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Learning Arabic.

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I was supposed to be learning Russian this semester, but when the class didn’t have enough people register, I switched into Arabic instead. Classes began last week, and learning Arabic is, without a doubt, the hardest language I’ve ever tried to learn.

At least, it is right now.

The first two classes were spent learning the alphabet and a few phrases (such as “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “where are you from,” “Are you a student?” etc). My pronunciation is terrible! Our teacher is a native speaker of Arabic. He taught us the sounds each character makes by writing the letters on a white board. At the end of the second night he pulled out some flashcards to quiz us. I thought I was doing okay with learning the sounds, until he started using the flashcards- instead of having the handwritten form of the characters, the flashcards had the calligraphic form instead, and it completely through me off!

Luckily, I didn’t have a chance to be quizzed, so I have a little time to review before Tuesday!

Once I’ve mastered the alphabet, I think learning Arabic might not be too much more difficult than learning another language- we’ll see.

I’m taking the course at Seattle Language Academy, a language school in Fremont. This is the kind of place I might like to teach one day. The first floor of the building is a cafe, Café Babel. Many of the people who work there are English students who came from various countries to learn English here. The second two floors of the building have all of the classrooms. The average class size seems to be about ten students.

My Arabic class has an interesting mix of students. We range in age from a high school senior all the way to people in there 40’s and 50’s. Everyone is friendly, and the atmosphere is very relaxed. (I think this comes from our continuous laughter at how ridiculous we sound trying to pronounce some of the characters)!

The purpose of taking Arabic is to complete the Language Learning Practicum requirement for my degree. By studying an unfamiliar language, we are supposed to “take notes” on what was easy or hard for us as students, and what our teacher did that made learning harder or easier. I think I will definitely get a good perspective on these things through this Arabic course!

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