Saturday, July 30, 2011

Still Learning Arabic...

Sort of. Unexpected life events this week have probably ended my summer studies of Arabic, but I did make some progress. Working with a friend on our own, we were able to learn the Arabic alphabet, though reading is still a bit of a challenge because the letters change shape somewhat when they are in different positions in a word (initial, medial, terminal, independent). But I feel like I at least cracked the code and can peek in a bit on the Arabic world, even if with very limited understanding.

What excited me even more than learning the Arabic alphabet was learning to speak some Arabic. I had bought Pimsleur's Quick & Simple Eastern Arabic, which consists of 4 CDs, with 8 30-minute lessons. Pimsleur then sent me the complete Arabic 1 course, which consists of 16 CDs, or 32 30-minute lessons (including the 8 I already had). They wanted me to try out the full course and then pay for it if I liked it--but I have not had any time to move beyond the initial 8 lessons and will be returning the full course, though I would really like to do it if I had time.

I listened to the Quick & Simple CDs during my trip to and from Montreal a few weeks ago. They are only 30-minute lessons, but sometimes you have to listen to a lesson a couple of times. (And I also took breaks and listened to other things during the trip.) Though I couldn't listen to the Arabic lessons the whole time, I enjoyed them a great deal and made fast progress. You don't learn reading and writing, but you start speaking right away. It is not total immersion, but I think, apart from a total immersion context, this is the best communicative approach I have ever used. I have not listened to the CDs since my trip, but I can still remember all the vocabulary and conversations that I learned. And I did not memorize them--I mean that I can still use them all in context. If I ever have time, I would definitely like to continue using Pimsleur for Arabic and can recommend it for any language.

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