How to Learn a New Language, Step 1 Overcome the Intimidation

24 Sep

Now in my 6th week of learning Arabic (1 hour classes, 4 days a week), we are just finishing alphabet! In fact, our first textbook is entirely devoted to learning our  Alif, Baa, Taa’s. Arabic posses many difficulties, but as far as I’ve seen I think the majority of them are rooted in being able to really, I mean really get the alphabet down. Wrapping up the alphabet in our 6th week of classes comes to:

24 total class hours of study

  double that of individual study

Coming to about 70-72 hours of study just to grasp the basics of the Arabic alphabet and grammar. 

“My Arabic Alphabet Song! Alaf Baa Taa Kids الأبجدية العربية”

My Language History

It might be beneficial for me to share my personal history with learning languages, and why as a senior in college I am watching Arabic children’s cartoons nearly everyday of the week. High school Spanish was the first language I studied, I did 2 years (or 1 year of college level) and I did very well. However like most high-school Spanish students, I can’t remember much from “Como se llama?” So that was it, the very extent of me studying languages for a solid 4 1/2 years. My sophomore year in college I studied abroad in Chiang Mai Thailand. It was through my study abroad program that I was required to take a 6 credit semester of intensive Thai ภาษาไทย, about 9 hours a week of language. And if 9 hours wasn’t enough, my roommate who spoke no English and all of my Thai friends were determined to communicate with me and that meant me learning their language…คุณเป็นอย่างไร!

My study abroad experience was life changing, as most study abroad students say and for me this was especially in the political and language worlds. Thailand is a monarchy, where everything from facebook and blogs are censored and speaking against the royal family can be punished by death, LEGALLY. This experience abroad really sparked my interest in politics and especially US politics, which before hadn’t been very captivating to me.

I truly believe the greatest thing about learning Thai, was that it showed me how appreciated it is by other cultures that you at least TRY and not be a self-centered American and that learning another language is more intimidating than anything. Once I got beyond the fact that yes, I can pronounce a tonal language properly and was even complimented on my accent once… I believed in myself as a speaker of a language other then my own. For these reasons I am now learning Arabic, and hoping to continue with it post-University graduation.

There are multiple ways a language is learned and taught.

I studied Thai the way we all learn our first language as a child. Our Ajan (Professor) first taught us conversational phrases and vocabulary. Once we had a decent foundationin speaking, we began to learn how to read and write the thai alphabet.

In Arabic class we are learning the language backwards, we are starting first with the alphabet with very few conversational phrases and vocabulary words.

I find this very interesting and I have been trying to analyze which is an easier way to learn a language: Does it depend on context? In the spoken country vs a class room in the Midwest. Does it depend on the language that is being learned?

This is an intersting video about the myths of Arabic and an introduction to the Semitic root-and-pattern system. Really interesting!!!!

“Myths and Facts about the Arabic language”

Quick facts from the video:

+325 Million Native Speakers and 1 Billion Muslims

+There is Classical Arabic used in the Koran & MSA or Modern Standard Arabic, although there are dozens of dialects spoken in the Arab world

+MSA is what is used in Media across the Arab world, although the Egyptian dialect is most commonly used for entertainment like movies and soap opera

+Alphabet has 28 letters and is written in cursive form right to left. Of these 28 letters there are only 5 shapes

+Vocabulary is based mostly off a Semitic root-and-pattern system (like Hebrew). S-L-M is the root letters for Peace, like Islam and Muslim.

+Only 2 tenses: Past and Non-Past

Here are the textbooks we are using in class

Our professor also recommended us to get a journal to keep all our vocab in. Your journal can be arranged alphabetically or thematically, I chose by theme because I will be getting an Arabic dictionary and it makes more sense to me for various situations.

And I finally figured out how to attach a link! From now on just click on a photo to get to the link and it will show up in a separate page! +)

Sources

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xYy3D6zYgY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flcVUaIbNEU

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