The Best Way to Learn Arabic is to Fall in Love with It
“Falling in love is like learning a whole new language and the culture that goes along with it.”
― Isabella Poretsis
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, Robert, the other day about languages (he and I are both language teachers). He has lived in Jordan for about two years longer than I have and speaks Arabic fluently, so inevitably I questioned him on his secret to learning the language so well.
“Well, as you know, I originally came to Jordan because I was in love with an Arab girl.Along the way, I fell in love with Arabic, too. The girl left me, but the Arabic stayed.”
“In love with Arabic? Ridiculous!”, you might be thinking to yourself. “How can anyone be in love with a language?”
Okay, you might have a good point, but let me explain.
If you ever been in love with somebody, you know that it come with certain responsibilities including time, devotion, patience, and oftentimes, lots of work to make the relationship run smoothly. Along with that, you also learn to accept the other person for who they are, faults and all, and share both good times and bad times together.
Of course love is not always sunshine and roses. You may disagree. You may argue. You may make mistakes. You may break up and you may be together forever. Indeed, love is not always an easy thing, but for many it is well worth all of the things mentioned above and more.
As you can see, falling in love with Arabic can be much like falling in love with a person. It takes time, devotion, patience, and lots of work to make the relationship work.
Sometimes you’ll hit a rough patch and feel like giving up, but more often than not, you’ll move past your mistakes and you and Arabic will live happily ever after.
However, every happily ever after story has a beginning of how the two protagonists met and what led them to be together forever. Mine is not much different from others, so I will begin by telling you about my own love story with the Arabic language.
By a series of, let’s call them happenstances, I came to live in Amman, Jordan in October of 2005. I did not expect to stay long, so I bought one of those books called something like Arabic for Idiots or Learn to Speak Arabic in a Week, just to learn Arabic language skills enough to get around. That worked for awhile. I got a job as a language instructor and after using the books to learn basic Arabic words, I could get back and forth to work in a taxi, buy food from the grocery store, and find a place to live. I guess you could say at this point I was merely flirting with Arabic rather than looking for a full time commitment with the language.
Besides, Arabic was playing hard to get because at that time there was no affordable way to learn Arabic online nor were there smartphones that were technologically advanced enough to download Arabic language learning apps. So, Arabic was nice and everything and would probably be nothing more than an acquaintance – a mutual friend that I had knowledge of, but still a friend that everybody knew better than me.
So about a year went by and the happenstances that brought me to Jordan started slowly diminishing. First, I had to find a new job that paid more and a new place to live closer to that job so I could save more. At the new job, I was the only one who was not from one of the surrounding Arab speaking countries. I felt awkward and left out and if I wanted to stay at this position, I needed someone to reintroduce me to Arabic.
One of my colleagues offered to “chaperone” Arabic and me and help me get to know the language a little better. After a few sessions, I noticed something strange happening to me. Arabic wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined after our first encounter and I found myself wanting to know more about Arabic. I wanted to learn to read Arabic. I wanted to learn about Arabic pronunciation. I wanted to write Arabic letters in English.
What was happening to me? Arabic was on my mind all the time and all I knew at that moment was how I looked forward to meeting our chaperone and how I wanted Arabic in my life forever. My gosh! I was falling in love with Arabic!
Eventually, our chaperone left Arabic and I alone and we were on our own. We have been ever since and our relationship is constantly growing. It’s not always easy. I make mistakes and sometimes those that know Arabic more than me laugh at me when I speak and I feel like giving up. However, Arabic is always there, ready to help me learn from my mistakes, always patient, and somehow teaching me more. Arabic is even introducing me to relative Arabic dialects by helping me to learn Egyptian Arabic and Levantine Arabic, so I feel like part of the Arabic family.
Sure, like any relationship, it takes hard work and has its ups and downs, but in the end, I am sure we will find our happily ever after together.
To sum up what I have learned about Arabic, I have to say that the relationship is much the same as being in romantic relationship. Arabic requires time, energy, compromise, and sacrifice in order to survive in the long run, just as any human relationship with a person will.
If you want to get better acquainted with the Arabic language, then why not head over to kaleela.com to learn more not only about Arabic but Arab culture as well? While you’re there, you can download the Kaleela Arabic language learning app to your Android or IOS device. Think of it as Tinder for your language love life and introduce yourself to Arabic. Who knows? You might just fall in love with Arabic, too.