Learning Arabic

So, since I’m moving to Egypt I thought learning Arabic would be a great idea.  My sister was even generous enough to get me Rosetta Stone for Arabic!  I’ve been through about 4-5 hours of it so far.  Not enough just yet, but once the summer class I’m teaching is done I’ll have more time to do more Arabic.  For now though–IT’S SO HARD!!

First of all, I’m totally illiterate in Arabic.  I don’t know the alphabet, I don’t know any letters, and I surely don’t know the signs they add to letters to change the ways that they’re pronounced.  Rosetta stone asks me not only to pronounce syllables I’m pretty sure I can’t pronounce with my American-English language base, but it also asks me to READ it and pick the letters out of a line up.  Impossible.  I have almost stopped trying.

Secondly, forms that nouns, adjectives, pronouns and more depend upon number, gender, size and any combination of factors.  I like Rosetta Stone, it’s awesome, but it doesn’t tell you rules.  I haven’t taken so many notes on language construction since high school Spanish–one difference is that no one’s telling me the rules, I’m guessing them.  I was able to get an Arabic grammar book from a professor of mine (totally generous and helpful!!) but it’s still rough!

Third, not only can I not read the letters to begin with and the grammar construction is totally new to me, this is the very first time in my life I have tried to learn a language NOT in the Romantic family.  I can read, comfortably speak and comprehend Spanish with very little problem.  I have a reading knowledge of French, and I can also figure out some Latin, Italian, Portuguese (you get the idea).  Arabic, then, is totally out of my zone.  Other than one semester of hieroglyphics, I haven’t had to learn a new writing system ever, and now I’m expected to speak it.

I don’t have to TEACH in Arabic, thank God.  All instruction will be done in English.  But, I want to TRY to talk to people, at least let the native Egyptians and Arabic speakers that I am trying.  There have been a couple cognates to Spanish: bantaloonen (pants), cameesun (shirt).  One cognate to English: tilifone (telephone).  Other than that, I see myself breaking into some “Como se dice…” or “Cuanto cuesta?”

A totally new place, a totally new language.  I’m a little nervous, but I hope that the lessons will help.  I’ll keep you posted!!

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4 Responses to Learning Arabic

  1. Amanda says:

    Don’t worry Sheps. Everyone says it’s much easier to pick up a new language when you’re in country and surrounded by it on a daily basis. But…GO YOU!!! for making the effort to squeeze this in to your already packed schedule. And you can always try to teach me some key phrases as I will surely need them…I’m already super lousey at Russian, just ask Slantz!! LOL

    • Kate Sheppard says:

      Thanks, lady! I’ll figure out which phrases would be most useful and teach them to you when you get there!! 🙂

  2. Christine says:

    Dude. Your sister sounds awesome. 🙂

  3. Christine says:

    PS…DON’T GIVE UP!! Scribble Scribble Write Write Answer Answer!!! 🙂

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