I was reading, so I remember them. I’m hopeful that a few months in Cairo studying at Kalimat is the kick in the pants that I needed to actually get somewhere with this language.

Posted in Arabic, Egypt | 5 Comments »

Arabic Studies Resumed

Posted by sue on 17th January 2007

I found a language institute that looks very promising, and I was able to jump into classes right away. It’s called Kalimat Language and Cultural Center, in Mohandessin, a rather fashionable area of Cairo, pretty centrally located. The vibe of the class is much more dynamic and fast-paced than my classes at ALIF, and they use their own materials rather than the Al Kitaab textbook series that I could definitely use a break from, all for about half the price of ALIF classes. So far, so good!

We have an appointment tomorrow with a real estate agent to look at apartments for rent, and I am really anxious to get settled. I think we made a good decision in leaving Morocco and coming here, both for the Arabic learning environment and the fun of a big city like Cairo, where everything is open late and there’s lots to do, but it’s been strange and even a bit upsetting to move again so soon. But we’re figuring things out, finding our way around (the GPS has been very helpful!), finding where to get our laundry done and good places to eat, and finding things that didn’t seem to exist in Fez, like art supplies and books in English. And now it’s time again to study, study, study!

Posted in Arabic, Egypt | 3 Comments »

Arabic studies, update

Posted by sue on 22nd November 2006

I’m getting really frustrated with my classes lately. I have only one other student in my class and she’s well behind where I am in terms of vocabulary and grammar, and the teachers (one in particular) don’t seem interested in close analysis of texts or in helping us be able to translate them into English. In the textbook (Al-Kitaab Part Two), there is a central text in the middle of each chapter that the chapter rotates around in with its vocabulary list and grammar lessons, and my assumption is that when it’s time to read that text, we’re to read it many times with increasing attention to detail, analyzing sentence structure and making sure we understand how words are used and such. You know, understand thoroughly what we’re reading, and discuss it at length using the hard-won new vocabulary words (60 or so per chapter, though it’s more than that if you count all the different forms that basic words can change into in Arabic).

But no. Today was the day for which we were assigned to read the text and complete some exercises from the book which focus on certain aspects of the text. So you’d think we’d spend the whole time reading passages, analyzing grammar here and there, discussing the subject matter to reinforce our verbal command of the vocab and confirm our comprehension of the text. But instead we went through the book exercises in the most superficial way, skipping the ones that actually would push us to understand the text well, translating nothing. I tried to push us to look more closely at what the text said in a couple of parts which didn’t make sense to me, and the teacher actually seemed to get a little testy with me about it. So I gave up, and we spent the rest of the time slogging through some other exercise in which we had to practice putting proper case endings on parts of sentences with the sisters of “kana” (Arabic students will understand that)– something I learned from Jihad at UCLA ages ago, and which my classmate seemed not to understand much at all. So I’m bored and she’s lost and neither of us is learning much from this guy and he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

It’s not all bad–I have two teachers, and the other one is better, but unfortunately I have fewer class hours with him. I’m just trying to figure out what to do here– I can’t force the class to move along faster because my classmate will lag farther behind, but I feel like a lot of our class time is wasted time for me. There’s only about two weeks left, though, and then I’ll be free to go to Rabat or Cairo or somewhere.

Through all this, I’m starting to think more about a long-term goal of becoming an Arabic teacher, which I hadn’t considered much before. If I ever manage to learn this crazy language, I think I could be a decent teacher.

Posted in Arabic | 5 Comments »

Learnin’ me some Arabic

Posted by sue on 1st November 2006

I’ve had about a week of Arabic study now, and, for those who are curious, I’ll give a bit of a description about what it’s been like here at the Arabic Language Institute in Fes.

I’m in the Modern Standard Arabic 300 class, which starts at the beginning of Part Two of the Brustad, Al-Batal, and Al-Tonsi Al-Kitaab fii Ta’allum al-Arabiya, which my UCLA Extension zumalaa’ wa zamiilaat also know and love. The first couple of days of class, however, we worked through some other materials, some of which were a bit daunting. A couple of them were worksheets that reviewed certain grammar relationships, and that stuff I feel confident about, thanks to Jihad’s THOROUGH grammar instruction. But the others were texts related to reading Arabic newspapers, and because I just haven’t spent any real time trying to read newspapers in Arabic, I had little of the requisite vocabulary.

And, I was embarrassed in class the other day because I didn’t know how to say what time it is! I mean, it was in the book (Part 1, p. 156), but I just never practiced it. It makes me appreciate one way in which English is simple. 1:40 is said “One-forty.” In Arabic, it’s “the hour the second less a third.”

I do have some time in the next couple of days to get caught up on some of the little things that I’m not clear on from Part One because I already did most of chapter one of Part Two at UCLA. And maybe some time to check out some newspapers!

Posted in Arabic | 6 Comments »