A Chat With An Arabic Learner (2)

فَٱلۡيَوۡمَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مِنَ ٱلۡكُفَّارِ يَضۡحَكُونَ (٣٤) عَلَى ٱلۡأَرَآٮِٕكِ يَنظُرُونَ ﴿

But this Day (the Day of Resurrection) those who believe will laugh at the disbelievers On (high) thrones, looking (at all things). 

If you have any trials in your life and you put your total trust in Allah, eventually you will emerge victorious as a reward for your efforts and patience. After 30 years of learning Arabic and practicing it, the reward is fluency. I am so happy to share my husband’s Arabic journey with you.

Give us some background information about yourself.

I became a muslim when I was 23 years old after reading the translation of the whole Quran in 3 days. I didn’t know anything about Arabic other than the Quran being in Arabic.

How did you start learning Arabic?

I was had a an Algerian friend who offered to teach me the Arabic alphabet which didn’t go well as he didn’t know half of it! So, I joined the local mosque which ran Arabic classes for beginners and left 2 weeks later due to being the only male in the class. Then I married a native who encouraged me to study the language formally. So I joined another mosque where I had more formal structured lessons to learn the alphabet, basic writing and hadith in Arabic. At home, I started with a few nouns at a time, used them daily until I became fluent in them then slowly added common daily verbs and adjectives. I also used to repeatedly listen to Arabic programs on TV which helped my comprehension and vocabulary bank.

Why did you start learning Arabic?

I wanted to read the Quran in Arabic and also converse in Arabic.

How long have you been learning Arabic?

I have been learning for 30 years and still learning. My learning style is very informal. What improved my Arabic was forcing myself to use it around the house with the family and not being afraid of making mistakes.

What difficulties did you and do you face when learning Arabic?

Informal learning meant there was a lot of practical opportunities to correcting grammar mistakes. I had to improve my active listening skills to differentiate between similar sounding words. Also, getting the pronunciation of certain letters was difficult but improved with practice.

Are you still learning Arabic?

Yes, my current job forces me to speak, read and write on daily basis and I am learning all the time Arabic words in different dialects. And, because of the poor English language skills of my students I have to teach technical subjects in Arabic.

How fluent would you say you are?

I am fluent in conversational Arabic and in reading the Quran and understanding it. I am semi fluent in reading other Arabic texts and relatively weak in writing. I understand the middle eastern dialects and fusha which I didn’t find a great difference between the two.

Have you used transliteration in your Arabic learning journey? If so, what do you think of it?

Yes, for the first few weeks of becoming a Muslim and it was a complete and utter waste of time. It doesn’t give you the correct pronunciation and you end up spending more time re-learning the correct letters which you could have saved by learning it correctly in the first place.

What advice would you give to those embarking on their journey to learning Arabic?

Any language learnt has to be used so don’t be afraid to use it and make mistakes. You will learn much quicker this way than spending hours studying formal grammar rules that you will probably have picked up quicker by speaking it than through formal lessons. If you really want to learn a language, meet people and speak it. Languages are meant to be used.

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