These past couple weeks I’m consciously realizing that I need to begin to immerse in the Arabic language. As I’ve had to choose classes for the Winter quarter, I’ve decided that this class (Arabic) is the most important one and the one I need to invest the most in. (Since I’m hoping these two years of Arabic will become a useful skill and that I’ll hopefully be able to USE and refine the Arabic I’m learning.) I decided it’s worth sucking it up and only taking two classes next quarter, in order to really focus on Arabic. I have to admit, given how little time I’ve been able to devote to Arabic 101, I’m doing pretty well in the class. But I feel like I’m doing well enough for the tests, I don’t feel like I’m really absorbing the language like I do with other languages. That very well may be because it’s taught differently than other languages. But after spending a few months on German, I can easily pepper my day with German all over the place. I can watch German movies and make out many of the words and phrases, and I could have simple conversations and make myself understood.
What we’re doing in Arabic 101 is a little harder to work into daily practice. I mean, of course it took 4 weeks just to cover the alphabet but it’s not a communicative approach. The book that all the teachers are forced to use is ridiculous. (I mean, it just IS, as many Arabic learners will tell you. Al-Kitaab is ridiculous but at least we have the adventures of Maha! It’s so entertaining that we discovered someone made a Twitter account for her. I doubt you’ll find it entertaining unless you’re familiar with Al-Kitaab, though. Maha is SO LONELY.)
In any case, I’m sure I’d feel like I could communicate more if I were able to spend more time practicing throughout the day. I’m hoping to start practicing with some native speakers and hoping that next quarter I will be able to spend a good hour or more each day writing things out and really USING the language that I know. I wish I’d started learning Arabic during my first year so that I could get three years under my belt instead of two! But again, hopefully I will be able to use the language going forward and will continue learning.
Spanish was my first “second language” so when I started learning Czech, I would often default to or slip up and use Spanish when I didn’t know (or forgot) words in Czech. Then when we lived in LA and I was trying to help a man with directions in Spanish, he eventually started to look like he just wanted me to shut the hell up so he could escape and figure it out on his own. I then realized I was speaking Spanish with a bunch of random Czech words thrown in.
When I started learning German… hm. Well, oddly, I don’t remember having any language mix-up issues with German for some reason. And I never got far enough into Japanese (I took a class a few years ago) or Russian (which I started learning when I was dating a Russian whose family liked to ply me with Russian vodka and teach me curse words almost two decades ago), I also didn’t get far enough into them to start mixing with other languages. (Also, the Japanese alphabet and Cyrillic alphabet were a piece of cake but Arabic took some time!)
At least a couple times a week I find myself reaching for words in either Spanish, German, or Czech. I’ve used Spanish to remember Arabic words. For example: The word for “money” in Arabic is “mal”. “Mal” in Spanish is “bad”. So I think “money is bad” to remember the word for “money” in Arabic. (Got all that?)
Then today! Today someone asked what the word (in Arabic) is for “sister” and I turned around and said, “Sestra!” Then I realized that’s Russian. I’m waiting until I start throwing some French or Portugues (which I know a fair bit of) Swedish (which I spent about a month learning on DuoLingo), Danish (another month of self learning), or Turkish (I learn a new word or phrase every few months). Yes. I am all mixed up.
But what I really wanted to say is this: Arabic is a scary language to most people. I get that. I put it off for over a decade. But you know what? If you have any interest in learning Arabic, then do it. Don’t be scared off by it. Sure, there’s a little more work to be done in the beginning but it is SO worth it. It helps that I’m in an awesome class – definitely find a good group to learn with (don’t do it on your own.) My teacher is awesome and a lot of fun and I really adore the group of students that I’ll be with for the rest of the the Arabic 100-level (101, 102, 103.) I cannot say this enough: if you’re a person who loves learning languages and finds them fairly easy to learn, then the challenge of Arabic is so much more rewarding. And let’s face it, I love the reactions from people when I say I’m learning Arabic. (They usually think you must be some kind of crazy rock star language person.)
So – الموسيقى العربية is “Arabic music”. In my quest to immerse myself into Arabic, I am searching for some fun Arabic music to listen to. None of it will be in MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) which… well, let’s pause for a moment and “LOL” at the idea of Arabic pop music in MSA… I’m going to ask my teacher for some music recommendations but in the meantime, I did some googling and found some stuff worth checking out. I’ve been collecting it all in this playlist but my favorite so far is the “Arabology” album from Yas: