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MarHaba from the newest Arabic Blogger Posted by on Nov 21, 2018 in Arabic Language, Language, Language Immersion

مرحباً!  My name is Yasmine and I will be posting about Arabic language and culture here on the Arabic Language Blog! I thought I’d share with you my background خلفيتي in learning Arabic and experiencing the Arab culture.

Moving to Jordan!

I was born in the United Sates to an American mother and Jordanian father. My parents had a plan to eventually move to Jordan for good. English was my first language, and my parents knew that if I were ever to acquire Arabic, the sooner the better. So, at the age of 10, (knowing only words like شكراً) I was sent to Amman, Jordan to live with my Arabic-speaking grandmother and begin fourth grade in a mainstream Jordanian school where of course, everything was taught in Arabic! At the beginning, it was very tough to look at the chalk board in class and see only scribbles. I went from being an “A” student back in the US to feeling like a total alien at school and where basic subjects such as science and math were suddenly incomprehensible.

Sink or swim!

I began taking intensive Arabic classes دروس عربية مكثفة beginning from the alphabet and so forth and (very slowly) began understanding my teachers and peers. At home grandma (Taita تيتا) spoke only in Arabic to me and after school I played outside with other children in the neighborhood. Playing internationally known games such as hide and go seek in Arabic helped me pick up more and more of the language. I was fully immersed in the Arab culture and surrounded by native speakers.

Beginner's Arabic notebook

image by Sylvain mazas from Flickr.com is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Later…

I remained in Jordan living with my تيتا for three years. Eventually, my family then followed me to Jordan and we moved into a new house. My younger sisters then became immersed in the Arabic language and Jordanian culture as well. I continued living in Jordan until I graduated from university.

In the end…

I decided to come back to the US to earn my master’s degree and teach Arabic as foreign language. The challenges التحديات I faced learning Arabic has allowed me to understand the difficulties my students go through, which has helped shape my teaching methods أساليب التدريس. When I look back at my experience trying desperately to communicate in Arabic to make friends and survive at school, it was difficult, but I learned so much! I can now comfortably consider myself a fluent speaker of Arabic متقن اللغة العربية and a true Jordanian.

Word of advice: If you ever get the opportunity to travel to an Arabic speaking country to learn or improve your Arabic, go out and mingle with Arabic speakers and if they speak English to you, ask them politely to speak only Arabic to you.

“ممكن أن تتكلم معي باللغة العربية؟”

Stay tuned for more posts! Looking forward to your comments, suggestions and questions!

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About the Author:yasmine

MarHaba! I am half Jordanian of Circassian descent and half American. I have a Master's in Second Language Teaching and I teach Arabic as a foreign language here in the US, both MSA and Levantine Arabic. I hope to help you become more familiar and interested in the Arabic language and culture.


Comments:

  1. Larhubarbe Denis:

    The article is very interesting. The only true way to learn arabic is to think arabic. 🙂 I totally agree with you that in order to be good in arabic we must talk only in this language. Great post. Thank you for sharing it.

    • yasmine:

      @Larhubarbe Denis !شكراً دنيس
      So many Arabic speakers have such strong English that when they meet an English speaker, they have no problem at all conversing in English. However, if someone is trying to learn Arabic, they’ll need that person to speak Arabic with them as much as possible and it doesn’t hurt to keep reminding them when they forget and switch back to English. 🙂

  2. Ruhoof Nozeer:

    Thanks for sharing your views about Arabic.
    For learning and speaking Arabic, which country you suggest to go to master the Arabic language?
    Thanks
    Abdur Ruhoof

    • yasmine:

      @Ruhoof Nozeer Ahlan wa sahlan Abdur Ruoof! 🙂

      I’m sure your are aware of the differences between MSA and dialect, therefore, if you wish to only focus on MSA, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, even Morocco are great places to learn MSA. If you wish to learn a dialect, then (Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon) for Levantine “Shami” dialect and Egypt for Egyptian dialect. Of course, even if you decide to focus on MSA, regardless of where you go, you will pick up some dialect as well so it also depends on which dialect you prefer. I hope this answers your question. 🙂
      !شكراً

  3. Bill Goff:

    Dear Jasmine,
    What a wonderful story! Your personal experience makes you uniquely qualified to help English speakers learn Arabic. I had a semester of Fusah Arabic at a local community college and now I am learning Palestinian Arabic using the Pimsleur audio program and a young woman tutor who lives in Amman. Last summer I spent two weeks in Akko learning Palestinian Arabic in a class run by Mara Yocub who is well known from her many YouTube lessons as learnarabicwithmaha. I hope that in your future posts on this site you will identify whether you are using Fusah or the Shami/Palestinian dialect. I look forward to your assistance in learning Arabic.

    • yasmine:

      @Bill Goff !شكراً بيل
      Yes, I think Maha is great! She makes learning Arabic fun! I will definitely be posting about Shami as well as MSA. 🙂

  4. Robert (Bob) Barker:

    Hello and welcome,

    I am an octagenarian Englishman trying to teach myself Arabic – my first non-European language.
    I wish that I had been told at the outset about the Arabic (Semitic) root system of vocabulary. It has taken a long time for me to appreciate how valuable an understanding it is.
    I look forward to your posts.
    Bob

    • yasmine:

      @Robert (Bob) Barker !شكراً روبرت
      Yes, I agree. What makes Arabic difficult, is that it is very different from the Romance languages. But many learners come to see after a while that Arabic is actually pretty logical. 🙂

  5. Najat .:

    بالتوفيق انشالله مرحبا ياسمين اتفق معك تعلم اللغه تحتاج الى ممارسة الكلام

  6. Ann:

    I am traveling to Jordan next year, after 10 years since I last were in an Arabic country (Morocco) and one year since starting Arabic with a tutor. IF you can post some Jordanian dialect lessons or point us to some resources… thanks

    • yasmine:

      @Ann !شكراً آن
      I sure will! Thank you for the suggestion!

  7. Tajuddin:

    Marhabban. After a prolonged silence from Ibn ul Yemen I am happy to receive this blog from transparent language. As you point out the best way to learn Arabic is to immerse oneself in the culture: talk, read, write and think arabic. During the break, I turned to VOA English- Arabic channel, where I found news articles in english with translations into Arabic. I also started using the free “google translate” app where you simply type the word, sentence or passage and you get a complete translation in Arabic. I realize that my vocab is limited and the vowels (diacritical marks) are necessary.
    Anyway welcome and thank you for your intro. And greetings and best wishes of success to Ibn ul Yemen who inspired me to persist.
    Tajuddin

    • yasmine:

      @Tajuddin !شكراً تاج الدين
      I’m glad you were able to find more ways to practice Arabic during your break.

  8. Sawsan FETOUH:

    Welcome and thank you for sharing your experience and your background. It is very inspiring. I teach Arabic in Sydney to non-native speakers of Arabic language, and I am sure I can benefit from your experience and your future posts. Good luck and best wishes.

    Sawsan


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